In 2008 It's Ronald Reagan vs. Bobby Kennedy

Both parties want to nominate reincarnations of their ideal statesmen. Guess which candidate stands to benefit

Martin Lichtner - Time Life Pictures / Getty, left; Michael Evans - Zuma

Left, Senator Robert Kennedy circa 1965 and Ronald Reagan circa 1975

"The past is never dead; it's not even past." — Gavin Stevens, in William Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun

For major political parties, which outlive their individual leaders and partisans, the past is never dead. It's not even past. That's especially evident when those parties look to the future. As Republicans and Democrats focus on November 2008, it's clear each of them yearns to nominate a second coming of its beau ideal, the figure it has most admired in recent decades. For Republicans, that's Ronald Reagan. For Democrats, it's Robert Kennedy.

Reagan is the more...

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