Friday, December 14, 2007

1972 All Over Again?

Could Hillary Clinton be the Ed Muskie of the 2008 presidential campaign?

Muskie’s nomination in 1972 was thought to be a done deal. He had the smartest and most prestigious staff organization, as well as scores of endorsements from important Democrats. Turned out he was a paper tiger. Muskie collapsed in New Hampshire when he cried on a flatbed truck in front of the Manchester Union-Leader, which had attacked Mrs. Muskie for drinking too much.

Well before that episode, Muskie’s fuzzy message, lackluster campaigning, and refusal to take clear positions had doomed his effort below the surface. George McGovern nearly beat Muskie in New Hampshire that year and of course went on to win the nomination. Muskie’s people thought he had a firewall in Florida and Illinois to stop the hemorrhaging begun in New Hampshire. It was not to be. Muskie was completely unhorsed.

Might history be repeating itself?