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The wind began to howl


Extremely surprising (to me) fact: Kamala Harris is older now than LBJ was on the day he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law.

I’m in the midst of a project about Harry Truman, and I’ve been struck by how chronically and seriously ill FDR was by the summer of 1944, when Truman ended up replacing Henry Wallace as the VP on the ticket. Truman edged out William O. Douglas for the spot — imagine how different history might be if Wallace or Douglas had succeeded Roosevelt.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that pretty much everyone close to FDR expected that it was more likely than not that he wouldn’t survive his fourth term. Given that, the choice of Truman– a fairly obscure senator of not much particular reputation — seems in retrospect to have happened in a rather cavalier fashion.

Continuing these meanderings, I was also surprised that Truman himself selected the 71-year-old Alben Barkley as his own vice president (71 was a lot older in 1948 than in it is today — a 65-year-old white man only had a life expectancy of 12.8 years in 1950, — it’s nearly 50% longer now — so I would imagine a typical 71-year-old’s would be in the neighborhood of eight or nine years). Even more surprisingly, the 74-year-old Barkley was considered an early favorite for the 1952 Democratic nomination, until his distant cousin Adlai Stevenson came to the fore.

Where was I? Oh yes, Donald Trump is crazy, demented, and probably had a few pesky mini-strokes a few months ago. Otherwise everything is fine.

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