products. LBJ, however, used
the pretty little flower to
paint Barry Goldwater as a
And who can forget the
1856 election, between James
Buchanan and John Fremont? Buchanan’s Democrats argued that electing
an antislavery Republican
would cause a civil war.
Thank goodness voters listened and
elected Buchanan. A civil war would
have been disastrous.
This 1856 campaign leaflet
paints John Fremont as
the candidate of war and
DEBATES During the 2008 nominating contests
alone there were almost 50 debates. Then again, there
were 20 candidates, so ... doing the math here ... if each
debate was two hours long—and Wolf Blitzer talked
for one of those hours—that’s 50 hours divided by
20 people. Each candidate got to talk for a maximum
of two and a half hours.
THEY DON’T WRITE ’EM
LIKE THEY USED TO
This election has been a big one musically. Hip-hop artist—and Obama backer—
will.i.am rocked You Tube with “Yes,
We Can.” Celine Dion’s “You and I” was
Hillary Clinton’s short-lived campaign
song, notable as the first presidential
theme song imported from Canada
(making Senator Clinton’s opposition
to NAFTA all the more baffling). McCain
backer and lawyer Judd Kessler penned
“Lead the Way” for his candidate—
without question, one of the hottest tracks
from a lawyer this year.
But campaign songs have been
around since at least 1840, when
“Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too” dropped.
The song commemorated William
Henry Harrison’s victory at the battle
of Tippecanoe and his running mate
John Tyler’s victory at ... securing
a place on the ticket with Harrison.
The song was an important campaign
device and, according to one newspaper, “sang
Harrison into the presidency.”
The strength of a campaign song may very
well foretell a candidate’s viability: Nebraska’s
William Jennings Bryan made three unsuccessful runs for the White House. His campaign
had a song—but the writer couldn’t come up
with anything to rhyme with his home state of
Nebraska. (True, we hadn’t yet given statehood
to Alaska, but how hard can it be to rhyme with
Nebraska, I ask ya?)
Tell that to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas,
who debated seven times, for three hours each time—
just the two of them. That’s 10. 5 hours each with no
commercial interruption—and this was just for a lousy
Back then, debates were far more important than
they are in today’s zillion-channel universe. As Sabato
says, “With this election season, even if they screw up in
a debate, they’ll probably be simultaneously on a dozen
other channels talking about other subjects to other
audiences.” True, today’s candidates need only wait out
a short news cycle for something embarrassing to pass.
In Lincoln’s day it took at least three weeks to build a
It’s 3 a.m. Do you know where your candidate is?
Do you? Because the phone is ringing, and if it
goes to voice mail we’re goners.
Today’s campaign-commercial fear mongering may seem cutting edge, but it’s Little League
compared to Lyndon Johnson’s infamous anti-Goldwater “daisy” spot.
Daisies are usually used in commercials to plug flower delivery
services or feminine hygiene