Saturday, January 9, 2010

Governor Alfred M. Landon

The Republican convention in Cleveland that June reflected the divide within the party: The most rousing speech came from ex-president Herbert Hoover, who told the delegates that Roosevelt's second term would result in the "violence and outrage by which European despotisms have crushed all liberalism and all freedom." The Hoover speech, reported the Times the next day, produced "wild and uncontrollable bursts of frenzy" in the partisan audience.

But the Republican nominee, Governor Alfred M. Landon of Kansas, did not share Hoover's apocalyptic vision or his ability to whip up the crowd. Alf Landon, a forty-eight year-old oilman who had built his reputation on fiscal austerity, was the only Republican governor to win election in the West in 1932, and he repeated the feat two years later. He planned to attack the Roosevelt administration for overspending. But Landon was a bland candidate in every respect: a man of medium height with gray eyes behind rimless glasses. Although he was privately charming, his speech was flat and drawling and he had no gift for oratory. Father Coughlin, who should know, once described Landon as "a most honest man but the most colorless candidate in the history of the United States."
- Furious Improvsation: Hpw the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art out of Desperate Times, p. 129-130
It should be noted that, in an attempt not to appear like a demigod, Landon accepted the nomination of his party in absentia on 11 June. Does this mean he was not even in Cleveland, at all, for the convention?

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