Michael Barone

Liberals like to think and talk about themselves as if they were the wave of the future. Note, for example, how Barack Obama and John Kerry have denounced Islamist terrorists and Vladimir Putin for behaving as if they are still in the "19th century."

On domestic policy, liberals see history as a story of progress from tiny government to ever-larger government -- though never stating exactly how far that movement should go.

Obama came to the nation's attention in 2004 as a new figure, young and future-oriented. His successful 2008 campaign was seen as a drive for "hope and change." But in many ways today's Democrats seem stuck in the past, a party whose headliners are increasingly legacy candidates.

Examples are found in seriously contested Senate races. In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor has run an ad featuring his father, David, who was first elected to the House in 1966, as governor in 1974 and to the Senate in 1978.

He retired from the Senate in 1996, 18 years ago. Since then, Republicans have captured majorities in both houses of the state legislature and the entire congressional delegation except for Pryor's seat.

In Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu was embarrassed by the revelation that her in-state residence is her parents' house. Appropriately, perhaps, since politics is the family business.

Her father, Moon Landrieu, was first elected to public office in 1960. He was elected mayor of New Orleans in 1970 and 1974. His fame helped Mary Landrieu win three Senate races, never with more than 52 percent of the vote, and it helped her brother Mitch get elected lieutenant governor in 2003 and 2007 and New Orleans mayor in 2010 and again this February.

Up in Alaska, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faces a tough challenge. Elected mayor of Anchorage in 2003 and 2007, he comes from a well-known political family. His father, Nick, was elected to Congress in 1970 and was lost in a plane crash with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs in 1972, 42 years ago. This year, Begich's campaign produced an ad featuring footage from his father's old campaign commercials.

Or consider the two largest safe Democratic states, both with governors who are the sons of governors. Andrew Cuomo's father, Mario, was elected governor of New York in 1982, 1986 and 1990. Jerry Brown's father, Pat, was elected governor of California in 1958 and 1962, and Jerry won his first public office in 1969 and the governorship in 1974 and 1978.

California's Democratic senators both lack political parentage but won their first elections a long time ago, Dianne Feinstein in 1969 and Barbara Boxer in 1976.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM