David Limbaugh

Isn't it ironic that as the Republican primaries were gearing up four years ago, Democrats and the media began their refrain that George W. Bush was not presidential material because he lacked "gravitas"?

Today, Bush is overflowing with the stuff, and not one of the Democratic presidential contenders can rise above "dwarf" status.

But in 2000, there were so many allusions to Bush's dearth of gravitas that it's difficult to narrow a Nexis search to find fewer than 1,000 entries on it.

In January 2000, Chris Matthews asked George Pataki, "And you have to ask about George W. Bush, is the package full? And there have been questions raised about his gravitas, his weight, his I.Q., have you been ever suspicious that he may not have the weight to be president?"

In February, the New York Times quoted an unnamed strategist as saying, "It's gotten to the point where the issue of Bush's gravitas and abilities as a candidate are the driving issues of the campaign."

In March, Stuart Rothenberg wrote, "If Bush suffers from questions about gravitas, Bush-Dole might look like the helium ticket of all time."

In April, columnists Germond and Witcover wrote, "Happily for Gore, Bush has hard-to-fix problems of his own. Although his personal negatives are less daunting than those of Gore, the Texas governor is viewed by a least a significant minority of voters as lacking the required gravitas for the office."

In May, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, "Al Gore ? raised an important question: Does George W. Bush have the experience, the gravitas and, by implication, the brains to run U.S. foreign policy?"

In June, Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske wrote, "Jack Danforth for vice president? ? The former Missouri senator would bring gravitas and intellectual heft to the GOP ticket? A seriousness of purpose hangs on him like yellow on corn. It's precisely the quality that would serve as an effective counterweight to George W. Bush, whose image as something of a lightweight endures."

This pattern continued through the November election and beyond. Where are those questions today about the Democratic hopefuls at a time when presidential gravitas is more important than ever given our ongoing war on terror?

Indeed, the "gravitas" factor is haunting the Democrats this year. President Bush is now widely regarded as a mature leader, and the Democratic candidates are squabbling and sniping like a bunch of schoolyard adolescents.

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert on law and politics. He recently authored the New York Times best-selling book: "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel."

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