This Is a Blog: Losers in Brief: Generals Make Bad Presidents

Monday, April 29, 2013

Losers in Brief: Generals Make Bad Presidents

(part 4 of 12)

Since 1789, 112 men have won at least one electoral vote. Of that group, 65 never became President or Vice President. Of them, 30 were a bunch of ambitious losers who tried for the most powerful office in the country and failed. The other 35, you’ll have to read to find out. These are their stories.

George Brinton McClellan (General, Democrat-PA) Lost to Lincoln-1864

A few months before the election, Lincoln was certain he was going to lose. He had removed McClellan from command over the entire army, and things were still not going well. Still seen as a military hero, McClellan had the balls to stand ardently for the rights of slave holders, locking up the Southern vote.

So why’d he lose? The south didn’t vote. Um, duh, they seceded. But also, the Union Army actually started winning for a change. Good thing too, McClellan holds the distinction of being on a very short list of presidential candidates who were psychotic. I’m not using slang here. The man was a psychopath, clinically.

Horatio Seymour (Governor, Democrat-NY) Lost to Grant-1868

During the Civil War, Seymour seemed like the most level-headed guy in the country. He did not support slavery, but he thought Northerners had no business sticking their noses in Southern affairs. Besides, he thought slavery was not a sustainable business model and it would soon go away anyway. His leadership helped the North win the war, and he believed in treating the South fairly. I don’t know about you, but that’s the guy I want running Reconstruction.

So why’d he lose? HE DID NOT WANT TO RUN. Not at all, not even remotely. He made no less than five speeches insisting the party not nominate him. Then he went out for a quick cigarette, and they nominated him behind his back. And three of those big, key Southern states weren’t re-admitted to the Union yet. Despite all that, he lost by some spectacularly close margins. Seriously, though. He was running against fucking Grant. There was no way he was going to win.

Horace Greeley (Publisher, Liberal Republican-NY) Lost to Grant-1872

The man who declared, "Go west, young man," Greeley was one of the country's most respected newspaper men. His brilliant political journalism led to many of the Whig's campaign successes, and his staunch abolitionism basically created the Republican Party. When he saw Grant shitting on his party, he broke away and ran against him. No man of his era understood politics more, and his brilliance made Grant look like even more of an idiot.

So why'd be lose? Maybe it was because Grant was beloved, despite the scandals. Maybe it was because Greeley was seen as a traitor to his party. Maybe it was because he helped bail Jefferson Davis out of jail. Maybe it was because his running mate once got drunk at a campaign event and tried to butter a watermelon. Doesn't really matter, since he died shortly after the election.

MORE BIG LOSERS- 1872 Circle Jerk Edition:

So Horace Greeley died before they could count the votes. Ever wonder what happens then? Turns out electors are allowed to pledge their votes to the other guys who ran. Most went to future VP Thomas Hendricks, but the others went to:

MO Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown (18 votes-1872)- He once got drunk at a campaign event and tried to butter a watermelon.

Former GA Governor Charles Jones Jenkins (2 votes-1872)- Depending on your particular leanings, Jenkins is either the Governor who stood up to military rule of his state after the Civil War, or he’s the Governor who refused to racially integrate his state government. Either way, once again, a couple electors from Georgia decided to give him their votes just for the fuck of it.

Supreme Court Justice David Davis (1 vote-1872)- Despite holding a cushy, life-long gig, Davis figured a go at the White House could be fun. After losing to Greeley in the primary he returned to, I guess, his fall back job. Not only did he have the best name ever, he played a pivotal role in the cluster fuck that would be the election of 1876. Coming up next month!

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