Saturday, August 11, 2012

Panic, Again

You have a middle-aged (or slightly older) white male (that, of course) whom the polls show is running well behind a centrist, charismatic Democratic incumbent in the presidential race. The Republican nominee, himself lacking charisma, hails from the somewhat more moderate wing of the party and is urged by the far right to select a running mate associated with conservative policies, especially lowering taxes on the wealthy.  

The right gets its candidate- and he's younger, more charismatic, a policy wonk, and a white male (that, of course), who is routinely lauded by the mainstream media for his alleged boldness.    He is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing a somewhat competitive district in a state virtually certain to go Democratic in the fall.

That presidential nominee was Bob Dole, the year was 1996, and the vice-presidential selection was Jack Kemp, now deceased.  On Friday, Steve Kornacki of Salon drew the parallel with the race run, and lost, by the longtime Kansan senator. Though he conceded that Dole probably would have lost, anyway, Kornacki noted Dole's credibility was undermined and Democrats given an "easy weapon"  because of "Dole's embrace of the right's economic vision."

Perhaps Bill Clinton would have been re-elected.   But we don't know that.   Nor do we know that John McCain would have been elected had he not overreacted and reached for a "game-changer" and chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate.

But Sarah Palin demonstrably did cost McCain votes.   Additionally, in a year when the GOP nominee could have endlessly exploited his military career running against a candidate somewhat unknown to the American people (many of whom doubted his religion or country of birth), the Arizona senator selected a relatively inexperienced governor from somewhere outside the continental United States.    He destroyed his shot at running as "the American president Americans have been waiting for," practically negated his "America First" theme, and opted to present the duo as a ticket of "mavericks."    Real change, McCain argued, would come from his election rather than that of Barack Obama, a guy vying to become the first black President in the history of the United States of America.

Now, as with John McCain, Bob Dole, and Walter Mondale (who chose the disastrous Geraldine Ferraro, also a member of the U.S. House), Mitt Romney has decided to throw the Hail Mary pass (a time-worn cliche, but darn good).    He tore July off his calendar- and up popped October.


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