National Journal columnist Chuck Todd suggests that the current Democratic Presidential slate resembles the field from 1972. John Kerry is the “seasoned front-runner” (like Maine Senator Ed Muskie); Gephardt is the labor favorite (like Hubert Humphrey); Dean the darling of the anti-war Left (like McGovern); Lieberman is the lone hawk (like Washington Senator Henry Jackson); Mosley-Braun is the purely symbolic female black candidate (like Shirley Chisholm). But the best parallel is Al Charlatan and George Wallace. Todd delicately writes that “No one thought Wallace could win the Democratic nomination, but everyone in the field believed he would be a key factor in certain primary states.” I would put the comparison a little more directly: Like Wallace, Sharpton is an excellent orator and race-baiting demagogue who–despite claiming to fight for the little guy–appeals to the most paranoid and racist instincts of poorly-educated Democratic primary voters, especially in the South and Northeast.
The National Journal forgot to come up with a modern parallel for Sam Yorty–the Democratic Mayor of Los Angeles, whose Presidential campaign attracted no visible support (except for an endorsement from the Manchester Union-Leader). I predict that Dennis Kucinich has everything it takes to be the Sam Yorty of 2004.