It's probably tasteless to bring up the matter of electoral politics a mere six weeks after an election - and right in the middle of the holiday season to boot. But an eerie silence has arrested our attention.
Where are the politicians with presidential ambitions? Eight years ago today, the poor people of Iowa and New Hampshire were beset by no less than half a dozen ambitious Democratic politicians, who crisscrossed their states from farmhouse to church to town hall, kissing babies, giving speeches and otherwise terrorizing the populace.So far this year, they've gone unmolested. But why? President Bush no longer appears to be the invincible political leader he seemed even six months ago. The gulf crisis - to speak in the most trivial terms - could be a political disaster. The economy wobbles.
Left over from 1988 are three Capitol Hill pros - Sens. Gore of Tennessee and Bentsen of Texas, and House Majority Leader Gephardt - none of whom has dared suit up. Sen. Bradley, another hopeful, was hurt by a weak re-election showing.
Gov. Cuomo is busy wrestling with his state's fiscal mismanagement - a heroic struggle he could exploit politically, except he's the one who did the mismanaging. Two almost-conservatives, Gov. Wilder and Sen. Nunn, are also making presidential noises, but so far lack campaign organizations.
Thus, in the words of one prominent Democrat, "There aren't any contenders, period." Well, maybe one. The other day, former Sen. George McGovern all but announced he'd seek the presidential nomination in 1992, the 20th anniversary of his historic landslide loss. Democrats should not be reassured.