Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back to the Political Future

There are undeniable echoes of the 1960s in how the elections of 2008 are shaping up.

Both parties are in crises that could define them for decades to come and, although the parallels are inexact, the issues are similar: What kind of America are we living in and what do we want it to be?

For Democrats in 1968, the question was not unlike what Republicans are facing now--how to recover from presiding over a disastrous war and domestic discord and, until a bullet stopped him, Robert Kennedy was the Barack Obama then and Hubert Humphrey the Hillary Clinton, promising change vs. philosophical continuity.

Republicans had to face their directional question four years earlier when Barry Goldwater ran. Traditional conservatives feared he might wreck their party in 1964, as many of them feel about Mike Huckabee now. They tried to rally around Gov. William Scranton just as Robert Bork is now backing Mitt Romney with other National Review icons to come.

In that struggle, Dwight Eisenhower clearly favored Scranton but could not bring himself to do it publicly. Today we have the elder George Bush sending a signal by hosting Romney's speech about religion.

Lyndon Johnson left his party in shambles as George W. Bush will in 2009. If we're lucky, we won't have to live through a Richard Nixon and a Jimmy Carter before the country recovers from its ideological headaches.

For the aging, everything that happens is a reminder of something that happened before, so younger eyes may
see better alternatives now. Let's hope so.

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