TITLE

Light Touch

AUTHOR(S)
Tanenhaus, Sam
PUB. DATE
February 2003
SOURCE
New Republic;2/17/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 6, p18
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
One of the more curious political spectacles in recent weeks has been the parade of United States Democratic senators--John Edwards, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman--who have declared their intentions to seek the presidency in 2004. Since 1900, only two men have leapt directly from the Senate to the White House: former Presidents Warren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. Since Kennedy's victory, only three senators have even captured their party's nomination, and each did so in years when defeat in the general election was virtually preordained: Barry Goldwater in 1964, George McGovern in 1972, and Bob Dole in 1996. Yet today's contenders seem confident they can do better. The old Senate, for all its glories, was a notoriously bad place to build a presidential resume. But the familiar equation, strong senator equals weak candidate, may no longer apply because the idea of a strong senator has almost disappeared from politics. This may explain why the model for senators aiming for the presidency has become Kennedy, whose own campaign, written off as an anomaly all these years, looks much more relevant in 2003. This is the model Edwards, Kerry, and Lieberman all appear to be following, each in his own fashion. If Edwards represents the latest edition of a Kennedy-style Senate candidate, John Kerry is a Kennedy redux, with his Massachusetts base, aristocratic lineage, family fortune, and liberal record tempered by wartime heroics in Vietnam. Lieberman's Kennedy riff isn't quite as clean as Kerry's. Indeed, the most important lesson Kennedy offers today's Senate presidential contenders is his strategic decision to attack the Republicans not from the left but from the right.
ACCESSION #
9062031

 

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