Once Again: GOP Lacking Usual "Zeal" for Their 2008 Candidates

The Times Sunday Week in Review fronted a story from political reporter Adam Nagourney, "For the G.O.P., Falling in Love Is Hard to Do," his second piece in under a week on the lack of enthusiasm for Republican candidates on the part of Republican voters. It begins with a little condescension.

"Here's another way Republican voters tend to be different from Democratic voters: They like - no, love - their presidential candidates. Not always, of course. But from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Dwight Eisenhower, Republicans voters have displayed a zeal for their candidates that Democrats could only envy.

"Which is what makes this Republican presidential contest so striking. It is hard to think of another campaign when Republicans have seemed less excited about their choices. That was the unmistakable lesson of the rapid ascension in recent polls of Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, the latest in a line of Republican flavors of the month. A New York Times/CBS News poll last week found that none of the Republican candidates - not even the suddenly hot Mr. Huckabee - was viewed favorably by even half of Republican voters."

(Deep inside the piece, Nagourney admitted the Democrats did have kind of a thing for JFK.)

The despairing drumbeat continued.

"To some extent, this may be a one-year anomaly, a harsh judgment on a cast of candidates with each hobbled by some failing of character, ideology or record. It is also, no doubt, the latest sign of just how weary rank-and-file Republicans have become of their party. And several Republicans said this could change once the Republicans settle on a nominee, and particularly if the Democrats nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

"But what is worrying Republicans these days is that this tepid rank-and-file reception to the best the party has to offer suggests that the Republican Party is hitting a wall after dominating American politics for most of the last 35 years. Republican voters are reacting to - or rather, not reacting to - a field of presidential candidates who have defined their candidacies with familiar, even musty, Republican promises, slogans and policies."

On his CNN show Sunday, host Lou Dobbs got a laugh out of Nagourney's article while talking to Diana West, editorial writer for the Washington Times. According to a Lexis transcript, Dobbs said:

"I kind of laughed, Diana West, this week because the 'New York Times' had an article about how Republicans aren't too happy with their candidates. Which is sort of funny for the 'New York Times.' Which is a house organ for the Democratic Party."