Bill Murchison

Anybody want to review the bidding on the presidential race?

All right, then, let's see. Hillary leads Barack in the polls, though he's been raising all this cash online, and John Edwards wants to raise taxes. As for the Republicans, McCain is fading, and people are debating whether America is ready for a Mormon president, while Fred Thompson looks like the great conservative hope, though Giuliani is gaining some traction with the right, and, hey, how about that YouTube debate, and and Operator, might I please have a 5 a.m. wakeup call, somewhere around Labor Day 2008, meanwhile zzzzzzzzzzzz, awk, zzzzzzz.

I try, I really do, to stay awake and look excited. The 2008 presidential contest -- which could be one of the most important in the past 50 years, given the stakes for American foreign policy and homeland security -- has lasted longer than the wait for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." "Deathly," in fact, describes the race with some acuity.

Campaigns go on too long these days. That's the nub of the matter. We're never not wondering who's pulling ahead of whom in the polls, and what it means for Our Future as a People. Not for more than three months will it be one full year until the voting! Yet the candidates lunge and parry, and the media scribble down all they see for our delectation and edification.

Edification, my hind foot! I make bold to suggest that the phenomenon of the endless presidential campaign is one of the unhealthier developments in our polity. We shouldn't have to think about politics and politicians this much. The politicians shouldn't oblige us to do so.

Money is (of course!) near the heart of the problem, but even nearer that vital organ is ego -- the quest for personal fulfillment through the dramatic rescue of an imperiled nation. Supposedly.

Look at some of these people. What does Hillary Clinton bring as it were to the table save a passion -- one her husband indulges with comparable gusto -- for submitting her underside to be tickled and her ears rubbed by the voters? What's the Hillary program for rescuing America? Durned if one can tell, apart from the static enumeration of bills she'd enjoy signing if they were passed. What's she doing this for? Why?

Concerning the lesser candidates you could ask the same question in spades. I cannot see that the nation hungers for the presidential services of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson or of Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Each has appealing characteristics. Each faces insurmountable hurdles given the vast cost of running for office -- the daily need to be dialing for dollars and picking pockets.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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