Thursday 14 January 2010

The Harry Truman show

Damian McBride has caused a kerfuffle with his appearance at a BBC (not for broadcast) event for political staff.

Paul Waugh reports that McBride says that Gordon Brown should model his campaign on Harry Truman, probably the greatest US presidential campaign and political comeback.

But Hopi Sen points out that he was ahead of the curve, with his own GB as Harry Truman post back in February 2008.

Next Left will raise Hopi all the way back to December 2007, with a Fabian Review editorial, which was reported in The Observer.

If opposition politicians and commentators want to make Gordon Brown the underdog in this election, they could be making a dangerous mistake. But perhaps, like Harry Truman, Brown should relish the mantle and make it the key to the political fightback that Labour needs.

That piece made a case for the 'underdog strategy' adopted by Peter Mandelson and tout le monde last Autumn.

I expect a prior claim will be along in a minute.


The influence of Harry Truman on Brown has been evident for some time, particularly in his "do nothing" challenges to the Conservative opposition to the economic stimulus.

There is a certain topicality to Truman's 1948 Convention speech.

In this election, I know very well why the Republicans want to stick to vague generalities and stay away from specific issues. It is because-on the issues that count with the people, the Republican Party is wrong, and the Democratic Party is right.

But we will take care of that. We will tell the people where the Democratic Party stands. And, since the Republicans are ashamed to tell where they stand, we will tell the people about where they stand, too.

There was a time a few years ago, when the Republicans would come out - even at election time - and openly attack the Democratic Party's New Deal. But that didn't work so well. They lost too many elections that way. So they changed their tune.

Then they began coming around at election time with a theme song entitled, "Me, too, but I can do it better.
" They lost a few elections that way, too, but they're still trying.

They tell you, "We know the Democrats took you out of the great depression that we created, but they didn't do it very well. We can do it better."

The Republicans tell you, "We are all for labor's right to collective bargaining, which the Democrats gave you, but we know how to make it work better."

They say to the farmer, "We know you are better off than you ever have been before, and the Democratic farm program is so good that we are not against it any more, but we could run it a lot better."

They don't talk much at election time about how they fought against these great progressive measures tooth and toenail. They just say, "Turn all these Democratic programs over to us, and we will take care of everything. Just leave everything up to the Republican Party and you won't have anything to worry about."


The Republican Party doesn't like to be referred to as the party of special privilege.

They want you to think that the elephant's got a "new look."

I know that there are enlightened and liberal elements in the Republican Party. But they do not control it
. Any liberal who wants to make his vote count in this election must vote for the Democratic Party.

If there ever was any doubt about this, it has now been dispelled. The leadership of the Republican Party stands foursquare upon the record made by that party in the 80th Congress - the "do-nothing" Congress - as far as the welfare of the people is concerned.

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