Democrats: Chairman of the Board

He was short and bushy-browed and looked like a roguish Kewpie doll. Franklin Roosevelt called him "Mr. Common Sense." John L. Lewis tagged him a "poker-playing, whisky-drinking, labor-baiting, evil old man." To most Americans he was best known as "Cactus Jack."

Out of the arid—and cactiferous—wastes of southern Texas, where even today the cowboys say you can see farther, and see less, than anywhere else on earth, John Nance Garner carved a hefty fiefdom along the Rio Grande and parlayed his brand of conservative populism (with due regard for the interests of cattle,...

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