William F. Buckley

The animal spirits got so hot that before long, Barack was taking on not only Mrs. Clinton but Mr. Clinton. "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes," he said, charging that Bill Clinton had done as much as his wife to distort Obama's views and record. At several points, Obama used the phrase "Senator Clinton and President Clinton."

Well, one of the two stands a very good chance of becoming president. And it can only be said with confidence about their current contentions that not a correction will be made, in 2009, when their differences will be taken as simple campaign oratory. That is how, after the 1940 election, Wendell Willkie characterized his observations about FDR, whom, during the campaign, he had said should be handcuffed, sent to Sing Sing, and deprived of bread and water.

All told, it seems a pretty conventional modern contest for power between candidates who wish to exceed each other in promises made to the voters. "Health care should be universal," said Hillary. Obama might have answered, "Success in the stock market should be universal." But there isn't anything a president can do to secure that, so if Obama wins, he'll have to settle for providing health care for Dow Jones.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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