January 8, 2008


Same Old Story: History repeats itself in the Democrats' narrative. (Mark Stricherz, 1/08/08, National Review)

After the midwestern Democrat won the Iowa caucus, liberals were aglow. Turnout at the Democratic party’s caucus had shattered the previous mark, almost doubling the totals four years earlier; better still, more Democrats had caucused than Republicans. While it was unclear whether the winner of the Iowa caucus would earn the party’s nomination, it was clear that a Democrat would capture the White House. After all, Democrats had taken back control of Congress in the midterms; and Republicans couldn’t possibly hold the presidency for three straight elections, a feat not achieved since the Democrats, with The Champ at the top of the ticket, did it in 1940. Truly, a new era — a new Democratic era! — had arrived.

The year was not 2008, but rather 1988. We know what happened in November of that year: the Democratic party’s presidential nominee lost. And liberals were left to recriminate and ponder over what had gone wrong, not only in this presidential election but in four of the previous six elections.

Of course, the political situation in 2008 differs from that of 1988. Senator Barack Obama is a more likable, impressive, and even moderate candidate than Representative Richard Gephardt, the victor of the 1988 Iowa caucus (let alone the eventual Democratic nominee that year, Governor Michael Dukakis). And the Republican Party is weaker today than in 1988; the GOP of 1988 was not dragged down by an unpopular war, had not angered the party’s fiscal conservatives, and did not need to fret over the health care issue.

Spoken like someone who was too young to be paying attention to politics in '88. Ronald Reagan was nearly impeached for his unpopular war; the Right turned on him for his deficit spending, which doubled the national debt as a percentage of GDP; and in the '86 midterm the GOP had sunk to 45 seats in the Senate and an 81 seat deficit in the House.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2008 8:26 AM

The problem for the Dems in '88 was that the country just wasn't ready to elect a Greek man president.

Posted by: b at January 8, 2008 12:50 PM

Bush 1 was no prize. We are lucky Clinton won in 1992 (giving us 1994).

First, capitulating on taxes, and 2, inducing the Shia and Kurds to revolt, and then leaving them to be slaughtered at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

He's a war criminal. Had he had 1/10th of his son's convictions, Iraq could have been liberated in 1991.

But then what does one expect from an East Coast Patrician?

Posted by: Bruno at January 8, 2008 2:24 PM