So, I talk to more and more people, and they see Barack Obama as an unstoppable juggernaut. All the other election results confirm this result as the Republicans are suffering through an unpopular war and a bad economy. It certainly looks like it will be a shoo-in for Obama, but I have reservations.
Here’s your next quote from “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72″ by Hunter S. Thompson. Page 374-375.
But Hart has been talking like that since last Christmas: relentless optimism. There was never any doubt in his mind – at least not in any conversation with me – that McGovern was going to win the Democratic nomination, and then the presidency. One of his central beliefs for the past two years has been that winning the Democratic nomination would be much harder than beating Nixon.
He explained it to me one night in Nebraska, sitting in the bar of the Omaha Hilton on the day before the primary: Nixon was a very vulnerable incumbent, he’d failed to end the war, he’d botched the economy, he was a terrible campaigner, he would crack under pressure, nobody trusted him, etc….
So ANY Democratic candidate could beat Nixon, and all the candidates knew it. That’s why they’d been fighting like wolverines for the nomination – especially Humphrey, who was a far more effective campaigner than Nixon, and who had just inherited enough of the “regular” old-line party machinery, money, and connections from the Muskie campaign to make McGovern go into California and take on what amounted to the entire Old Guard of the Democratic Party…California was the key to both the nomination and the White House; a victory on the coast would make all the rest seem easy.
Hart and I agreed on all this, at the time. Nixon was obviously vulnerable, and he was such a rotten campaigner that, four years ago, Humphrey – even without the Youth Vote or the activist Left – had gained something like fifteen points on Nixon in seven weeks, and only lost by an eyelash. So this time around, with even a third of the 25 million potential new voters added to Hubert’s ’68 power base, anybody who could win the Democratic nomination was almost a cinch to win the presidency.
Substitute Clintocrats for old-line party machinery, and it is not far off from today. Of course, that machinery got Hillary Clinton a win in California this time, so it isn’t a perfect analogy. But, McCain doesn’t have the baggage of the incumbent either.