Thud. What can the John Anderson campaign do to keep itself from foundering after the vice-presidential announcement that was supposed to revivify it turned out to be an anticlimax? It is nothing against Patrick Lucey's long career in politics and government to note that a name of broader scope was needed to give new life and meaning to Anderson's "national unity" drive. To continue to make a useful contribution to this political year, the Anderson forces will have to return to reasoning with the public on what to be united form not simply against.m
Unfortunately, as the independents in between two widely scorned major party candidates, Anderson and company face the temptation to concentrate on potting the sitting ducks of policy and practice on the Carter and Reagan sides. The line has increasingly been that Carter's awful record cannot prevent the awful prospect of a Reagan victory and therefore both of them should be attacked on behalf of the Anderson difference. And Lucey, on joining the ticket, took the line a combative step further by saying that not he but Carter had "abandoned" the Democratic Party -- and "only John Anderson stands between us and a Reagan administration that would turn this country over to Jesse Helms and Phyllis Schlafly and the Taiwan lobby."
This is the sort of thing the Anderson campaign does not nned if it is to build on its potential strength of spelling out persuasive alternatives to what Carter and Reagan offer. By taking the latter course -- which had appeared to be Anderson's original course -- the Anderson-Lucey ticket could leave the political process a little better than it found it even without gaining the electoral success that few now imagine for it.
Candidate Lucey comes to the campaign carrying the political pluses and minuses of many years in alliance with the Kennedys. As deputy director of Edward Kennedy's primary campaign he was unable to prevent Carter from riding the hostage situation to a landslide in Wisconsin, the state Lucey had served as governor. Yet he must share in the success of the Kennedy campaign in influencing the Democratic convention, though he withdrew as a delegate unable to sit still for the nomination of Carter. He might bring along some other disaffected Kennedyites into the Anderson camp.
But, even with campaign packager David Garth in the picture, such political calculations ought not to dominate an Anderson effort. After all, there really was an Anderson difference, and to maintain it would seem to be good for politics as well as for the country.