George Allen’s tenure in the U.S. Senate ended abruptly last fall with his defeat by Jim Webb. However, let’s not write Allen’s political obituary just yet. Sure, it was a disappointing loss for Allen, who, just four months prior, seemed like a cinch to win overwhelming re-election and be on his way to a formidable run for the White House in 2008. Now, after several gaffes and a poorly run campaign, he sits as a former senator with his 2008 presidential aspirations having been dashed. My, how quickly fortunes can change in politics!
However, history teaches us that political fortunes can change back as well. We need to look no further than Richard Nixon. After having been Vice President of the United States for eight years, Nixon lost a tight presidential election to Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960. Seeking to regain his political footing in 1962, Nixon ran against Pat Brown for governor of California, Nixon’s home state and one that he had represented in the U.S. House and Senate, prior to being elected vice president.
Nixon had expected to win easily, but he was stunned when Brown defeated him. Still in shock from the surprising loss, Nixon decided to retreat from politics and made his famous address in which he said, “You won’t have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore.” Almost every political pundit in the country agreed that Nixon was done — political toast. Of course, who knew that he would come back six years later and be elected President of the United States?
Similarly, George Allen could conceivably make a comeback. Virginia’s other U.S. Senator, John Warner, might retire in 2008, instead of running for re-election. Two years is a long time in politics and voters are notorious for having short memories. And it’s quite possible that the Democrats could be out of favor by that time. If Allen could win the GOP nomination and then defeat a prominent Democrat for Warner’s seat, he could recover his national stature and have a shot at the presidency in 2012 or 2016. Remember, he’s still relatively young.
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