Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review March 30, 2001 / 6 Nissan, 5761

Dale McFeatters

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Democrats hope for lightning -- THE U.S. Senate has 100 members and it's a sure bet that each one of them has thought lightning could -- and, if there were any justice, should -- strike and make this particular senator president.

Alas, presidential lightning has not been kind to the Senate since 1960, when two senators, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, were elected president and vice president. Of the seven presidents since Johnson, four, including the incumbent, were governors or ex-governors. Richard Nixon was an ex-senator, but 16 years gone from that office. Gerald Ford was a House member, and George Bush senior a kind of itinerant public servant.

What does tend to strike is vice-presidential lightning. The resulting wreckage has not been pretty.

Sen. Hubert Humphrey was Johnson's vice president but lost his own race for the presidency in 1968.

In 1972, Sen. Thomas Eagleton was forced to step down as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate after disclosures of a history of mental illness.

Sen. Bob Dole has the distinction of being both a losing vice-presidential and presidential candidate, under Ford in 1976 and then on his own in 1996.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was the running mate on the 1988 ticket that lost to Bush and Sen. Dan Quayle, but that administration lasted only one term, defeated by Bill Clinton and Sen. Al Gore. Gore, true to form, went on to lose on his own.

Has that dissuaded the present members of the Senate? Hardly. At least 10 of them, all Democrats, are considered potential candidates, and if President Bush stumbles badly you could probably make that 11 with the addition of GOP Sen. John McCain.

The most prominent -- but not the best known -- is Sen. Joe Lieberman, who, true to the senatorial fates, was Gore's losing running mate. Lieberman had the good fortune to be able to simultaneously run for re-election in Connecticut, so he is still in the Senate and actively hoping lightning will strike.

Lieberman is why American politics are so fascinating. Political junkies had always assumed that the first devoutly religious candidate who made an open show of his faith would be a Christian fundamentalist; instead, it was a liberal Orthodox Jew. He has the true politician's skill of not seeming to be a politician.

Backers of a 2004 Lieberman candidacy have been meeting informally --- and disingenuously. It's too early to begin planning a presidential campaign, said one, leaving a meeting where they already had.

The best-known of the possible Democrats is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, if anything, has a little too much name recognition. Her upstart, upset victory in New York made her an automatic 2004 presidential possibility, but after the White House silver scandal, she may have to get re-election behind her and think about 2008.

None of the Democrats want to hurt Gore's feelings. He lost a heartbreaking race last year by a one-justice margin, and is the presumptive front-runner for the party's 2004 nomination, if only because no one else wants to be this early in the cycle. It makes you a target for all the other challengers.

If Gore ventures out to New Hampshire and Iowa, he could be trampled by any or all of his fellow Democrats and erstwhile Senate colleagues: In addition to Lieberman and Clinton, Evan Bayh, Ind.; Joseph Biden, Del.; Tom Daschle, S.D.; Chris Dodd, Conn.; Richard Durbin, Ill., John Edwards, N.C.; Russ Feingold, Wis.; and John Kerry, Mass.

With the possible exception of Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader, and Feingold, co-sponsor of campaign reform, and maybe not even them, the general public probably could not pick them out of a police lineup.

But that could change. Lightning could always strike.

Comment on Dale McFeatters' column by clicking here.


03/28/01: The fiscal fortune tellers
03/23/01: Bush's free lunch, or: Why Dubya worries about Japan's economy
03/21/01: Congress' growing nuisance
03/16/01: A new kind of layoff for the New Economy
03/09/01: Another snow job in the nation's capital
03/02/01: Bush either brave or naive
02/23/01: Long hours=great presidency? What our 'dim-bulb' of a president knows
02/16/01: Just what the spin-doctor ordered? Bush can't even get ridiculed on TV
02/09/01: A heartbeat from presidency, and both feet in obscurity
02/02/01: AlGore is continuing his fall from grace
01/26/01: "Fifteen Minutes in December"

© 2001, SHNS