GOP pundits have misremembered and misread history in hopes that the same forces that destroyed the Democratic Party in 1968 don't repeat themselves, this time with the Republicans getting swept aside. Maybe Ramesh Ponnuru was not yet born; maybe David Brooks was too young to remember it well; maybe George Will's memory has failed him, but in 1968 the Democrats were destroyed because they were PRO-war, not anti-war.
In recent news panels, Ponnuru, Brooks, and Will, have each said that in 1968 the anti-War faction of the Democrats lead the Party to defeat, yet in 1968 the Democratic standard bearer, Hubert Humphrey dared not cross his boss, Lyndon Johnson, and take a strong anti-War stance. Thus, it was Richard Nixon who claimed to have a "secret plan" to end the war, who left the albatross of Vietnam hang around the neck of the Democrats.
Orson Wells in his "The Begetting of the President," a sort of biblical take-off on the politics of the time, reads the story from "The Book of Hubert" (Job) and it is sad and ironic and it hit the point, smack on. Hubert dared not speak against LBJ, or "charge foolishly." His loyalty was being tested and hence the standard bearer could not speak of the mistake of Vietnam in the way he needed to and early enough.
The real tragedy for this nation was the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy won the 1968 California primary and on the night of his victory he said, "now it's on to Chicago and let's win there," (at the Democratic National Convention). Moments later he was shot through the head by an assassin.
Of course these things can never be proven, but had Kennedy lived to go to the Democratic Convention, he may well have won there and taken the election. Kennedy may well have been able to end the War sooner than Nixon and with less cost.
As it was, the anti-War Democrats did not lose because their policy was wrong. They lost because their standard bearer was murdered. Robert F. Kennedy would have had no problem at all saying Johnson's Policy had failed.
Today the pundits of the GOP are misremembering the lessons of 1968. In fact, we see a similar foolishness with Lieberman who unlike Humphrey is not beholding to the President, does not charge "foolishly" and in being pro-war has painted himself into a bit of a political corner.
The lesson of 1968 is not that the anti-War wing causes Democrats to lose elections. In my view it is that rhetoric about the war being right and let's not talk against the war is a way to lose.
The GOP is following in the footsteps of LBJ and the 1968 rout.
November draws near and time will tell.