Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Vacant Oval Office After '08?

After years of Bush-Cheney turmoil, voters may want a President who won’t make waves--or no President at all, if that were possible.

Something like that happened after Nixon’s near-impeachment and resignation in the 1970s. Spiro Agnew, a Cheney-like Vice President with a history of bribe-taking, had been forced out of office earlier, leaving Gerald Ford to become the nation’s first accidental Chief Executive. Aside from pardoning Nixon, he was totally uncontroversial.

After Ford, voters chose Jimmy Carter, a nearly invisible figure who did little damage and kept the seat warm until Ronald Reagan came along. The morning-after period gave way to Morning in America.

After the heartburn of the Bush years, if voters are looking for a Pepto-Bismol President to soothe the pain, beyond the two front runners in each party, there are plenty of candidates to fill that prescription--Mitt Romney, John Edwards, Fred Thompson and down the nondescript list.

As the endless campaign grinds on, will Clinton, Giuliani, Obama and McCain have to keep blurring themselves to stay ahead, or will one or more of them capture the exhausted American imagination and give us an alternative to going from a bunkered Oval Office to an empty one?

So far Obama seems most likely to do that, but time is taking a toll as shown in his gaffe the other day about the number of Kansas tornado victims. “There are going to be times when I get tired,” he explained. “There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes.”

So are we all. We can’t afford to make another big one next November.

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