Why It Was So Sour

After 18 months of trivial sound bites and empty photo ops, the voters can finally say to the 1988 campaign: good riddance!

"It is better to be defeated battling for an honest principle than to win by a cowardly subterfuge."

Those words were President Grover Cleveland's coda after he narrowly lost the 1888 election to Benjamin Harrison on the issue of tariff reform. A century later, it is dismaying to contemplate the nation's march of progress toward the perfection of its democratic institutions. Imagine George Bush or Michael Dukakis having the temerity to claim that his campaign was waged on the battlefield of "honest principle." Or better yet, picture either candidate rising above "cowardly subterfuge."

Such is the sour legacy of 1988, an...

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