1972 Redux?

Richard Cohen believes that the Democratic Party may shoot itself in the foot by choosing a presidential nominee who caters to the anti-war left the way George McGovern did in 1972:

Will history trump the polls? It will if, as in the past, the Democratic Party so wounds itself fighting the war against the war, it nominates a candidate beloved by a minority but mistrusted by a majority. It has happened before.

Even though I am a supporter of the Iraq War, I think this analysis is overly simplistic. Last fall, when Ned Lamont won the primary, the hawks (including yours truly) were celebrating the return of the McGovernites. But it turned out that opposition to the Iraq War had really become mainstream enough to fuel the Democrats’ November landslide. In 1972, both candidates believed in ending the war in Vietnam, but Nixon offered a way to do it honorably. In 2008 we face the prospect of having a Republican candidate who supports staying in Iraq and Democratic candidate who is promising to bring the troops home. That’s a tough spot for the GOP to be in. With that said, I do not think the Republicans are doomed in 2008, but I think the result will have to do more with the eventual match up than the Iraq War.