Paul Greenberg

Now it's on Indiana. And North Carolina. And Oregon. And... all the way to Denver late in August? The votes are in from the Keystone State: Hillary Clinton, the once - and future? - Inevitable Nominee now has scored a solid but scarcely decisive victory over another formerly Inevitable Nominee. So the race to mutual exhaustion goes on.

By winning convincingly in Pennsylvania, Senator/Mrs./Comeback Kid Clinton has not won the nomination but the chance to keep on fighting, fighting, fighting for it. Once again she's stopped the Charisma Kid in his well-oiled tracks - but without taking a clear lead herself.

All along, Hillary! has been claiming that Barack Obama was an unknown quality. She said he hadn't been vetted, as the political consultants put it in their awful lingo, the way she has been forever and ever - and don't we know it! Miss Hillary has been vetted so long, to lapse into the colloquial, she's been mighty nigh ruint. Or as the pollsters would say in their grating way, she's got the highest negatives of the three still-standing presidential candidates.

Sen./Tigress Clinton has set out to do the vetting of her Democratic opponent herself - vet him to shreds if she can. And primary after primary, with more than a little help from her rival's miscues, she's succeeding - not necessarily in winning her party's presidential nomination but in seeing to it that, by the time her opponent does, he'll be damaged goods.

This is a Democratic donnybrook only a Republican could love. At one point Hillary Clinton claimed that she and, yes, John McCain were the only candidates in this three-cornered bout that the American people could trust to answer that famous red phone at 3 a.m. As a Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Clinton delivers a pretty good commercial for the Republican one.

What a show. At this wild and woolly point, the campaign for the Democratic nomination has got all the subtlety of the WWE, the delicacy of the NFL, and the refinement of NASCAR. That is, none at all.

Rome had its bread and circuses; this our new Rome has presidential elections. To quote Finley Peter Dooley's sage Irish barkeep and doctor of philosophy, the great Mister Dooley himself, politics ain't beanbag. Of course it isn't; it lacks beanbag's intellectual honesty.

The ever-quotable Mr. Mencken once said nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public, or multisyllabic words to that effect. A cynic could as well say that nobody ever lost a presidential race that way, either.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.