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That 1968 Vibe



On a SLATE comment thread, I recently wrote as follows:

Is it just me, or does all this have a very 1968 vibe for anyone else? Here as there, the incumbent President is a Democrat. In '68, of course, LBJ was eligible to run again, but was knocked out early. Let's ignore that difference for a moment and see what else lines up.
There are two Democrats each with a plausible claim to continue the incumbent administration, for those who WANT to see it continued. There is a former cabinet member (Attorney General or Secretary of State, as the case may be) on the one side, and the sitting Vice President on the other. The establishment of the Dems could live with either of them.  There is also a very non-establishment figure coming off from the flanks, with a surprisingly strong following in the base, call him Eugene or Bernie as you please. All very '68.
The signature domestic accomplishment of the incumbent is in the area of health care reform, Medicare/Medicaid. Overseas, of course, there is an endless tunnel of violence and escalation.  
Oh, did I mention that the former cabinet member/candidate has a famous family name, reminding voters not of the incumbent but of the Democratic President before that?  All very '68. Of course I wish Secretary Clinton a long happy life, so there are some respects in which I very much don't want this analogy to hold. 
The point though is, Humphrey/Biden emerged from that nominating process triumphant but weakened, and it all helped bring about the Presidency of Richard Nixon.

A fellow calling himself Guinnessmonkey replied:

What?  Where, exactly, are American soldiers currently dying by the thousands, 'cause I must have missed that.
Though yes, Bernie = Eugene.  That wing of the Democratic Party runs one every few years, particularly after the Dems have held the White House for two terms.  It makes them forget what it's like to have a GOP president (often because they're too young to remember), so they start talking in terms of ideological purity instead of electability.

To which I in turn wrote:

hat the overseas violence hasn't played itself out the way it did in the '60s doesn't really hurt the analogy. The more antiseptic killing through drones is sufficient to fuel the sort of resentment Bernie/Eugene can tap. 
Another key point: if Biden does get into the race, Hilary will surely move to the left. She's now positioned as a centrist, like her old "triangulating" husband. Or, for that matter, like Robert Kennedy, whose signature accomplishment as AG had been to put a prominent labor leader in prison. A bit of triangulation before the word, there. 
Anyway, IF Biden gets in, expect him to lock up the centrist support, and Hillary to move left to co-opt Bernie's support. Which was Kennedy's play-book in '68.  Her belated discovery that Keystone might be a bad idea is an example, but so far just a small step. 

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I just wanted to share.

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