Let me finish tonight with the old story of the elephants’ graveyard.
I first heard about this wondrous African land in old Tarzan movies; you know, the ones with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane. I loved those movies.
We’re now seeing the whole thing again, just as weirdly, with the political party that has the elephant as its symbol. We’re watching the old herd sadly trudging into the jungle to that place only they know.
Elephants have great memories, of course. It’s all part of their great mythology. They never forget.
Its great memory explains why the Republican Party tends to keep the old names close at heart, why it’s once again talking about getting Jeb Bush to run. It’s instinct working here, the love it has for the old, familiar names.
You know when I was growing up Richard Nixon was on the national Republican ticket - for vice president or president - in every election but one from the time I was in second grade ‘til the time I was working for the U.S. Senate, a span of twenty years.
Yes, the party remembers. It doesn’t forget and it rewards those who’ve been there in the past. Perhaps it prefers the past.
Things don’t change in the world of the elephant. Between 1952, just a handful of years after World War II, up until 2004, the election before last, three names appeared on every Republican ticket, again but for one, through the entire expanse of more than half a century: Nixon, Bush or Dole.
It’s all in the old record book of the elephant party. Nixon in 1952, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972; Bush in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004. Dole in 1976 and again an impressive twenty years later in 1996. The same three names again and again and again.
This is how the elephant thinks, the way he’s designed I suppose. He remembers; he keeps moving around in a fairly small circle with his trunk tied to the tail in front of him, with one of the tails somewhere up ahead belonging to the elephant right behind him.
So 2012 is just another year in the elephant cycle. They look around for a familiar name. But this time, there’s no answer. No Nixon. No Dole. Only a Bush. Jeb. But he doesn’t want to do it. Too many Bushes. Too many elephants named Bush. The elephants remember the name but now the people do too. Too well. Too many Bushes. Too many elephants named Bush.
And so the end has come. The elephants roam aimlessly now. They hear the name “Romney” and they feel nothing. They linger, hoping for a Bush - for Jeb.
And so the old, tired herd trudges toward the place where old elephants know to go - slowly, sadly, knowing the past is just - the past.