I just caught a fascinating C-Span retrospective on past presidential elections that raised an interesting question: will the upcoming national election parallel the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon epic?
The similarities are striking.
Both battles featured a Republican candidate who played the ‘experience’ card and a Democratic contender whose message was ‘hope.’
Forty-eight years ago, Richard M. Nixon had just finished two terms as Eisenhower’s vice president, briefly ‘served’ as chief commander while Ike convalesced from a heart attack and famously ‘out-bullied’ Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the so-called kitchen debate.
Heading into the November election, John McCain can point to decades of service in the Senate, a distinguished military career and a perception of a politician who votes his beliefs as opposed to the party line.
In 1960, JFK was portrayed as an inexperienced lightweight, despite his war record and years of service in both the House and Senate.
Today, Barack Obama finds himself in a similar position, courtesy of the Hillary and McCain propaganda machines.
Nixon and McCain were the safe, experienced candidates. Kennedy and Obama offered hope, and made the case that America could do much, much better than it had in the recent past.
Kennedy won because, in face-to-face confrontations with Nixon, he projected confidence. That image, coupled with his message of hope, carried the day. Obama’s moment of truth will come in face-to-face debates with McCain this Fall.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the upcoming debates will be the most pivotal in recent history. And, it will all come down to which candidate projects the more presidential image. Will hope once again trump experience? Let the games begin. Lights! Camera! Action!