Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Ted Kennedy's history lesson for Pa.

Kennedy's 1980 Pa. win foreshadows 2008

Ted Kennedy's history lesson for Pa.

Last night I was doing some research for an article and stumbled across this. Let's make a few redactions and see if it reminds you of anything:

Sen. XXXXXX XXXXXXXX scored a narrow victory in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, but failed to make headway in the important business of cutting into YYYYYYYY YYYYYY's lead in convention delegates....

Asserting that YYYYYY already has the nomination "sewed up," YYYYYYY's national campaign chairman, QQQQQQQ Q. QQQQQQQ, said the extremely close outcome in a state where XXXXXXX "had everything going for XXX" was a "devastating commentary on XXX ability to challenge YYYYYYYYY."

"They failed to achieve their objective," QQQQQQ said of the XXXXXX campaign in Pennsylvania. "XX made it Armageddon, we didn't. This was a major industrial state and XX failed to pick up delegates."...

According to QQQQQ, YYYYY has suuch a huge lead in delegates that XXXXX, in order to overtake him, would have to win more than 70 percent of the vote in the remaining primary and caucus states, which is virtually impossible...

According to XXXXXX aides, the YYYYY camp is counting on the support of a large number of delegates from caucus states who are not finally chosen or legally bound and who could turn in the end to XXXXX....

While XXXXXX in fact lost ground in the overall results from Tuesday's contests, XXX apparent narrow win in Pennsylvania allowed XXX to continue arguing that XX can close in on YYYYY's lead by winning other large, industrial states....

It may sound like it was ripped from last month's headlines, but the Washington Post article actually appeared on April 24, 1980. And so the Hillary Clinton-esque X is really Ted Kennedy, Y is not Barack Obama but Jimmy Carter (and Carter's chairman Q was Bob Strauss).

And so we all know how that story turned out -- Kennedy did fight on to the convention, fought a futile floor fight aimed at prying loose delegates, and delivered a well-regarded speech that undermined nominee Carter, who went on to lose the presidency to Ronald Reagan. Some 28 years later, it's not clear what lessons the Democrats have learned from that debacle, although I think it does explain those calling for Clinton to leave the race sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, there's a huge difference -- Obama will be facing the would-be heir to a highly unpopular president, while Jimmy Carter was the unpopular president. That may minimize Clinton's ability to hurt Obama's chances -- but it is still fascinating to see how often American political history repeats.

By the way, it was just reported that Kennedy is leaving the hospital this morning, which is good news, although the broader outlook is not.

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