Many on the Left believe Obama has let them down, that he’s just too much of a centrist for them. One of these is Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent.-Vt.) who recently appeared on a talk show and said this about deciding to challenge the party leader, according to The Daily Caller‘s Jeff Poor:
“Well, at this point I have not,” Sanders said. “But I am now giving thought to doing it. You know, I think you know the names out there as well as I do. And I think the American people have got to be engaged. It’s not just me or anybody else here in Washington. There are a lot of smart honest progressive people who I think can be good presidents.”Sanders said such a challenge was necessary since in his estimation, the president had begun to take his position as the party leader for granted. And I think one of the reasons President Obama has moved as far to the right as he has is he thinks he can go all the way and no one will stand up to him,” Sanders continued. “So, Tim I don’t want to tell you more than that but this is an issue I am – we are beginning to talk about a little bit.”
This may appear at first blush to be a distraction and a minor issue. But it isn’t. Here’s why: in the past six decades there have been five primary challenges to the incumbent president, and every time it occurred, the incumbent and his party lost the Presidency. In 1952, Truman was challenged by Kefauver who beat the President in New Hampshire. Truman withdrew and Stevenson ran and lost to Ike. In ’68, Eugene McCarthy challenged LBJ, and his surrogate and veep Humphrey lost to Nixon. In ’76. Reagan challenged Ford, who succeeded in becoming the nominee but still lost to Carter. Ted Kennedy challenged Carter in ’80, when Carter held him off but lost to Reagan. Finally, Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in ’92, and while Bush won the nomination, he lost to Clinton.
Bottom line: a challenge from Sanders or from anyone else could, if history is an accurate predictor, spell the end of the Obama years, all four of them.