Opinion: John McCain and Barack Obama help celebrate a Democratic loser


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Every year hundreds of rich people and politicians of both parties from the past, present and possibly the future assemble in New York City to help keep the grand Waldorf Astoria hotel in business.

And to raise more money in one night than any of us will ever see for underprivileged children.


And also to celebrate New York’s Alfred E. Smith, a four-time Democratic New York governor who was the first Roman Catholic to lose a presidential run atop a major party ticket. Also the first Catholic to head a major party ticket, back in 1928.

Smith was beaten by Herbert Hoover, who thereby won the right to preside over the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression by raising taxes and endorsing protectionism.

That’s the era Joe Biden remembers President Franklin Delano Roosevelt going on national television and guiding the nation through tough economic times. Roosevelt actually succeeded Smith as New York governor and then succeeded Hoover in the White House.

Biden, by the way, is the only Catholic on the Republican or Democratic tickets this year. But he wasn’t there tonight. He was on television himself with Jay Leno.

Anyway, New York City’s Alfred E. Smith Dinner is required attendance for big-time politicians, especially in presidential election years when candidates love to be seen with cardinals.

So John McCain, who has cited Hoover’s economic policies as precisely the wrong way to go these days, and Barack Obama, who was only 8 years old when William Ayers did his Weather Underground bombing, were both there tonight.

As part of the allegedly nonpartisan evening, Alfred Smith IV got up and shared some one-liners that The Ticket passes on to lighten the political load of these next few weeks:

‘My great-grandfather, who blazed a trail as the first Catholic to run for president, would have loved this election. No matter who wins, history will be made, as he made history.


‘If Sen. Obama wins, it will be the first time — we have a vice president from Delaware....

‘And if Sen. McCain wins, the history-making would involve a woman: the first president to have a 96-year-old mother.’

— Andrew Malcolm

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