He even LOOKS like Muskie.
Ed Muskie (1914-1996), a senator from Maine, was tipped by Hubert Humphrey to fill out the Democratic presidential ticket in 1968. When Humphrey lost, Muskie began gearing up to run against President Nixon in 1972. He lined up most of the Democrats who wanted to endorse a candidate; as recorded by Hunter Thompson and Ted White, Muskie was seen as the frontunner long before the campaign started. According to White:
… as 1972 began … Muskie’s campaign seemed irresistible. He had solid financial backing, a large and experienced staff, the endorsement of the party’s leading figures, the advice of the party sages, the affirmation of the nation’s pollsters. But if Muskie was long at the bank and on the letterhead, he was short, depressingly short, on ideas. “To this day,” said campaign coordinator Jack English after it was all over, “I don’t know what the campaign was about. We never had a theme.” (White: The Making of the President 1972, p.79)
Muskie was eventually edged out of the race by two Georges – McGovern on the left, and Wallace on the right.
John Kerry declared late in 2002 and, for a while, his campaign seemed inevitable. On Feb. 23 this year, Adam Nagourney summed up Kerry’s progress for the New York Times.
If his support is fairly broad, it is hardly deep; even his advisers acknowledge that much of it is the pragmatic response of Democrats drawn more to the resume than to the man.
But appreciating the political dynamics of this year, Mr. Kerry and his aides have moved to overcome these concerns, thrusting his candidacy ahead with a combination of bluster and a calculated burst of early spending on a big staff, including some of the more respected names in Democratic politics. Mr. Kerry is about to announce that he has hired the Washington media consultant Bob Shrum, along with his partners Tad Devine and Mike Donilon.
Mr. Kerry has made fund-raising calls while convalescing. More important, his aides have let it be known that he was making fund-raising calls while convalescing, to drive a perception that he is a serious and driven candidate.
And his protestations not withstanding, many party and labor leaders, noting the speed at which Mr. Kerry is spending money on high-priced campaign talent, predict he will ultimately bow out of the presidential campaign finance system and tap his wife’s fortune to finance his campaign. True or not, the notion that Mr. Kerry might do that has raised his stock among Democrats who are worried about the huge fund-raising advantage President Bush enjoys.
Finally, Mr. Kerry’s campaign has shown an ability to drive — his opponents suggest a better word might be “manipulate” — the news coverage that is so influential on the dynamics of the primaries. He has been the beneficiary of a number of favorable articles and news columns, and more are in the works.
Indeed, on the very day that Mr. Kerry entered a Baltimore hospital for surgery to remove his cancerous prostate, his advisers were pushing reporters to write articles suggesting that this was the first big test of Mr. Kerry’s campaign — and that the campaign had mastered the moment.
Tomorrow, Howard Dean is expected to reveal that he’s raised $6.5 million from the largest base of supporters in the party. As Kerry relinquishes his frontrunner status, it’s instructive to remember what happens to a guy when he runs on inevitability.