Political elders have lambasted their party’s leading presidential contenders throughout U.S. history. The big difference now is that this battle is playing out in public. In the past, attacks were largely in party backrooms, behind closed doors. To be sure, some serious breaks have been acted out in public. With dire results. President Theodore Roosevelt, for example, realized in 1912 that his progressive agenda was being abandoned by his chosen successor, William Howard Taft.