WASHINGTON -- With the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination charging each other with racial bigotry, I think it is safe to observe that 2008 will not be a progressive year in the Democratic Party. Increasingly the Clinton campaign puts me in mind of presidential campaigns waged by the late segregationist George Wallace. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton even has Wallace's surly style. Yet Wallace rarely was accused of lying. Hillary is caught lying every few days, and the lies are not even as clever as those of her mendacious husband, the sex maniac. Of course, when the fur ceases to fly over these racial charges, I think it will be clear that Hillary is not nearly the bigot Wallace was, but neither is she as nice a person. I cannot think of one of Gov. Wallace's household pets disappearing under mysterious circumstances.
Moving over to the Republican race, none of the candidates has yet to charge another with racial bigotry. None has done oppositional research on an opponent's kindergarten records. And none has been caught raising campaign funds through a Chop Suey Connection. Yet we repeatedly have heard the ugly charge of flip-floppery flung about wantonly, and it is not a reference to casual footwear but to casual dissembling on issues. In fact, every candidate still in the Republican race has been accused of flip-floppery -- occasionally using multiple feet.
Thus far, the 2008 campaign in both parties is very unsatisfactory. Something is missing, and, as I see it, that something is dignity. At this stage, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama come closest to displaying dignity; but even they fall short, owing to the environment in which they must operate, an environment shaped by a prima donna electorate and a press that encourages soap opera. Both are the consequence of idiotic state caucuses or state primaries, inflated into circuses by enormous sums of money, and all lacking in party discipline. It is time to return to nominating presidential candidates in national political conventions, the same kind of conventions that gave us Roosevelts and Eisenhower and the 1960 race between Kennedy and Nixon -- a very classy affair compared to today's infantile confrontations.
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