Plea of the Democratic Pariah: Forgive My Defeat
As a general rule, it can be an unpleasant career move for a Democrat to run for president, streak to primary victories, win his party's nomination and, ultimately, fall short. For his troubles, he will automatically be consigned by large sectors of his party to a distinctive Democratic pariah status — his campaign ridiculed, second-guessed and I-told-you-so'd endlessly by insiders and operatives who bemoan how "winnable" his election was and "unlikable" his personality is.
This contrasts with Republicans, who have admittedly had fewer runners-up in recent decades but who nonetheless accord them a more respectful, eminent status. Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, but has retained an elder statesman's role within the party. Barry Goldwater lost 44 states to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 yet remains a conservative icon. Richard M. Nixon lost narrowly in 1960 and went on to be elected president in 1968.
"Maybe the Republicans know something that we don't," Senator John Kerry said, referring to Mr. Nixon's comeback win during an appearance earlier this year on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."
Proponents of a Gore comeback are quick to stake their own claim, oddly enough, to the precedent of Mr. Nixon. They catalog the parallels between the two men's electoral histories. As with Mr. Nixon 40 years earlier, Mr. Gore was a sitting vice president who lost in one of the closest races ever. He left the national stage and made an ill-fated reappearance (Mr. Nixon to lose the California governor's race in 1962, Mr. Gore to endorse Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, which tanked). Mr. Nixon eventually triumphed, eight years after his bitter defeat, at the expense of an incumbent party hampered by an unpopular war.
comments powered by Disqus
Vernon Clayson - 5/24/2006
algore makes me drowzy whether he is speaking or if someone is writing about him.
He is as finished as Barbaro, put him away.
Ross Kiser - 5/24/2006
Reknowned pollster Charlie Cook said about John Kerry and Al Gore in a May 7 Washington Post article:
"John Kerry : Trying to correct some negatives from 2004, such as sharpening his stance on Iraq. But despite his close 2004 finish, the attitude in the party is: "Been there, done that, got the T-shirt."
Al Gore : See "John Kerry." Appetite for an anti-Iraq-war candidate could draw him into the race, but not likely.
My observation: Since 2000, Gore has moved away from the center and to the left, as shown by his endorsement of Dean and his opposition to the war in Iraq. This will hurt his chances of another run in 2008. Liberals, like Gore, always reveal their true stripes when they're not in power.
- Five Things You Need to Know to be a Better Digital Preservationist
- Book on Losing British Generals Wins American History Prize
- Stanford scholar explores civil rights revolution's positive impact on the South's economy
- Harvard Historian Nancy Koehn on Amazon's Tentacular Reach
- Q&A with historian and author Nick Turse