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Obama’s nomination is part of a pattern of Democrats preferring “fresh new faces” as their presidential candidates. McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Dukakis and Bill Clinton all won the nomination on their first attempts.
By contrast, Republicans have tended toward the “it’s his turn” approach to their White House candidates. Excluding only vice president Richard Nixon’s 1960 campaign and the historical anomaly of Gerald Ford, George W. Bush was the first GOP presidential candidate since Dwight Eisenhower to get the Republican nomination on his first try.
Strong opposition from conservatives was not enough to stop Sen. John McCain from becoming the GOP’s latest “it’s his turn” candidate — worrying many Republicans who see similarities to Sen. Bob Dole’s weak 1996 campaign.
In addition to his shaky standing with conservatives (Tom DeLay’s wife recently declared she’ll vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr), McCain has other obvious weaknesses. He’s 71 years old, short and bald, and seems a poor match for Obama’s charismatic personal presence.
However, the “it’s his turn” approach means that McCain is already a familiar character to independent swing voters, who typically pay less attention to politics than do avid partisans of either party. Such scandals as his membership in the “Keating Five” are all old news, and it’s unlikely the fall campaign will produce any shocking revelations about the Republican. Democrats can’t say the same about the untested Obama.
Beyond McCain’s shortcomings as a candidate, however, Democrats are encouraged by numerous harbingers of an anti-Republican trend in November. The GOP trails in fundraising, the economy is stagnant, gas is now over $4 a gallon, more than 100,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq, and the potentially poisonous “wrong direction” poll numbers are disastrously high.
YET THESE ILL omens for Republicans may have inspired in Democrats an overconfidence that made Obama’s weaknesses too easy to overlook — again, repeating the pattern of their previous disasters.
In August 1972, Hunter S. Thompson recalled a conversation with McGovern campaign manager Gary Hart: “One of his central beliefs for the past two years had been that winning the Democratic nomination would be much harder than beating Nixon…. So any Democratic candidate could beat Nixon, and all the candidates knew it.”
The Democrats’ confidence in Obama may yet be vindicated. If not, on Nov. 5, they’ll have a new exhibit when they finally decide to break ground on their campaign blunder Hall of Fame.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online