November 21, 2016

QUESTION ASKED: Why Can’t Democrats Win Three Consecutive Terms?

Before Gore and Clinton, blame for failing to piece together winning streaks landed squarely on the incumbent Democratic presidents. The 1920 nominee, James Cox, had no shot after Woodrow Wilson waged the unsuccessful fight to join the League of Nations, while neglecting the turbulent transition to a post-war economy. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey had the thankless task of trying to unite a party shattered by Lyndon Johnson’s war in Vietnam.

The Gore and Clinton autopsies are more complicated. They were felled by similar weaknesses. Both were ensnared in arguably small-bore ethical scrapes that became overheated in the campaign crucible. And both suffered late hits from external forces. Gore was ultimately defeated by the Supreme Court. Clinton had to fend off Russia, WikiLeaks and the FBI.

But most importantly, both were technocrats who sought to sell their policy smarts rather than try to make an emotional connection to the electorate, while being juxtaposed with incumbents who made connecting look effortless. Without that connection, attacks on character and integrity are much harder to overcome.

You had to figure Bill Scher’s answer would have something to do with an emotional and gullible electorate being duped by tricksy Republicans.

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