by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[I]t’s really the case of a much more familiar and often quite tragic story — the tale of the klutz, out of his league in the closest of struggles, and quite often shooting his feet. There was Al Gore in 2000; Mitt Romney (to a lesser extent) in 2012; and now there is Hillary, kicking away a winnable race via tone-deafness, and proving a woman — the first woman candidate of a big national party — can lose just as big as the boys can.
In politics, as in all sports, there are the naturals — see Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and John F. Kennedy — who never lose an election or get very much wrong, relate to anyone on any level without even trying, have a gear in their heads that automatically adjusts their speech to the idiom and emotional level of the crowd they’re addressing. These people never have to resort to nastiness on any level, as they can tear a rival to shreds with a quip.
If the signature move of the natural is “There you go again,” with which Ronald Reagan decked Jimmy Carter, then the ultimate move of the klutz is Gore looming over George W. Bush in the the last debate in 2000. Bush looked up, nodded at him, and calmly went on with his speech.