Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias While chatting with an acquaintance here in town last week, we began talking about how close the presidential race had been.

He was concerned about the ability of not only our newspaper, but print media across the nation, to be able to accurately report who the people had chosen as the next president of the United States after Tuesday's general election.

"It sounds like you could have another 'Dewey Defeats Truman' situation on your hands," he said.

At first I thought this scenario wasn't very likely, especially today, in this age of the World Wide Web and instant communications.

But, as I began writing this early Tuesday evening, I came to realize that our colleagues who work at writing and editing daily newspapers with morning delivery may find themselves in what I'll call the "Dewey Dilemma."

During the presidential election campaign in 1948, almost everyone expected New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey to win and few had faith in a victory for incumbent Harry S. Truman. While Truman went on a "whistle stop" tour across the United States, giving more than 350 speeches, Dewey's confident campaign was more reserved. On Nov. 2, 1948, Truman won the presidential election. The Chicago Daily Tribune had been so sure of Dewey's victory that they had printed front-page "Dewey Defeats Truman" articles before the final results were in. Truman had the last laugh after defeating Dewey by 2.2 million popular votes and 114 electoral votes.

The race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush for the presidency is so close, the election winner may not be known until Wednesday morning.

But I've decided to go out on a limb. If I was editing a major daily newspaper, there would be, in huge, screaming, bold type, this headline: Bush Defeats Gore.

The headline is the easy part. What's more difficult is writing an analysis, in advance, that explains why Bush won.

I could start by writing that he seems to be a nice enough guy. He is easy on the eyes and on the nerves, too. He can be pretty funny. He makes friends easily; people like him. He seems to be fundamentally honest. He is a decent man. He is loyal. He is a reasonably effective and popular governor of a large state.

And, one must admit, some of the things that fall out of his mouth are a marvel and a worry � it's as if someone cloned a human using DNA from Yogi Berra and Dan Quayle.

Take Bush's stand on education: "My education program will resignate among all parents."

On foreign policy: "A key to foreign policy is to rely on reliance."

On whether Social Security recipients will receive the same benefits under his plan as under the current system: "Maybe, maybe not."

On his budget proposal: "It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."

Readers may wonder why a man who has trouble spitting out a proper sentence at times has been elected to the highest office in the land.

The answer is simple, really. Bush is just more likeable.

Democratic loyalists may not adore Gore, but they like him fine and assumed the voters liked him fine, too. But the voters didn't know Gore that well, and when they did get to know him, a lot of them decided he

was not likable.

More attention should have been paid to the fact that Gore was never popular with his colleagues in the House and Senate.

Gore's loss also can be attributed to his campaign betting that old-fashioned Democratic class-based liberalism would resonate with the populace.

But the country remains more conservative than liberal in more places, and the majority view on such issues as taxes and big government jibes more with Republican philosophy than Democratic.

That's why Bush won. End of story.

Of course, by the time this hits our presses Thursday, it may be determined that Gore won the election.

In that case, employ the vice versa option above.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>