A failed one-term congressman, wishy-washy on his party's most important moral issue, no executive experience, too homely for television — and despite the media campaign to make him out as a simple, honest frontiersman, in reality he was a highly successful lawyer for the nation's most powerful industry. His own law partner noted, "his ambition was a little engine that knew no rest." You know him as Abraham Lincoln.
An elitist intellectual, hotheaded, jingoist warmonger, impetuous and too young to be even vice president. Otherwise known as Theodore Roosevelt. The white privilege dandy who concealed his crushing disability and constant pain, running on a balanced-budget promise but in reality holding no fixed ideology and depending on a coalition that included Southern segregationists. That was TR's cousin, Franklin Roosevelt.
On the other hand, there was "the great engineer," a self-made man, the rightly lionized savior of refugees in World War I — the only man who came out of the Paris peace conference of 1919 with his reputation enhanced, according to John Maynard Keynes. This progressive and pragmatic man seemed ideally cut for his time. Yet Herbert Hoover as president was overwhelmed by catastrophe.
You see how it goes. How the digital age distorts. How contingency and crisis reveal character. Now, with the republic facing its greatest danger since the eve of the Civil War, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton steps forward to claim the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.