A lot of local bloggers wasted your time in the last few weeks with small potatoes, making predictions about who would win in city primary races. I am now ready to wow you with the big one -- the presidential race in 2008: It will be between -- are you ready? -- Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman.
You might remember that in the first GOP presidential debate, Reagan was invoked more than God:
The clear winner was Ronald Reagan, bless his optimistic heart. And those eyes! When evildoers looked into Reagan's eyes, they handed over all their hostages and their spare change.
Or something like that, according to Rudy Giuliani, who did not rise to his poll numbers tonight. In fact, he lost the debate, beginning with the first question when he seemed nervous and disorganized. At no time did he manage to convey the strength and confidence of America's mayor.
And now, Newsweek, ever eager to carry Democrats' water, has a cover story on "The Truman Primary" and the desperate search for political courage:
Buffeted by war, unhappy with President Bush, many Americans—Democratic, Republican, independent—seem hungry for a Trumanesque figure, a truth-telling, bare-knuckled president who will give it to us straight. The question now is whether anybody in the 2008 field can measure up.
Americans say they want to see courage from their politicians. As the historian Michael Beschloss illustrates in his new book, "Presidential Courage," the greatest presidents were willing to risk their political careers to do the right thing for the country.
Presidents "willing to risk their political careers to do the right thing for their country" -- remind you of anyone? A commander in chief in the time of an increasingly unpopular war, harangued by members of his own party worried that their own chances for re-election might be hurt -- remind you of anyone? I'm not suggesting that history will rehabilitate George Bush the way it has Harry Truman, but the jury is still out, is it not? Bush's place in history will be determined by how his response to the war with terrorism, starting with 9/11 and going to a point we can't see yet, rearranges the world for the better or the worse. Most people, I think, would agree that he appropriately expressed our outrage over the attacks on us, and that he took the right action in going on offense. He is faulted either for taking the offense too far, by going to Iraq instead of stopping with Afghanistan, or for mismanaging the war in Iraq. Republicans who think the struggle with extremist Islamists is real and ongoing might think of Truman occasionally as they run away from Bush to embrace Reagan. History does not judge today's actions by today's passions.
And if we're reaching into the past for our iconic contest, I'd just as soon go for the real thing and see a debate between Hamilton and Jefferson. But if there aren't even any Reagans or Trumans these days, that is truly a foolish wish.