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Matthews: Where are the political stars?

Let me finish tonight with this.This Republican primary campaign lacks greatness.

Let me finish tonight with this.

This Republican primary campaign lacks greatness. I keep waiting for someone to thrust to the front, say something vital and compelling, and hear the crowd cheering with excitement.

Is this asking too much? Is my heart so demanding that it expects each four years--or eight--that each of the two major political parties send someone to the fore who captures the imagination of the American people?

No, but think hard.

Since World War II, tell me how many figures from either party has met this test? Has presented himself or herself before the people and asked us to make him or her president? How many young stars have we seen flash across the firmament?

Since those World War II holdovers Truman and Ike? Who are the young stars since then? There was Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Jack Kennedy. Then, on the right, Goldwater. That takes us into the '60s. I count four possible stars.

In the '70s, there was Carter, briefly, then Ronald Reagan, then finally, Clinton, then...okay, that's a total of eight since WWII.

Come on, name some stars, some heroes that have grabbed us with their magnetism. In this century, there's been Obama and Hillary Clinton...Ten possible heroes to lead the country in over 60 years. Scarce. That's the word for it. Scarce.

So the real problem today, I think, is that few young people are willing to enter the derby, to put their souls out there for our inspection, for our approval, for our excitement.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are forced to watch--for people like me to cover--this sparse arena that we see before us today: one lifetime wannabe who decided he wanted to be president after his father had failed, a couple of ideologues, and an opportunist. Not much.

The horror is not that so many will have to choose from among this tattered brigade, this Spirit of 2012 fluting itself across the parade ground. The real horror is that these four are all who wanted to show up for muster. Hardly anybody today wanted to be president.


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