Hart waits for the US to `grow up'

MISSING PERSONS NO 33: GARY HART

Suspend disbelief for an instant. Suppose there had been no Donna Rice, no good ship Monkey Business, or at least a front-running Democratic candidate a mite less feckless in matters of marital fidelity (we are talking about that vanished, prudish age of the late 1980s). Suppose, too, no other calamity struck before election day 1988, and our winning candidate managed a reasonably competent first term. The name of the ``New Democrat'' in the White House right now would not be Bill Clinton, but Gary Hart.

It was, of course, not to be. Revelation in May 1987 of Mr Hart's liaison dangereuse with the comely Ms Rice sank his candidacy irretrievably. Today a chastened, wiser Mr Hart is to be found in the employ of an international law firm in Denver, travelling the world - especially the former Soviet Union - to drum up opportunities for US trade and investment. He sports a thicker, greyer head of hair than in his heyday, and the beginnings of a paunch. But amazingly, eight years after his disgrace, Gary Hart is again nibbling at America's political consciousness.

In one sense, he never really left it. Mr Hart, and the treatment he received, is where any debate about the private lives of US public figures begins. He was, it could be argued, the necessary sacrifice which allowed that equal sinner Bill Clinton to be elected in 1992. Was Mr Hart crucified unfairly by the media? The argument still smoulders, and soon it could burst into flames again. At 58, Mr Hart is considering a comeback by running next year for the Senate seat he gave up in 1986.

``The whole political world has grown up,'' he asserted as he dropped his bombshell to the Denver Post last month, implying that these days America can handle his type of peccadillo. Others might simply conclude that the whole political world has gone mad. Polls show Mr Hart would be trounced by any declared opponent for the Colorado seat being vacated by Hank Brown, a Republican. The Republican Party's state chairman salivates at the prospect of a Hart campaign: If Mr Hart runs, a photo of Ms Rice perched on his lap ``will be on every billboard in Colorado''.

Even from fellow Democrats, the faint praise has been deafening. Once Mr Hart, with his innovative ideas on defence, national service and marrying market economics with social awareness, was Pied Piper for a new, younger generation of Democrats. He conveyed dash and excitement - in his politics as well as his sex life the forebear of Bill Clinton. Today, only high name recognition remains. The young of the 1990s seek other gurus. Baby Boomers who once believed in Mr Hart have moved on too, left only with disappointment and a lingering sense of betrayal.

Yet the very notion of a Hart candidacy encapsulates the plight of the Democratic Party. Colorado, in keeping with the entire country, has shifted rightward since the 1980s. There, as in so many other places, the Democrats have a dearth of plausible congressional candidates. Intriguingly, the urgings to arms have come not from local Democrats, but from nationally known Senators, like Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and John Breaux of Louisiana, and - to hear Mr Hart tell it - ``from some people in the administration''. Can things really be that desperate? Evidently yes.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on