It sure seems like I’ve already lived through this. Twice.
I was just getting my feet wet in the world of political
commentary when the 2008 presidential election unfolded. I remember the primary
season quite vividly, not just because my home state of Indiana was still a
viable player for the close Democratic contest between Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton, but because the Republicans had a most indecisive contest themselves.
Coming off the national phenomenon of what could fairly be
called Bush-fatigue, Republicans were so underwhelmed by their potential
options they bounced from Rudy Giuliani to Mitt Romney to Mike Huckabee, stuck
their toe in the Fred Thompson pool, glanced for a moment in the forbidden
direction of Ron Paul, all before settling for the boring, old white guy, John
Truthfully, the 2012 Republican primary was quite similar,
with even a wider array of would-be nominees. Rick Perry fever quickly dissipated
in light of poor debate performances, and a procession of candidates took their
turn surging to the limelight: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich,
Ron Paul (again), a momentary tease from Donald Trump, even Rick Santorum. All
this before eventually settling for the boring, old white guy, Mitt Romney.
And like I said, as I watch this current Democratic primary
unfold here in 2019, I can’t shake the feeling of déjà vu. Go with the 2012
Bernie Sanders plays the Ron Paul role, albeit with a little
bit more of the Democratic electorate supporting his socialist candidacy than
mainstream Republicans supported Paul’s libertarian one.
Pete Buttigieg is a Herman Cain outsider candidate who has
strong personal appeal, but whose candidacy eventually unraveled due to a
scandal – fair or not. Cain was undone by accusations of affairs and
womanizing; Buttigieg is dealing with his own embarrassing attempts to court
In 2012, Newt Gingrich was smart and fiery, but was plagued
by personal scandals and had the terrible tendency to just rub people the wrong
way. Can you say Elizabeth Warren? Smart and fiery, but can’t stop telling
obvious lies about stupid things (being an Indian, not sending her kids to
private school) and she really grates on normal people’s nerves.
Kamala Harris was my original pick to win this nomination for the Democrats. Rick Perry was my original pick to win the nomination for Republicans in 2012. And just as I sat shocked at how bad Rick Perry was at campaigning for president, I’m still dumbfounded how awful Kamala proved to be herself.
Cory Booker is Michele Bachmann, a sitting lawmaker who
draws attention to themselves but severely lacks authentic charisma.
And let’s even throw in Tulsi Gabbard, a woman with credentials
but who everybody looks at and says, “You don’t belong in this group.” Does
anyone remember the candidacy of Jon Huntsman, Jr. for the Republicans in 2012?
I’m telling you, we’ve been here before. That’s very good
news for the old, white guy in the race, whom many voters see as the “safe
choice” whose time has come…former Vice President Joe Biden. Of course, before
he and his Democrat supporters get too excited about this apparent writing on
the wall, they might want to remember how things turned out for the Republicans
those years in the general election.