Consecrate a Scandinavian-American in the spirit of Obama-mania and footlight a contradiction: the Audacity of Pessimism.
Consider John Anderson, the octogenarian former Illinois Republican congressman and 1980 Independent presidential candidate (Anderson agreed that his age, 86, was irrelevant). Anderson's recent Barack endorsement complements another Obama-celebrity booster, former EPA administrator and elder-fish-head statesman, Bill Ruckelshaus.
"I'm nursing my wounds," Anderson said over scotch, the day after the Pennsylvania primary.
"It's a little debilitating, but not enough to lose your resolve," he said.
I was visiting Anderson in Washington, D.C., the day after I moderated a panel noodling a proposed U.S. Public Service Academy.
Only once during our conversation did Anderson exhibit attenuated judgment.
"I'm very proud of my Swedish heritage," he said.
In the Northwest, Anderson's 1980 presidential bid ignited passionate support. There was a refreshing courage to his message, from promoting a national gasoline tax to bolster conservation to delivering a speech to the National Rifle Association knocking the organization's strategy of quashing gun control.
The latter drew hoots from Westerners, Democrats included, but it was arguably more brave than foolish (members of the audience were packing heat after all). That year Anderson managed a politician's dream, albeit a doomed one, of advocating a vision for America unencumbered by pollsters and special interests.
Over the past quarter century, he's remained civically active and continues to teach electoral and constitutional law. In 2006, he flew to Tacoma to push Amendment Three to the Pierce County Charter. The amendment established instant runoff elections, a political tool that boosts the viability of independent candidates.
All the while, Anderson was dogged by a former Republican colleague,Burt Talcott, who had "minimum high regard" for Anderson's advocacy.
In the end, Anderson won.
What of Tuesday's disappointing returns? "I have not not become hopeless," he said, despite the Democratic party's "self-wounding."
In particular, the recent endorsements of former Senators Sam Nunn and David Boren should resonate with more conservative voters, he said.
Obama-mania notwithstanding, what about the odds of ever electing a "squarehead" President? (slang for a Scandinavian).
"That won't happen for a long, long time," Anderson said.
Editor's note: William Ruckelshaus, mentioned in this article, is one of 18 owners of Crosscut.