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John McCain, Like Bob Dole Before Him, Succumbs to the Curse of Running Against the Bush Family

As John McCain lost the presidential election, you have gotten a sense of deja vu. McCain’s quest for the White House bore some eerie similarities to Dole’s crashing and burning in the 1996 election.

Before running for President, Dole and McCain have some similarities. Dole was wounded in World War II and his right arm was paralyzed. McCain was shot down in Vietnam and tortured daily for five and a half years. Among many military decorations, both Dole and McCain were awarded the Bronze Star.

Politically, Dole moved from the House of Representatives to the Senate with the reputation of a moderate who could converse with the opposition. McCain also moved from the House of Representatives to the Senate with a moderate streak that was publicized as “maverick” when he reached across the aisle.

In 1988, Bob Dole lost the Republican nomination to George H.W. Bush and had to bide his time for 8 years before capturing the nomination in 1996 at the age of 73.

In 2000, John McCain lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush and had to bide his time for 8 years before capturing the nomination earlier this year at the age of 72.

In 1996, at the receiving end of many jokes about his age, Dole seemed to succumb to George Santanya’s aphorism “fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” Perhaps overly concerned that this would be his last chance at the White House, Dole cast aside the wit and charm that had been his trademark and became an altogether crabby visage, given to referring to himself in the third person as an exceptionally negative campaign was waged.

As he began to seek the nomination last year, McCain, perhaps overly concerned that this may be his last chance at the White House, started actively courting the far reaches of the right wing that his previous campaign actively denounced. As his former adversaries joined his campaign, McCain, beset by jokes about his age, became a testy, if not precisely crabby figure as an extremely negative campaign is being waged.

George H.W. Bush delayed Bob Dole’s run for office and Dole lost himself.

George W. Bush delayed John McCain’s run for office and McCain lost himself.

Bob Dole lost his presidential race to a smooth-talking Democrat named Bill Clinton. After taking a couple months off to calm down, the old Bob Dole returned, as did his sense of humor. He did a mea culpa tour of the media and recorded a TV commercial for erectile dysfunction and another with Britney Spears.

John McCain lost to Barak Obama, whose “eloquence” was so great McCain was forced to use it as a talking point in their debates. McCain’s acceptance speech was the first time people heard the pre-campaign John McCain in quite some time. Get ready for the mother of all mea culpa appearances on Letterman. However, McCain being a maverick, I’m thinking he’ll trade in Britney Spears and erectile dysfunction for Jessica Simpson and “natural male enhancement,” when it comes time to start filming commercials.

If you’re a Republican thinking about running for president in 2012, and you’re remotely superstitious, don’t let Jeb Bush start an exploratory committee. There might be a curse working against you.

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