October 11th, 2008
12:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Greene: Palin, Obama and the new-guy effect

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/10/greene.new.guy/art.timecover1.time.jpg  caption="The Time magazine cover featuring Richard Nixon."]

ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS (CNN) - Sometimes it seems that the best thing you can be in a presidential election is the new guy.

The new guy represents, almost automatically, that magic word: Change.

Sen. Barack Obama was the new guy when he launched his run for the presidency, and change was his calling card.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, when she joined Sen. John McCain's ticket, suddenly became - gender notwithstanding - the newer new guy. She talks almost every day about how she and McCain are the real agents of change.

But if there is anything that is traditional and abiding in presidential politics, it is the promise of change. It's like the word "New" on boxes in grocery store aisles: As a promotional tool, the allure of change is old-shoe.

So, in this election season of new guys and declarations of change - this season of Obama and Palin and their sudden ascents - it may be instructive for us to step away for a moment from the frenzy of the final weeks of the campaign, and to remind ourselves that everyone, in presidential politics as in life, was at some point the new guy.

With that in mind I looked for a copy of the first Time magazine to feature Richard Nixon on its cover. Nixon would go on to appear on Time's cover on more than 50 occasions, some happier than others.

But for every new guy, there is a first time (and for every presidential new guy, there is a first Time) - and Nixon's first was the edition of August 25, 1952. He was 39 years old, on the Republican ticket as Dwight D. Eisenhower's vice presidential nominee.


Filed under: Bob Greene • Election Express
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