Old, Unelectable Democrats Have Lots of Advice for Barack Obama

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From left: Mondale, Carter, and Dukakis. Photos: Getty Images

Though his party is ailing as we enter the home stretch of the election, President Obama and his supporters can take heart, knowing that he's getting new strategies for electoral success from a fresh crop of advisers.

For example: former vice president and failed presidential candidate Walter Mondale. You can't read the news these days without finding pearls of wisdom the Minnesota Democrat has dropped. Mondale is 82 and last won a major election under his own name in a 1970 Senate race. After a term as vice president, he ran for president in 1984 and lost every state save his own and the District of Columbia. And yet he's everywhere: on CNN, telling Obama to lose his teleprompters (or "idiot boards," as he calls them), which he says account for a gulf between the president and the people; and using The New Yorker's Jane Mayer as the medium for some free advice for the West Wing in September.

Of course, Mondale's old boss Jimmy Carter has some suggestions, too. The man from Plains is a couple of years older than Mondale, but he also did a little better in his last turn at the polls: he took six states and D.C. when he was whomped by Reagan in 1980. He recommends that Obama focus on the economy (in fairness, he says he thinks Obama knows that's important).

Not to be upstaged, 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis is in on the act, too. Dukakis, who's 76, last ran for office in 1988, when he was solidly trounced by George H.W. Bush, although he fared better than Mondale or Carter. The Boston Globe reports that he's been to the White House to offer his counsel: "There has to be a single message coming from Democrats, from the president on down."

The Democratic base will no doubt feel reassured by the new stable of advisers. But just for good measure, though, shouldn't somebody get Gary Hart on the line?