Friday, October 14, 2011

The Great Commoner and the Huckster

Sometimes you see stuff that just makes you cringe. This campaign button from the 2008 presidential campaign makes me wince.

The usually unimpeachable source tells us that Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a supporter of popular democracy, an enemy of gold, banks and railroads, a leader of the silverite movement in the 1890s, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, and an opponent of Darwinism on religious grounds.

The Huckster, as they called him in Arkansas, is none of these things and never was.

Bryan was a deeply religious, principled midwesterner who attained high office but never became President in three tries, and he always fought for the oppressed and the victims of corporate greed. Huckabee, by contrast, is a bible thumping tea bagger who got a talk radio job and decided he'd rather boo from the sidelines than fight for principle in the blood and sweat of the arena.

Bryan never gave up.

Another president, Theodore Roosevelt, once mused on the difference between fighters and quitters:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.


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