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Alan Grayson 2012? Susan Sarandon 2012?

Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post over the weekend, calling for a progressive candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

Ignoring the fact that an elected Democratic president has not been denied a chance at a second term since James Buchanan routed Franklin Pierce back in 1856 and that Obama remains very popular among Democrats, Lerner presents a possible list of candidates including one Democrat from the Sunshine State -- outgoing U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson who was tossed out by Florida voters in favor of Republican Dan Webster.

Public officials who would make excellent candidates should they run on this platform include Sens. Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Mikulski or Al Franken; Reps. Joe Sestak, Maxine Waters, Raul Grijalva, Alan Grayson, Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Lois Capps, Jim Moran and Lynn Woolsey, wrote Lerner. Others include Jim McGovern, Marcy Kaptur, Jim McDermott or John Conyers. We should also consider popular figures outside of government. How about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.? Why not Rachel Maddow, Bill Moyers, Susan Sarandon or the Rev. James Forbes? All suggestions need to be part of this critical conversation. What's clear is that we need such a candidate, and the finances to back her or him, very soon.

What? Susan Sarandon was included but not Warren Beatty? If Teddy Kennedy couldnt knock off Jimmy Carter in 1980, I fail to see how anyone on this list of candidates could get out of New Hampshire. While Obama may be vulnerable in 2012, hes a very safe bet to win the Democratic nomination again.

Lerner argues that a progressive challenge could help Obama win another term. Kind of like how Pat Buchanan helped George Bush win another term in 1992. And like how Teddy Kennedy and Jerry Brown helped Carter in 1980. And like how Ronald Reagan helped Gerald Ford in 1976. And like how Teddy Roosevelt helped William Howard Taft win another term in 1912. And like how James G. Blaine helped Benjamin Harrison win another term in 1892. There's a pattern here -- a president who faces a challenge for his party's nomination will usually lose come November.

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