Younger readers may not remember much about Gary Hart. He was sort of a Clinton precursor: relatively young, of hard-to-define but relatively moderate leanings, supposedly a “policy wonk,” considered by his fans to be really, really smart. And popular with a certain sort of young lady. In the 1984 campaign he lost out to Walter Mondale, which tells you what you need to know about his political skills.
Rumors of Hart’s philandering were rampant, so he held a press conference in which he challenged reporters to follow him around and see whether those rumors were true. They did. They were.
Hart and some friends chartered a yacht called Monkey Business in the Bahamas and went on a cruise. Photos of Hart with a young woman named Donna Rice resulted; Hart’s career cratered. (Five years later two of my brothers and I, along with our families, vacationed on Cape Cod. We were walking through a marina one day and saw a boat with the name Monkey Business across the back. Sure enough, same boat. I’ve got a picture of it somewhere.)
Now, after years of exile, Hart has returned to public life. I can’t remember whether he is one of the announced Democratic Presidential candidates or not, but he is more or less in the race. Hart’s timing was never very good, however. He has an op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post called “A Detour From the War on Terrorism.” Written, no doubt, before the capture of Mohammed, and published within hours–I hope–of the final demise of bin Laden and some of his closest aides, Hart’s article recycles the lame Democratic theme that Bush’s “obsession” with Iraq is hurting the war on terror. Poor Gary never did have much luck. Worse, however, is his ridiculing of the President’s plan to bring democracy to the Arab world (“on the point of a bayonet”). Like fellow “wonk” Bill Clinton, Hart never had much time for principles.
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