and you thought Mitt had it bad....

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and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Miles1 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:40 am

...with the 47% thing....

When a Plutocratic Dinner Doomed a Presidential Campaign



Media debacles are a recurrent nightmare for presidential candidates. Yet few have ever confronted a more devastating publicity firestorm than the Republican candidate James G. Blaine did on a fateful day in October 1884.

Not even Mitt Romney -- who is now facing the blowback from some arrogant remarks that he made in private at a fundraiser with high-rolling supporters -- has had a day quite as damaging as the one “the Plumed Knight” (as Blaine was known in the press) suffered in the final days of his presidential campaign.

Blaine’s troubles started when he rejected the advice of the New York state Republican Party chairman and traveled by railroad to New York City to make a series of high-profile public appearances in the final critical week of his campaign.

Running neck-and-neck with Democrat Grover Cleveland, Blaine had to win the state. To help fill his campaign coffers, Blaine agreed to attend a sumptuous fundraising dinner, organized by 200 prominent Republican supporters, on Oct. 29. The venue was the ballroom at Delmonico’s, a swank restaurant in the financial district. Among the guests were several of the richest, best-known and most politically connected businessmen in the country, including the Navy contractor John Roach and the financier Jay Gould.

A Bad Day

Blaine’s day began badly when he took part in an impassioned rally hosted by several hundred Protestant clergymen -- all Republicans -- at which a Presbyterian minister denounced the Democrats as the party of “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion.” The slur soon went viral, outraging Irish Catholic voters who might otherwise have sat out the election.

The worst was yet to come. The Delmonico’s dinner played into the hands of journalists primed by a long and bruising campaign to accentuate Blaine’s financial ties with Wall Street. Most devastating of all, it furnished New York World illustrator Walt McDougall with the theme for a blistering cartoon that would run the next day on the front page of one of the city’s biggest newspapers.

McDougall’s cartoon -- titled “Royal Feast of Belshazzar Blaine and the Money Kings” -- portrayed Blaine as a supplicant at the beck and call of plutocrats who dined on “monopoly soup,” “patronage” and “lobby pudding” while a humble laborer and his family looked on, begging for crumbs.

“Mammon’s Homage” screamed the headline that accompanied the cartoon: “Millionaires and Monopolists Seal Their Alliance.” McDougall’s work was an instant sensation. Democratic activists enlarged it into posters that they plastered on walls all over the city and on placards that the party faithful held aloft at rallies.

The cartoon had clearly hit a nerve. Blaine’s refusal to make a full disclosure of past financial dealings troubled many voters, including some influential Republicans, while party insiders, including many businessmen, feared his full-throated endorsement of government policies they assumed would hasten economic consolidation. Opposition to monopoly was a potent rallying cry in 1884, and the New York World had been editorializing for weeks that a Blaine presidency would widen the gap between rich and poor.

Tipping the Balance

The election was one of the closest in U.S. history, and Cleveland won New York by a mere 1,200 votes. Many political observers, including the World’s editorial staff, credited McDougall’s cartoon with tipping the balance, making it one of the most effective visual appeals in the annals of electoral politics.

McDougall himself would later reminisce that Blaine had confided to him that the World might well have been right. “If Blaine had eaten a few more swell dinners,” lamented one bitter Republican strategist, “and had a few more ministers call on him, we should not have carried a northern state.”

Ironically, McDougall had unsuccessfully pitched the idea for a similar cartoon linking Blaine with Wall Street fat cats to the editors of the magazine Puck several months earlier. Following the Delmonico’s dinner, McDougall recycled some of the images from his failed project to draw “Royal Feast,” helping to explain the speed with which he readied it. (From start to finish, the project took a mere two hours, or so recalled a fellow World staffer who helped bring it to life.) This also explains why some of the business leaders McDougall featured -- including William H. Vanderbilt, with his signature mutton chops -- found their way into the cartoon, but not Blaine’s dinner.

Had McDougall’s cartoon run earlier in the election cycle, it might not have been as devastating. In politics, timing is everything, and the appearance of “Royal Feast” less than a week before voters went to the polls helped frame the 1884 campaign in a way that Republicans found impossible to rebut.

Black-and-white cartoons would soon become a staple feature of daily newspapers, ushering in a new age of image-driven politics. “Royal Feast” set the stage, demonstrating how one journalist could help tip an election by crystallizing popular hostility to the corrupting nexus of big business and politics. It could also offer lessons for today’s big-money campaigns: If Blaine were alive today, he would certainly feel Romney’s pain.

(Richard R. John is a historian who teaches in the doctoral program at Columbia Journalism School. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Dennis324 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:19 am

Lol! Thats pretty bad. Yep we think of politics in theis country as being pretty dirty. But it used to be far worse. Take, for example, the election between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

It was a pretty dicey election to begin with. Adams was called a tyrant and closet Tory in the Republican press. Jefferson was assailed in Federalist newspapers as an atheist, a revolutionist, an embezzler and more, and one newspaper loyal to Adams actually printed that Thomas Jefferson was dead. Yep! The story was first planted in the pro-Jefferson Baltimore American on June 30, 1800. Just when the Presidential campaign was beginning to heat up.

But as you might guess the news of the death of a presidential candidate spread across the country like wildfire especially with the press. The story was re-printed in paper after paper. There were those papers, of course, who demanded that proof be presented of the death of Thomas Jefferson and there was one reporter who swore that, indeed Thomas Jefferson of the House of Monticello fame had died. And sure enough, Thomas Jefferson had died.

But, It’s a Little Known Fact that it was a slave, one actually owned by Thomas Jefferson the presidential candidate, who also lived at Monticello, and had named himself after the owner — had actually passed away. It was later proven that the reporter knew only too well that it was a slave who had passed and not the former Secretary of State, but the chance to throw the election in the favor of his friend Mr. Adams, well that was just too much for this man to resist.

Smile

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Bryant on Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:59 pm

Thank you for this post!
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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Marconius on Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:40 am

I really don't think Mitt has it bad. Anyone dumb enough to be offended by that statement was never gonna be voting for him anyway.


Great post though. Many seem to think that politics and elections have just now started to become dirty. It always has been. That is one of the many reasons why those who wish to put more power and authority into government's hands are pretty stupid.

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Marconius on Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:48 am

Of course I really need to mention the GOP's silly attempts at "payback". It seems that they have a couple of old vids (from the 90's) that have President Obama talking about collectivism and redistribution. I watched both and they are the same exact, blown outta proportion crap as the one with Mitt.

Once again, I don't see the point. Those stupid enough to be offended were never gonna vote for President Obama anyway.

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"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Miles1 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:35 am

Marconius wrote:Of course I really need to mention the GOP's silly attempts at "payback". It seems that they have a couple of old vids (from the 90's) that have President Obama talking about collectivism and redistribution. I watched both and they are the same exact, blown outta proportion crap as the one with Mitt.

Well, they're just getting silly now: Fox's False Attack On Obama (Meeting With Pirates Edition)

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Dennis324 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:21 am

Miles1 wrote:

Well, they're just getting silly now: Fox's False Attack On Obama (Meeting With Pirates Edition)

Yeah Media Matters has a bit of a grudge to grind. I wont get into it too deeply so here's a link to check out:Media Matters' war against Fox

But this is a good example of how our media has strayed so far from being truly objective. I guess Fox does it too, especially after 5pm. But some groups are just assassins. Rolling Eyes

There is something going on in politics right now though that I dont really see what the big deal is. All of a sudden Hannity and Ore'lly and a buncha folks at Fox are acting surprised that Obama has said that he is for 'redistribution of wealth'. Like this is some big surprise! Heck, I first learned about it in '07 when he was talking to 'Joe the Plumber' on the campaign trail. They've hammered Obama on this for years! Why is this such shocking news though? We KNOW he's for redistribution of wealth. He has never denied it.

I'm a fan of Fox news, but that is just as hypocritical (imo) as the left hammering Romney on comments he made about Obama not sending a strong message to the Libyans and Egyptians. Imo, Romney has a point!

Each side is trying to score political points I think but rather than laying out their plan for the voters to decide, its just getting nit picky. Each side (including news organizations) are trying to play "gotcha".




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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Douglas J. Shireman on Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:28 pm

I wonder if anyone slamming Romney for that comment also slammed Obama for his "you didn't build that, someone else did" fiasco. I doubt it but then again also vise versa. Before the campaigning even started people already knew who they were voting for.

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Marconius on Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:20 pm

Dennis324 wrote:

Yeah Media Matters has a bit of a grudge to grind. I wont get into it too deeply so here's a link to check out:Media Matters' war against Fox


Every time I realize Media Matters retains its tax exempt status, I vomit in my mouth just a bit.......umph.....there it went.

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-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Marconius on Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:24 pm

Douglas J. Shireman wrote:I wonder if anyone slamming Romney for that comment also slammed Obama for his "you didn't build that, someone else did" fiasco. I doubt it but then again also vise versa. Before the campaigning even started people already knew who they were voting for.

It was tried, but MSM went to work and smoothed it over quickly.

While the other things the President has said, like the "guns and God" reference, never bothered me, that one did. It flew directly in the face of everything this nation stands for. Eh, maybe I'm too sensitive.

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"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Miles1 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:23 am

Douglas J. Shireman wrote: Before the campaigning even started people already knew who they were voting for.

Why bother spending billions on campaigning so?

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Douglas J. Shireman on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:33 am

Good question. Maybe we should ask them but I would guess it would be unprofessional to assume that simply and not do your campaign. Plus there are a few swingers are actually don't vote along party lines just because.

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Miles1 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:22 am

Douglas J. Shireman wrote:Good question. Maybe we should ask them but I would guess it would be unprofessional to assume that simply and not do your campaign. Plus there are a few swingers are actually don't vote along party lines just because.

so what they're doing is "professional"? And all of the negative campaigning and back-biting and pettiness and bitchiness from both sides is supposed to encourage the non-decided people to vote for them then? The whole thing seems to be "the other side say we're bad, but they're worse than we are, you're screwed if you vote for them".

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Re: and you thought Mitt had it bad....

Post by Douglas J. Shireman on Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:46 am

Miles1 wrote:
Douglas J. Shireman wrote:Good question. Maybe we should ask them but I would guess it would be unprofessional to assume that simply and not do your campaign. Plus there are a few swingers are actually don't vote along party lines just because.

so what they're doing is "professional"? And all of the negative campaigning and back-biting and pettiness and bitchiness from both sides is supposed to encourage the non-decided people to vote for them then? The whole thing seems to be "the other side say we're bad, but they're worse than we are, you're screwed if you vote for them".

lol no. The attitude of them is NOT professional. But simply saying "everyone knows who they're voting for so lets not even bother campaigning" would also be unprofessional.

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