Democrats were left to front Hubert Humphrey, the happy-faced, fast-talking vice president. Republicans backed Richard Nixon, a paranoid scowler who'd already blown one bid for the White House. Everyone else got George Wallace, a racist still unaware of the bullet and wheelchair in his future.
We flash forward to four decades later and the circle is closed. The best candidates -- at least on the Democratic bench -- are back to flipping impeachment burgers (Dennis Kucinich) and minding the Senate store (Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton). The Republicans overlooked an optimist and a Mormon.
Who would have bet six months ago that John McCain might beat Barack Obama? Bill Clinton:
"[H]e has some redeeming qualities for a Republican: he doesn't believe in toture, he supported campaign finance reform and he doesn't think global warming is a myth ... So it is not gonna be all that easy to beat him."
Obama should be 10, maybe 12 points ahead of McCain at this point, getting ready to vet the cabinet. Bill Clinton was beating Bob Dole like Balboa beats beef slabs in August 1996. Because Clinton knew it's all about the lowest common denominator. Save the oration for the inauguration.
We said last January that McCain was off-his-rocker crazy -- a clinical term, not tossed around lightly -- and thus unqualified to be President of the United States. He's still all that, but turns out he's fox crazy, too, cunning and willing to use the WASP knife in battle. Hence the priggish Sarah Palin, a meaty bone to the GOP base that can't stand McCain (McPain is one of the nicer nicknames the far right uses).
McCain knows he's using his base to win. He knows he's using Palin, even if he believes she's unqualified. He's already on record belittling wanna-bes:
"I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time."
"Republicans are now on offense and Democrats are on defense. And we don't do well on defense."
Democrats don't get it. John McCain wants to win. They want to whine.