One of the big tests for the Republicans as the presidential race moves into high gear will be whether they can draw out into an open contest the candidate I like to call William Jennings Obama. His name is a contraction (of my own concocting) of Barack Obama and another Demosthenes of the Democrats, William Jennings Bryan. Known as the Great Commoner, Bryan won the party's nomination for president in 1896 with a speech saying he would not be crucified on a cross of gold.
Bryan stood for president on a platform calling for an inflationary program centered on the free coinage of silver. He was defeated by William McKinley, who accepted the Republican nomination with the declaration, "Good money never made times hard." Campaigning from his front porch, McKinley made it clear that he understood the money issue down to the ground. Toward the end of his first term, he signed the Gold Standard Act of 1900. It sustained a span of growth that, with some reversals, lasted until the Great Depression.