Scott Burgess at The Daily Ablution responds to my inquiry as to whether any major presidential candidate prior to Dean has alleged that an incumbent president didn’t want to do a good job and/or that an incumbent’s presidency was plagued by unresolved issues with his father. Mr. Burgess writes: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Jackson did something similar to J. Q. Adams in the bitter campaigns of 1824 and 1828. It’s interesting that Adams, like W, got fewer popular votes than his opponent in 1824. In fact, he had fewer electoral votes as well, but was appointed President anyway, accounting for great hostility on the Jacksonian side, which manifested itself in the ’28 election. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if similar charges to Dean’s were raised in that election (though I’m to lazy to seek them out!)”
Actually, I doubt that Old Hickory engaged in psycho-babble (this is pre-Freud, remember), but the point is well-taken — Jackson’s attacks on the second president Adams may well make Dean’s rants seem tame. However, as Mr. Burgess suggests, the 1828 campaign was perhaps the most bitter in our history. Unless someone shows me a more recent example, I’m going to conclude that Dean is violating longstanding unwritten rules of civility. If the men who ran against the likes of Nixon and Clinton could avoid attacks this personal, then why can’t Dean?
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