If politics could be measured on a Richter scale, the election of Harris Wofford to the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania on Tuesday would register a 10.
Make no mistake that the earth-movement was felt all the way to the lawn of the White House. President Bush knew what was to come when he hurriedly announced on Tuesday afternoon, before the Pennsylvania polls had closed, that he was canceling his long-scheduled trip to Asia and Australia. Having read the exit polls, the president knew for all his spectacular success as a world-class leader, middle America was fed up with his standing in the receiving line for foreign dignitaries while one in 10 Americans was standing in the receiving line for food stamps.
But the Wofford election carries a symbolism that goes far beyond the anxieties of the moment. Here was a dignified, reassuring college president with no experience in elective politics, who was born in the roaring '20s which now so resemble the roaring '80s, who spent his childhood under FDR during the Depression of the '30s, who as a teen-ager saw "the Good War" won in the '40s, who got his education in the '50s, who bought into the idealism of John F. Kennedy in helping to found the Peace Corps in the '60s, who became the first male president of Bryn Mawr, a women's college, in the '70s.