The Despair of the GOP
I F DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER'S installation at Columbia had not been with the Presidency of the United States in mind, 1948 was nevertheless a good time for the retired soldier to be there. Tom Dewey's perplexing loss to Harry Truman had created a mood of desperation among Republicans. The certain return of the GOP to Washington after four White House terms had been, incredibly, thwarted by a President who, it was assumed, few were taking seriously. Perhaps it was the GOP that was dead, some were saying. With almost gloating despair, Colonel Robert McCormick's super-nationalistic Chicago Tribune promptly editorialized that, "For the third time, a Republican convention fell under vicious influences and nominated a 'me-too' candidate who conducted a 'me-too' campaign. For the third time the strategy failed. That is why Mr. Truman was elected and with him a Democratic House and Senate." And then the paper warned: "After this experience, we may hope the Republicans have learned their lesson. If the same forces control the next Republican convention the party is finished and the millions of patriotic men and women who have looked to it for leadership will have to look elsewhere."1 Whether the GOP followed the Colonel's admonition or approached 1952 with similar candidates was evolving as the great political question. Continuing a crusade that had begun even before the New Deal had had a chance to prove what it could not do, conservatives of both parties were becoming far more desperate than Al Smith's old American Liberty Leaguers.
The election of 1948 was, in some ways, the greatest shock of all to the Republican party. With the sole exception of analyst Louis Bean, the