Sunday, June 8, 2008

June 08, 2008

She said a classy good-bye. Like every other Clinton event (his or hers) I ever covered, it started late--forty minutes or so late. But she made a fine speech, endorsed Obama gracefully and drew lots of applause.

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both made history this past week. He proved that a black man could be the presidential nominee of one of the major parties (I'm grateful to "Meet the Press" for reminding me that Robert Kennedy said back in the 1960s that a black would be nominated within the next forty years); she proved that a woman could. No, she didn't win but she came so close she proved a woman could. If her campaign had, for instance, paid more attention to the caucus states, she probably would have won.

That said, it seems clear that the Democrats need to clean up their nominating act. Caucuses here, primaries there. Texas, always an outsized place, had one of each. Senator Clinton won the primary; Obama won the caucuses, I guess, and came away with one more delegate than she. Caucuses, of course, discriminate against people who have to work in the evening, when they're usually held, or who have little kids and can't leave the house for an hour or two. So, you can make an argument for allowing only primaries. I've always thought a series of regional primaries would be a good idea, with a different region going first in each cycle. But you can argue against that. New Hampshire is a small state and while the primary doesn't bring as much money into it as fall foliage or skiing, it brings a lot every four years. Clearly the current system can be improved. Your six year-old could probably improve it, in fact.

So now the main event begins with two very different men slugging it out. John McCain is aged, has a military background with a hero's biography, and doesn't seem to know much about the economy. Barack Obama is young, trails some rock star glamour, though that's ebbed a bit lately, and probably knows next to nothing about war.

McCain has suggested ten town hall debates. That seems like a good idea. More are better than one or two because one gaffe--Gerald Ford's insistence that Poland wasn't part of the Soviet Empire, for instance--wouldn't loom so large. And a format which minimized reporters would be good--maybe one moderator with questions from real people in the audience.

Anyway, something like that. Let the argument begin, please.

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