Of political comebacks and -- Gerald Ford?
The news that Bert Lance now is the Democratic state chairman in Georgia is a reminder that politicians who are written off are sometimes able to make a comeback.
Already, the Democratic presidential candidates are bobbing in and out of Georgia, visiting Lance, and hoping they can enlist his help in getting them that state's party support. And Lance, who never got the bad reading for his banking activities at home that he did here in Washington, is said to be thinking about making another bid for governor.
Even Richard Nixon, who most observers believe will never be able to remove the stains of Watergate, is gaining some degree of rehabilitation. Some liberal writers who wrote with glee about Nixon's misfortunes are saying some nice things these days about Nixon's foreign policy.
But they do this with the conviction that it can be done without bringing Nixon back even close to respectability. Thus, they feel they are safe in citing Nixon's accommodations with mainland China and his detente with the Soviets as a reference point for criticizing Mr. Reagan for what they see as his bellicose, adamant, hard position on this issue.
Some comebacks, or comeback efforts, are less visible simply because they have had nothing to do with questions about ethical conduct.
People now forget that Robert Dole, as a vice-presidential candidate in 1976, was given quite a dark visage by his critics. The conventional political wisdom is that Dole's rhetoric, as he carried on the hard-jabbing role assigned to him in his bouts with Mondale, was just acerbic enough to thrust him into something like anonymity.
Yet Dole is once again riding high - higher than he has ever been before, including his vice-presidential nominee experience. He has become one of the Senate's leading sages and power wielders. When Dole talks, everyone knows that the President listens.
A political comeback scenario is usually one that ''grabs'' the public. The rags-to-riches story has always played well. And the rags to riches to rags and back to better days has usually won a particularly sympathetic response among the voters.
Part of the cheering for Walter Mondale today is for the spunk of a loser (and it must be remembered that he and Carter lost very badly) seeking to make it back to high political office.
Even Reagan won some of this backing - and sympathy - when he went all out for the presidency once again in 1980 after having been rejected by his party in 1976.
And now John Sears, Reagan's long-time political tactician, is underscoring that there would be a certain amount of logic in the return (and comeback effort) of Gerald Ford if, for some reason, Reagan decides that he will not run again.
Sears, who has not turned away from Reagan despite his removal from the Reagan campaign camp in 1980, does believe that the President will run again. He sees Reagan as one who continues to evaluate his life in terms of acting - one who after playing the nice-guy-who-doesn't-get-the-girl so often in Hollywood particularly relishes the star role he has here in Washington. Thus, says Sears, Reagan will doubtless hang on to that stardom simply because he so thoroughly enjoys the part.
Sears, too, thinks Reagan should run because of his powerful hold on Republicans generally - and that probably almost any other candidate would have to deal with a badly fractured party.
Ford, of course, could be the one exception. As Sears pointed out to reporters the other day, Ford is the one person other than Reagan who possesses the ability to bring unity to the party.
Would Ford be willing? Yes, Ford is hale, hearty, and willing to run - if the conditions are right. He has told me this on several occasions. Moreover, Reagan would look kindly on another Ford try at the presidency - should he indeed decide to take life a little easier. He recalls with gratitude Ford's stump performance on his behalf in 1980.
Also, Ford would be on the comeback trail. That alone could win him a lot of sympathy and votes.