First, a look at what the locusts have consumed:
The chance to adapt the United States to a global economy unlike the one that existed at the beginning of the period, which roughly coincided with the new millennium. The chance to align the nation’s staggering entitlement obligations with the demographics of the new nation, which bears no relation to the world of 1935 (the birth of Social Security), or 1965 (the birth of Medicare), or even 1983 (the adjustments made to Social Security by a bipartisan committee that included Alan Greenspan, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Robert J. Dole, figures who have no analogue in contemporary America).
But wait! There’s more:
The chance to understand the new balance of power in the world, which bears no resemblance to the one that Bush struggled to understand in 2001. The chance to understand how disruptive technology and new media have transformed how we communicate and — far more important — how we learn and how we think.
Plus these: The chance to come to grips with the biggest but most ignored domestic crisis the nation faces in the run-up to the third decade of the 21st century, the failure of almost all but the 1 percent to save enough money for retirement. The chance to fix the higher-education crisis in a meaningful way, not the anti-intellectual impulse Obama succumbed to when he sought to measure the value of education by measuring the salaries of 23-year-olds with college diplomas.
And now to the nominees themselves and their fitness to rise above the din and address the unaddressed.
So much about presidential candidates and campaigns is unpredictable. Henry Adams, related to two presidents, is quoted in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book, scheduled for publication in a fortnight, as calling William Howard Taft “the best equipped man for the presidency who had been suggested by either party” during his lifetime.