Many of you might not be aware of my personal political history. I was volunteer on Gary Hart's 1984 Presidential campaign. When he dropped out of the 1988 race, the first time, I discovered the upstart candidacy of Michigan congressman Jack Tanner. Though Rep. Tanner was unable to break through against Democratic heavyweights like Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson, Tanner made a big impression on me and a lot of other Democrats, with his intelligence and integrity. Most of all, we admired his independence and his audacity...and we longed for progressive politics. The excitement of his candidacy was captured in the ground-breaking insider's look provided us by filmmaker Robert Altman, in Tanner '88.
As the Democratic race this year has become increasingly nasty and divisive, I have come to the conclusion that the Party needs Jack Tanner more than ever. That's why I'm proposing the formation of a Draft Tanner movement. I know a lot of you don't know Jack. America never really got to know Jack Tanner. For those of you who really don't know Jack, I'd like to introduce you to Jack Tanner.
Jack Tanner might not have the name recognition, or the eloquence of Barack Obama. He hasn't been a familiar face in our nation's politics for the last 16 years, like Hillary Clinton, and he lacks her cold-bloodedness. But, for those of us of a certain age, Jack and daughter Alex were like an early version of the Hillary-Chelsea team. Their idealism inspired thousands. Jack Tanner was a populist in the guise of a mild-mannered legislator with Hollywood-good looks. He was the adult that young people most admired. He was a liberal's liberal.
For those who want a sense of the man, consider some of the people he proposed for his cabinet: Joan Claybrook, Secretary of Transportation; Ralph Nader, Attorney General; Gloria Steinem, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Lee Hamilton, Secretary of State; Robert Redford, Secretary of the Interior; Jim Hightower, Secretary of Agriculture; and Barbara Jordan, for US representative to the United Nations. A more progressive set of voices was unimaginable.
Tanner wanted to take back the Democratic Party. The kind of insurgent candidacy that John Edwards tried to run. That role seemed an ill-fit for Edwards -- at least for some progressives, who pointed to a voting record that did not match his current rhetoric. Tanner's liberal credentials are unimpeachable.
I'd like to see Jack Tanner re-enter the fray. Even if it's too late for a run at the top of the ticket, he can force Obama to take him as his running mate. That's the kind of leadership we deserve. America, you might not know Jack now, but when you wise up, you will. Let's demand another run for Jack Tanner.