To the Editor:
You miss the big factor that makes ’08 so different from ’68: the dimwitted, thoroughly embarrassing George Bush, his worst ever administration, and countless scandals, which I predict become the top political story for this election year. Even Democrats, so prone to screw up a winning opportunity, won’t be able to blow this one.
And the players are quite different, oddly enough softer on both sides than in ’68. Another difference between then and now is the GOP has no candidate as diabolically well positioned as was Dick Nixon: even John McCain, the strongest Republican nominee in my view, won’t get full evangelical support, is distrusted by the rightwing military-corporate triumphalists speaking through Dick Cheney, and will suffer because the GOP coalition is in serious disarray.
Just yesterday, I saw backing off from race (and gender, by implication) by both Clinton and Obama forces and there isn’t anything close to “us vs. them” dichotomy of ’68. To wit, I have no brief for Hillary Clinton but she’s no clone of an incumbent president (as Humphrey was to Johnson) and her most recent Iraqi war withdrawal plans don’t radically differ from Obama. So, there’s aren’t the players, the intraparty divisiveness, or the policy schisms on the Dem side. I could vote for Clinton but not for Humphrey the Vietnam defender.
In a way, what most parallels the Democratic implosion of the ’60s is the GOP disunity today and you underplay this important reversal — oh yeah, did I mention, having George Dubya the Decider as president for the rest of the year? As with others, I could live with an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket as way to fully heal whatever rancor over race is happening.
Furthermore, this is less a breakthrough election looking forward, promising significant transformation of either major party, hardly a radical “progressive” vision, than one about symbolicism, even healing, and a return to conventional presidential management — a majority admission that Bush was a disaster and any Democrat deserves to rule and will do so much better.
Of course, if your exaggerated but hardly irrational fears are justified, and the Democrats self-destruct so badly they lose a White House they should win, that simply proves they’re kaput — likely accelerating alternatives, one of which may justify the term “progressive.” My fear is that Ms. Clinton wins, moves center, and starts talking about her religious beliefs to justify aggressive foreign policy. Now that’s a nightmare devoutly not to be wished for then you’d have be a Talmudic scholar to distinguish the two parties, at last overseas.
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