Sweet Moment for the Underdog

Well, you could hardly expect my voting for anyone else, seeing President Harry Truman was a Missourian as was I, but then again, I recall our classroom campaign, and some campaigned for Thomas Dewey. Then the vote, and within our classroom Harry Truman was now the President.

But in the real election, do you recall that he was the underdog, terribly far down in the polls? Few believed he could win the election. Foremost among those were the publishers of The Chicago Tribune who did the unthinkable: They printed and published a newspaper bearing the strong headline–Dewey Defeats Truman. Silly people.  For them a nightmare ensued, and one of the most famous news pictures in the world–probably my personal favorite–is of newly elected Harry Truman holding a newspaper boldly declaring his defeat.

November 3, 1948

President Harry S. Truman holds up a copy of the Tribune after his presidential election, arguably one of the most famous headline mistakes. (UPI/Corbis-Bettmann)

As a presidential candidate, Gov. Thomas Dewey of New York was not a glad-hander, not a flesh-presser. He was stiff and tended toward pomposity. “The only man who could strut sitting down” was the crack that made the rounds. But on Nov. 2, Election Day, an overwhelming sense of inevitability hung about the Republican nominee. The polls and the pundits left no room for doubt: Dewey was going to defeat President Harry S. Truman. And the Tribune would be the first to report it.

Arguably the most famous headline in the newspaper’s 150-year history, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN is every publisher’s nightmare on every election night. Like most newspapers, the Tribune, which had dismissed him on its editorial page as a “nincompoop,” was lulled into a false sense of security by polls that repeatedly predicted a Dewey victory. Critically important, though, was a printers’ strike, which forced the paper to go to press hours before it normally would.As the first-edition deadline approached, managing editor J. Loy “Pat” Maloney had to make the headline call, although many East Coast tallies were not yet in. Maloney banked on the track record of Arthur Sears Henning, the paper’s longtime Washington correspondent. Henning said Dewey. Henning was rarely wrong. Besides, Life magazine had just carried a big photo of Dewey with the caption “The next President of the United States.”

The ink was hardly dry on 150,000 copies of the paper when radio bulletins reported that the race was surprisingly close. The headline was changed to DEMOCRATS MAKE SWEEP OF STATE OFFICES for the second edition. Truman went on to take Illinois and much of the Midwest in this whopping election surprise. Radio comedian Fred Allen noted Truman was the “first president to lose in a Gallup and win in a walk.” The Tribune blamed the pollsters for its mistake.

The headline might well have been quickly forgotten but for a chance encounter two days later in St. Louis.

Truman, traveling by rail to Washington, stepped to the rear platform of the train and was handed a copy of the Tribune early edition. He had as low an opinion of the Tribune as it did of him. Truman held the paper up, and photographers preserved the moment for history.

From the Chicago Tribune

Are you listening Senator McCain? I’m pulling for you.

20 thoughts on “Sweet Moment for the Underdog

  1. Trying to minimize and marginalize the questions brought against Obama as “hate” and “fear” won’t work either. Hate is a motive. Questions are the outworking of concern. The thought police need to hang up their badge, it’s not going to work.

    A President that believes in Evil and Good is an important value. One who sees nothing but gray, a relative secularist world is also one who cannot make critical decisions, except against those who make decisions.

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  2. Sandy

    I am a classic swing voter. In my lifetime, I’ve voted for three Republicans, three Democrats.

    In 200o I was a big supporter of McCain. In fact, I sent him a campaign donation, the only candidate I’ve ever supported with cash.

    I was outraged by the campaign tactics Bush used, the old, ugly style of politics of Nixon and tactics that appeal to the most ignorant who can be swayed by such nastiness.

    I no longer respect McCain and now feel sorry for him. As the Bible says, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but loses his soul?”

    John McCain lost his soul, his uniqueness, his honesty. For winning’s sake, he took up the tactics the real McCain would never use. His pick of Palin showed not charachter or the wise decision making we need, but political gimmickry. She seems like a nice enough person, but her lack of knowledge about the most basic things scare me.

    What is most disturbing is the utter hate and venom directed against Obama, from the party that is supposed to represent “values” and the Christianity they use…and I mean use, use as a tool. The Muslim-terrorist-socialist-communist-anti-patriotic rhetoric should make all Americans ashamed.

    I have a personality a lot like McCain and that’s useful in so many ways, but not for a president who must be thoughtful, calm and yes, SMART and intellectual. Why people want someone who is a “regular Joe” as president astounds me.

    What doctor do you want operating on your kid? The most elite, smartest, calmest one or the so-so regular Joe who would fun to have a beer with.

    The hate must stop, becuase it is no different from the tactics of the Taliban and the way they rail against their “infidels.”

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  3. Greg the Explorer

    Hey Shirley – I wondered if anyone would pick up on my lead the world comment. In terms of election and ‘superiority’, no, your president is not the leader of the world. However, the rest of the world does look to America and take on most of it’s cultural and moral product. The world does look to the US for leadership as the biggest and richest and most powerful nation on earth. Now let me qualify what I’ve just said. In recent times the US has become a place where fear lives – restrictions on entry, security that is just beyond ridiculous and a foreign policy which sees any political structure other then democracy as being evil – this has been swallowed by most of the rest of the ‘western’ world…I think it is wrong.

    I would love to see a US leader who understood the African concept of Ubuntu (google it and see the wikipedia entry on the philosophy not the linux program) – we are who we are because of our connection to all other people.

    An attempt at a definition of Ubuntu has been made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1999):

    “ A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. ”

    Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows;

    “ A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?”

    This is the direction the world needs to head in – we are all connected – we need to all look after one another and not be fearful of not having enough to go round. we also need to live far more simply than we do. I believe that Barak Obama can lead the US and, by proxy, the world in just this direction

    love and peace

    Greg

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  4. Welcome to my blog, Char72. Truman was elected in 1948. I was 10–now 70! (Have no idea how that happened. 🙂 Only yesterday I was tending babies…and all that)

    Keep the faith, keep praying, keep talking. These next couple of weeks are crucial ones. You know what’s neat about being a Christian? No matter what happens, we’re safe in the arms of Jesus.

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  5. char72

    I must have been about the same age as you were when Truman was elected. I don’t recall the exact year right now. I should know that. Anyway, I’m always glad to read blogs that I agree with. Recent polls have been pretty discouraging to me. This is something I pray about every day – several times every day actually. I get so distressed that almost everybody blames the Republicans for the mess our country is in when it is actually the Democrats who are mostly responsible. I’d better not get of on that. Anyway, I am hoping and praying that it will be like the Dewey thing. Maybe McCain will surprise everybody.

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  6. Greg the Explorer

    Hi Shirley – from the perspective of a few thousand miles of distance I actually think that for the first time in a very long time America actually has two extraordinarily fine candidates for the presidency. I was truelly dissapointed when Al Gore lost to Dubbya. However this time round I think I’d rather see Obama win but I feel like I’d be quite happy for John McCain to win as well.

    I think the single greatest issue facing the entire world at this time is the global financial melt down we are experiencing – continued greed and a belief in ever increasing prosperity (sound like any well known televangelists?) just flies in the face of what we learn from the bible. My prayer is that whoever gets in will be able to lead the world in a new direction.

    Hi Greg. Always glad when you come by. In reference to your last sentence, I have a sincere question for you? Do you think either President Obama or President McCain will be able to lead the world in a new direction? Should they be able to do so? Is the President of the United States the leader of the world?

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  7. Esther

    I must admit that now that Colin Powel has endorced Obama, I am starting to get depressed. I am very disappointed in Powel. Just have to keep praying for a miracle. What I really wish is that there were not allowed “Poles”. I think the outcome would be very different if the liberals did not control all the media.

    Don’t be depressed. Just continue to talk with every friend, neighbor, family and encourage them to vote on Nov. 4th.

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  8. I think that Senator McCain has a very good chance of winning! I know a lot of Obama supporters and I know they have good reasons for supporting him however I know too many McCain supporters all over the place not to think he has a chance! I have always been the optimist of my family and group of friends though!

    Keep the positive thinking and talking going. We cannot afford to become discouraged.

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  9. Rob in Gallup

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for an underdog victory this time around, but that doesn’t stop me from praying for a miracle.

    We must keep praying and working. Thank you for all you are doing.

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  10. Sorry, I don’t have much to say on this subject. I am just not into politics!!! 😦 I am voting for McCain, for 2 reasons, 1. He is pro-life 2. Obama SCARES ME!!!!!!!!!! Anyways, I posted some new writing stuff. A fun story and poem so if you get the chance come check it out! God bless you!
    Mary

    Mary, I’ll get over to your place and read your new things.

    Why does Senator Obama scare you?

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  11. Springfield Mo. Please tell, who else could or would you vote for? The favorite son is the only option.
    But he still won, and that is what matters;
    Mervi

    Not long ago I read that history is treating Harry Truman rather well.

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  12. Very good story.

    In elementary we had a election too and I didn’t know that much about Bill Clinton or Bob Dole, besides what they looked like. So I ‘wrote in’ Abraham Lincoln instead on the ballot.. haha, I showed them! What did that prove, you ask? I still don’t really know.

    Well, did your man win?

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  13. Rebecca Cowen

    Psalm 75:6

    “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. ” Psalm 71:1″ In thee O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. 2 Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear into me, and save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress. 4 Deliver me, O my God out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. 5 For thou art my hope, O Lord God thou art my trust from my youth.”

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  14. Pingback: » Sweet Moment for the Underdog »Digital Photography

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