When you think of political miscalculations, in general, what happens is, you bet on a tactic and lose an election.
Or you bet on support from an ally and that support’s failure to materialize causes you to fail to implement a promise you made to your constituents.
Yeah. Poor, Poor politicians.
I shall now pat you firmly on the head and show you how to politically miscalculate in such a colossal manner, the catastrophic results are such that you will NEVER recover.
And so it is, we examine the inaugural speech from hell, that of William Henry Harrison, circa 1841.
At 63 years, 23 days, Harrison was the oldest president-elect to take office and would hold that title for 140 years, until Ronald Reagan beat him out in 1981.
Of course, his political opponents made much of his age, and so to prove his vigor, Harrison rode to his inauguration on a train, and on that chilly 48°F morning, chose not to wear an overcoat, hat, or gloves.
He then proceeded to give the longest inaugural speech yet delivered, 8,445 words. He spoke for nearly 2 hours.
So why was this such a political miscalculation? Why would we call this a greater miscalculation than the many other blunders we have as examples?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you DEATH!!!
Harrison developed a cold 20 days later, developed pneumonia, and died on April 4th, 1841, just 31 days into his term.
OK, OK!!!! Yes. At the time, the general wisdom was that Harrison’s speech had killed him.
Modern Medicine tells us that you don’t actually catch colds from being out in the cold.
BUT NEVER LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD YARN!!!!!!