Desperately Seeking Gravitas

So I'm at this financial seminar yesterday and the issue of the 2008 election comes up.

Most seem disappointed.

"No gravitas," says one.

"Not a one of these clowns looks presidential to me," says another. So they wait and they hope — for someone like Fred Thompson to light up a boring Republican crowd or Al Gore to ease voter frustration in the Democratic crowd.

Outside guys look good from afar when they're not in the race, but usually far from good when they are in the race.

No matter. We keep dreaming, even as we keep missing a simple fact: You can't become presidential until you become president.

Look, I know Bill Clinton's a rock star to many Democrats today, but I can remember 19 summers ago when he gave a very long speech to a very much booing convention audience. They didn't seem to think him presidential then.

And I don't think they were calling Harry Truman very presidential even when he was president, until years later, when we discovered, you know what, he was a heck of a president.

So too Ronald Reagan: to many, a disappointing third-rate actor then, a first-rate president now.

Funny thing, history — funny people become historic.

But we keep looking and keep forgetting.

Maybe the gravitas we seek is staring at us from behind one of those podiums we ignore.

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