Peggy Noonan looks at Donald Trump's continued dominance of the Republican presidential race and finds a culprit: Barack Obama.
The only thing I feel certain of is how we got here. There are many reasons we’re at this moment, but the essential political one is this: Mr. Obama lowered the bar. He was a literal unknown, an obscure former state legislator who hadn’t completed his single term as U.S. senator, but he was charismatic, canny, compelling. He came from nowhere and won it all twice. All previously prevailing standards, all usual expectations, were thrown out the window.
Oh, right -- prior to Obama, we never elected a president who was unknown and obscure (Carter), or inexperienced (Lincoln), or youthfully charismatic (Kennedy, Clinton), did we?
But, of course, Trump wasn't unknown or obscure before he entered this race. He didn't come from nowhere. He's decades older than Obama was when he first ran, he's white rather than black, he hasn't mastered the issues in the way Obama had by 2008 (nor has he shown any interest in mastering them) -- and, where Obama was dignified and mostly soft-spoken, Trump is a trash-talking loudmouth and a buffoon. But other than that they're two peas in a pod, right, Peggy?
Who really lowered the bar? I'd say it was the party that not only reveres an ex-actor and insult comic named Ronald Reagan but seriously considered him as a possible presidential candidate when he'd been in elective office less than two years. I'd say it's the party that put George W. Bush and Dan Quayle on two tickets each. I'd say it's the party that gave respectful consideration to presidential aspirants such as Pat Robertson, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And I say it's the party that made Sarah Palin its vice presidential candidate, then made her a superstar.
If the bar's low, Peggy, your party's voters are the reason.
(crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog)