The Loyal Opposition

Today's Republican Party demonizes any criticism of President Bush on the grounds that it will "undermine the war effort," and journalists like Tom Gutting are learning the hard way that they can be fired if they question the president's leadership. Yet one of the GOP's most influential forebears, presidential nominee Thomas Dewey, openly criticized Franklin Roosevelt at the peak of the war against fascism. "He accused FDR of being responsible for the death of American soldiers because Roosevelt had not adequately prepared the country for the war, and he maintained that if FDR was reelected, America would be at risk of a communist takeover," writes David Corn. "Moreover, Dewey assailed Democrats who argued the debate over the communist threat should be suppressed because it undermined the war effort. (The United States and the Soviet Union were allies at the time.) ... By questioning the United States-Soviet alliance and FDR's commitment to freedom and liberty while war was raging and the final outcome uncertain, did Dewey and the Republican Party undermine FDR's management of the war? Republicans at the time were spreading gossip that FDR had sent a Navy destroyer to fetch Fala, his Scottish terrier, after the dog supposedly was left behind during a trip to Alaska. Was this attempt to weaken the national standing of a wartime president an action that could have hindered the war?"