By Brian E. Crowley
Some years ago, a New York Times photographer was at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee to cover an event. As he was walking through the building he noticed a portrait hanging in the back of the coat closet. It was a portrait of a man who was once a leader of the Democratic Party. He was the nominee for president twice. He was a former governor of Illinois from a prominent political family.
Adlai Stevenson II.
Odds are that few of the folks working at the DNC remembered Stevenson.
Here is a description of him from Wikipedia:
Noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who served as one of his speechwriters, described Stevenson as a "great creative figure in American politics. He turned the Democratic Party around in the fifties and made JFK possible...to the United States and the world he was the voice of a reasonable, civilized, and elevated America. He brought a new generation into politics, and moved millions of people in the United States and around the world." Journalist David Halberstam wrote that "Stevenson's gift to the nation was his language, elegant and well-crafted, thoughtful and calming." His biographer Jean H. Baker stated that Stevenson's memory "still survives...as an expression of a different kind of politics - nobler, more issue-oriented, less compliant to the greedy ambitions of modern politicians, and less driven by public opinion polls and the media."
Stevenson was the party's presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956. He lost both times to Republican Dwight Eisenhower. He later was our United Nations Ambassador.
So how did this prominent member of the Democrat Party wind up in the coat closet at DNC headquarters?