Local Commentary

Our Man In Arlington

As most of you know, I define myself as a “yellow dog” Democrat. The term has a murky history, but generally means that I would vote for any Democrat, even if it was a yellow dog. (I have occasionally voted Republican, but that is another story.)

To all Americans, but especially to all of us yellow dogs, this year’s presidential election is the most important in at least forty years, and perhaps longer. Some serious students of the American political process see it as presaging a major generational shift in political behavior. More important, it is essential that this country make a complete change in the leadership of this country because the current leadership has been almost disastrous in the major elements of both our domestic and foreign policies.

This means not just a new president, which we are going to get anyway, but a complete change in major policy makers and advisors. This can only come with a shift in the party controlling both our executive and the legislative branches. That has happened in Congress. Only the executive branch remains.

The Democrats began the election season (two or three years ago, it seems) with almost every candidate eminently qualified to be president. The two who remain could each become one of the most effective leaders we have ever had and promise the real possibility that America’s domestic and international slide could be reversed. Both could usher in a positive new epoch for America.

But both are now involved in a race that is spiraling ever downward to mutual destruction where the only winner will be John McCain and the Republican Party.

And while we Democrats are rapidly destroying our chance to win in November, John McCain is building his campaign both organizationally and financially and is successfully beginning to position himself to pick up the pieces of the Democratic debacle

I wish I knew what could be done. The logical thing is to have Hilary Clinton drop out of the race and throw her wholehearted support to Obama, and many are urging her to do this. Frankly, though, I probably would not do that if I were Hilary – at least not before the Pennsylvania primary. In an ordinary contest, she would still be very much in the race, with a real, if diminishing, chance that she might win.

Or the candidates could agree to stop the very negative campaigning in which they and their staffs are engaged. Concentrate on John McCain, not each other, if they have an unfulfilled need to sling mud. Somehow, I don’t have much confidence that the candidates will do that either.

I have many Democratic friends in both camps who disagree with my pessimism. While they are not pleased with much of the negative campaigning, they point to the massive interest both have generated and the horde of new voters they have brought into the system, voters whom they are convinced will coalesce enthusiastically and effective behind the nominee who emerges from the convention.

I fervently hope they are right. But I am still very nervous.