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Friday, November 09, 2007

Eleanor the ornery campaigner

From "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families," by Noemie Emery:
"As if trying to show where his heart really was, Ted [Roosevelt Jr.] tried to campaign on his impressive war record and held flag-waving rallies surrounded by veterans. But he was fighting not only one, but two major enemies: [Alfred E.] Smith, a veteran campaigner and genuine success story from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and his own father, whose galvanic memory made all around him seem dim by comparison, including, alas, his own sons. He was also damaged by an implied connection to one of the many scandals of the Harding administration, the transfer of oil leases at Teapot Dome in Wyoming that briefly had been under his control in the Navy Department but in which he had played no real part. It was at this point that Eleanor [Roosevelt] moved in for the kill, dressing a car in a papier-mache "teapot" in which she trailed Ted as he made campaign speeches, interrupting him with blasts of steam from its improvised "spout." On Election Day, Ted lost the state [New York] by a hundred thousand votes out of a three-million-vote total, and his dream of succeeding his father was shattered. Eleanor, for her part had emerged as a vengeful, and powerful, player. And Franklin's own rise had begun."

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