Peter Bronson writes of an incident during the 1948 presidential race that had a profound effect on the outcome which was a stunning upset by President Truman over Thomas Dewey.
The polls loved Dewey as Truman’s approval rating was in the range of President Bush, very low. The Democrats were in the same unenviable position that the Republicans face today: certain defeat.
Little did the powerful Republicans know, President Harry had a trump card up his sleeve.
During his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, he called Congress back into session to "finish the people’s business." The Republicans had already taken their summer break but before they left town, they had obstructed several of Truman’s policies on items like civil rights, health care, and Social Security. At the Republican Convention, however, some of Truman’s polices suddenly appeared in their platform.
On June 26, 1948, the so called "do nothing Congress" was ordered back in session by Truman proclaiming "they can do this job in 15 days if they want to do it." Congress refused to return.
In 2008, we see a similar situation. President Bush has a low approval rating and the rating of Congress is even lower. Before recess this year, Bush asked them to vote on his proposal for offshore oil drilling. As Republican House leader Robert Taft did 60 years ago, Nancy Pelosi refused. Suddenly, with about a week to go before the Democratic Convention, Pelosi and Obama are adding offshore drilling to their policy. If that is so, Bush should make them vote on it now. If they refuse, Bush still wins and can relate to the "do nothing Congress" of 1948.
When Pelosi and Harry Reid shut down Congress last month, their approval rating was 9% and dropping. Regardless, many in the media are now ready to print the "Obama Defeats McCain" headlines. Not so fast, fellas. The polls show BO with a lead of 2% to 5% with a long way to go and something like this over oil may give McCain that extra boost to pull off the same type of upset that Truman accomplished in 1948. In politics, one never knows.