With Rick Santorum dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, leaving the field to Mitt Romney, President Obama claims;
This election will probably have the biggest contrast that we’ve seen maybe since the Johnson-Goldwater election, maybe before that,
I actually laughed out loud in the car this morning when I heard that. Maybe, just maybe, if it had been Romney who dropped out, setting up an Obama-Santorum race, the statement might have just the slightest claim to plausibility. But Obama-Romney? A race between a Democrat that liberals find too conservative and a Republican that conservatives find too liberal?
I know it’s obligatory to make these kinds of claims, so this isn’t really a critique of Obama. But this claim is so laughably wrong that I just want to take a moment to note the races we’ve actually had since Johnson-Goldwater, for purposes of comparison.
1968: Humphrey-Nixon. The civil rights liberal vs. the southern strategy. A guy who only cared about domestic social issues vs. a guy who only cared about foreign affairs.
1972: Nixon-McGovern. The man who expanded the Vietnam War in Cambodia vs. the guy who wanted to end the war immediately.
1976: Ford-Carter. OK, the 2012 choice might, perhaps, be starker than that one.
1980: Carter-Reagan. Ol’ Doom and Gloom vs. Mr. Morning in America.
1984: Reagan-Mondale. A true, although not radical, conservative vs. a Minnesota liberal.
1988: G.H.W. Bush-Dukakis. A moderate New England Republican vs. a New England liberal…sounds like a lot like 2012, if you change that to Illinois Republican vs. New England liberal.
1992: G. H. W. Bush-Clinton. Eh, ok. Bookends, policywise. Worlds apart in demeanor.
1996: Clinton-Dole. Two moderates…again, sounds a lot like 2012.
2000: Gore-G.W. Bush. No, that wasn’t a stark choice at all, was it? An environmental liberal vs. radical conservatives.
2004: G.W. Bush-Kerry. A man who had first-hand understanding of the horrors of war vs. a draft-dodger and his gang of chickenhawks
2008: McCain-Obama. OK, true, this wasn’t actually that stark a choice, despite what any of us may have thought then. But it’s a bit funny that Obama is belatedly admitting–albeit indirectly–that he and McCain weren’t so different after all.
But if you can’t find a starker choice in that list than what we currently face, you’re not old enough to vote.