Stop me if you've heard this one: Fed up with the complacency of the Democratic Party, a respected but quite liberal old hand seeks the presidential nod. His surprising frankness and his palpable disgust with the current administration, which is prosecuting a controversial war, attracts an enormous crowd of young, idealistic, enthusiastic, and—let's face it—angry supporters. The media excitement, the policy missteps of the incumbent president, and the overall mood of the country all indicate that he's got a real shot at the Oval Office. Then, a gorgeous preppie senator from the Northeast steps in and mops up, leading to. …
And there the analogy between Howard Dean and Eugene McCarthy—and between John Kerry and Robert Kennedy—breaks down, because a certain Palestinian activist cut short RFK's bid for the presidency. Instead, voters had to choose from Tricky Dick, last-ditch segregationist George Wallace, and McCarthy's longtime-ally-cum-bitter-enemy, fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey.
Eight years of Democrat rule ended with Eisenhower's once-spurned vice president squeaking out a plurality (43.2 percent to Humphrey's 42.6). Four years on, Nixon received over 60 percent of the popular vote—a 49-state rout. Since then, only major scandals, very bad luck, or both have loosened the Republicans' death grip on the executive branch, and the Democratic occupants have often acted as if they were only renting.
Carter seemed to get lost in his own malaise but finally opted for austerity in spending, deregulation, and an anti-inflationary monetary policy, thus helping to clean up Nixon's free-spending, money-printing mess. And after he suffered the crushing midterm disaster of '94, Bill Clinton turned out to be a remarkably conservative ...1
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