Garry Wills’ fairly brutal assessment of Mitt Romney’s future, where he tries, and fails, to find recent campaign loser with as little to offer as Romney, got me thinking about a historical figure marginal enough to compare with Romney. The guy in this (great) photo, Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt’s opponent in 1940, is one possibility. He was a corporate lawyer who hadn’t run for office until he faced Roosevelt in 1940. However, unlike what I expect Romney to do, he joined forces with FDR to promote internationalism and wrote a book about the “one world” movement. Since he died in 1944, at age 52, we don’t know exactly what he would have done had he lived a full life.
Probably a better candidate is poor old Tom Dewey, the governor of a Northeastern state who also thought he was going to win on one of the nights he ran for President. After losing to FDR in ’44 and, more famously, to Truman in 48, Dewey pretty much stayed on the sidelines, turning down a nomination from LBJ for the Supreme Court, and concentrating on making money as a corporate lawyer. I imagine Mitt will follow a similar path.