Monday, November 3, 2008

An Election-Day Eve Piece of Political Trivia

You've all heard the parable of Abraham Lincoln, the man who failed at so many things and yet persevered all the way to the White House and to the pedestal of history.

At the other end of the spectrum is a particular twentieth-century president who only lost one election in his entire life.

  1. Name this President.
  2. Name the man who defeated him in a run for office.
  3. Name the fictional character based upon the man who is the answer to #2.

Note: Although there is more than one twentieth-century president who lost only one election, there is only one for whom all three questions above make sense.


Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Wow, this was tough. Here's my guess:

"Name this President." George Herbert Walker Bush

"Name the man who defeated him in a run for office." Bill Clinton

"Name the fictional character based upon the man who is the answer to #2." Josiah Bartlett in The West Wing

Taran said...

The answer is (I'm pretty sure)

President Lyndon Baines Johnson

LBJ lost the special election in 1941 for the U.S. Senate to the sitting Governor of Texas: W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel

Menelaus "Pappy" O'Daniel was loosely based on the Texas governor in the vastly underrated "O' Brother Where Art Thou?" (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000)

(I always knew those long hours singing Man of Constant Sorrow while reading Robert Caro would come in handy one day!)

Bart Barber said...

BT: Good guess. Nice try.

But the winner is Taran!

"We ain't one-at-a-timin' here; we're MASS COMMUNICATIN"

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Yes, Taran wins the prize. I think George H. W. Bush lost a race in Texas.

Bart Barber said...


George Herbert Walker Bush lost more than one election in his lifetime.

Of course, one might take issue with my characterization of LBJs political record as well. Since Taran has been reading Caro, there's a good chance that he will point to Jim Wells County, Texas, in 1948 and suggest that Coke Stevenson also defeated LBJ, but just didn't get credit for it.

Welcome to Texas politics, my friends. ;-)

Bart Barber said...

Or should I say, Texas DEMOCRAT politics.

Bart Barber said...

And a final couple of questions to Taran:

Today's you think it will be more of a paddling or a kicking sitcheeation?

Do you think that McCain's campaign should have gotten themselves some of that REform?

Taran said...

My heart says McCain in the electoral college, but my head says it'll be a paddlin' situation. For some reason he had bad advisors telling him how to court the elect'rate. Maybe he should've gotten him a little man too.

Caro's trilogy is a masterpiece. My favorite part is from the first book (Means of Ascent) is a chapter called “Sad Irons” (available on Google). It’s a haunting piece on life in early twentieth century Texas Hill Country.

volfan007 said...

He should have had a little Wow, that one made me chuckle a little bit. Thanks.


Bart Barber said...

Not just a little man....a little man with a broom.


So what do you think, Taran? Did LBJ steal the 1948 primary away from Stevenson?

Anonymous said...

I've also heard that LBJ lost the 1960 election as VP.
I think those who say this believe he had a little help in Chicago and Duvall County.
David R. Brumbelow

Taran said...


I do think that LBJ stole the election in 1948 which was about par for Texas politics back them. But in his "defense" O'Daniel also clearly stole the election in 41. After he lost in 1941, Johnson vowed never to lose a stolen election again.

I do agree with Brumbelow that LBJ gave JFK some much needed "help" against Nixon in 1960 with fraudulent votes from the Rio Grande valley. And to Nixon's eternal credit, he never contested that election because he was afraid that it would cause people to question the integrity of the electoral system.

My favorite voter fraud LBJ story had to do with he and a subordinate "registering voters” at a cemetery. One part of the cemetery was overgrown with weeds and vines so his subordinate said “Mr. Johnson, I can’t get back to those tombstones to write down their names.” LBJ cursed him out and said “Get back there and write down those names. Those corpses have as much right to vote as anyone else in this cemetery!”