John McCain has the Republican presidential nomination in his pocket, and we can expect him to step back and observe what is happening in American politics for a while. He will be quizzed, as he should be, on given issues, but he no longer has to concern himself about debates and whistle-stops despite the fact he must keep raising a lot of money.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton staged a notable comeback against Barack Obama with her primary victories in Texas and Ohio. A potential early victory for Obama no longer is in sight, and the next big challenge for both will be in Pennsylvania.
Clinton has attempted to display a softer and gentler side of late, and Obama has mostly maintained his positive demeanor. But this could all change in the next seven weeks or so. The Clinton camp is noted for its ability to get tough in demanding times and is not likely to spare any reasonable means of undercutting Obama. This certainly was the case the past two weeks, and the national media help in the timely Clinton surge.
Hillary Clinton and husband Bill not so long ago figured her nomination was a shoo-in. The couple got a number of severe jolts to their confidence, and they still have a long way to travel for Hillary to get the 2008 nomination. They will come out fighting, and it may not always be pretty.
Obama has projected a nice-guy persona and declared he will do all he can to avoid negativity. It remains to be seen, however, if he and his aides can maintain that approach if the Clintons come after Obama as hard as they are likely to.
There is sure to be pain in all this, even though so many pundits declare how wonderful it is that so many people are interested and involved in the electoral process. We're looking at eight more months of haranguing, charging and counter-charging. Then, if and when the Democrats decide on their standard-bearer, another "war" of sorts will flare when the Republicans with McCain swing into action to win the White House.
It would be great if the coming campaign focused on issues and declarations rather than dirty tricks and personal attacks. Unfortunately, we're likely to face a lot of frustrating, even disturbing, behavior by our politicians between now and November.
When will we all realize that the time is now to declare drastically shortened campaign periods and set limits on the amounts of money that can be used?