WASHINGTON -- This has not been a good week to be a Democrat.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the most prominent Democratic governor in the country, who built his reputation on prosecuting the crooks on Wall Street, has been caught patronizing high-priced call girls in a prostitution ring.
Spitzer, a holier-than-thou force against wrongdoing, has become this year's poster boy for hypocrisy, arrogance and moral turpitude -- not the public image that Democrats want in the middle of their election-year campaign to portray the Republicans as mired in a "culture of corruption."
The timing of all this hurts them, too. The stunning revelations about the governor have effectively wiped the Democratic presidential race off much of the nation's front pages just as it is moving toward the home stretch.
In the meantime, Hillary Clinton, once a seemingly unstoppable force for the presidency, now seems incapable of catching up to Sen. Barack Obama, who is more than 100 delegates ahead of her in the nominating race.
Sadly, she and her husband, Bill Clinton, are making desperate claims that don't hold up to even minimal scrutiny, making both of them look, well, silly.
The former president has been suggesting that his wife and Obama can settle their differences if he would agree to be her running mate -- an idea the freshman senator so effectively ridiculed that it became the laughing stock of the campaign.
He has won more primaries than her, received more votes and accumulated more delegates, said Obama on Monday, campaigning in Mississippi.
"So I don't know how somebody who's in second place is offering the vice presidency to somebody who's in first place," he said to the delight of the crowd at Mississippi University for Women.
And Obama was just getting started with a stand-up act that was better than anything seen on "Saturday Night Live" lately. Hillary Clinton has been running around the country saying that Obama was not ready to be president, a charge that will no doubt be at the core of John McCain's campaign if Obama is his opponent in the general election.
But he told his audience, "I don't understand. If I'm not ready, how is it you think I would be such a great vice president?"
He enjoyed quoting Bill Clinton, saying in his 1992 campaign that the critical criterion for a vice president was "someone who would be a good president, if, God forbid, something happened to me a week after I took office."
The Clinton campaign seemed to be losing its pitch, throwing softballs with little force or strategic thought behind them, while Obama was slugging them over the fence.