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Super Tuesday: When The Only Options Are Good Ones

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If I could I would vote for both of them.*

Despite following the campaigns in detail since last April and liveblogging almost all of the debates I'm still struggling with who the better Democratic candidate might be -- both of them are just so appealing. Something that was driven farther home for me after last Thursday's debate (the most watched in cable TV history), which was less about issues (we've heard it ALL before) than about personality... and I like both of theirs... a lot. Whoever imagined the Democrats suffering an embarrassment of riches due to their candidates! Not to mention -- and could anyone not mention it -- these two present one hell of a package. Even the tiny bit of figurative and literal daylight between them made that perfectly clear.

Truth be told, since the beginning, my gut has consistently gone with Hillary. Even more so as the campaign has worn on (and on). I admire her hard work. I admire her resilience. I admire her intelligence. Most importantly, at the end of the day, I really do think she would make the better president. But oh, Obama. I am not immune to the idea of Obama. Nor does it escape me what an Obama presidency might say about this country: that we are still capable of big ideas, that despite plenty of evidence to the contrary our best days are not behind us. But I worry about voting an idea into office. I worry about "day one," when the country is recovering from its (years long) political hangover, whether this idea will be enough. You govern in prose, the saying goes, and there is little about Obama that is prosaic. Hillary may bore with details (and she has, I can testify personally to that), but there is no doubt she will be governing (and governing), long after the rest of us have gone back to our post-election lives (if they still exist).

However, election day is a while away yet (this is only Primary day, after all, hysteria aside), and much as I am loath to admit it, I worry about the in-between. I worry about the candidate the next nine months may birth, so to speak. Here's the thing. Should Obama get the nomination either today or in the next few weeks none of us really has any idea what he's in for (including him, one imagines). It has been suggested by many that the GOP mud-slinging machine is not so sure themselves what to do him -- though it's a safe bet that they are fast learners. And one suspects that the South Carolina contentiousness we saw in the Democratic primary will be a mild primer for what would come at Obama when the real race begins (people who swear it was a Muslim madrassa? Old cocaine dealers? Let's not kid ourselves here folks, Karl Rove will not be singing Kumbaya any time soon). Thus far, Obama has had a fairly easy ride where the press is concerned, but in the face of a nomination this will not and cannot continue. Forget about what the four years as president might do to this man, what about the next nine months? The leap of faith that Obama requires goes beyond his lack of experience and extends to all of us hoping that he, and we, have the resilience to shake of whatever swift-boating is headed this way. Something that we all know, in the wake of 2004, is easier said than done.

Now if Hillary gets the nomination, well, we know what's coming... more of the same, and nastier. It's possible the only wild card will be Bill (someone on the Right must already be working up an expose of what he's really been up to in his years since leaving office), though, in a sense that's familiar, too, and furthermore, does anyone really believe that once in office Hillary won't be the one running the show. Here's the other thing, everyone says that the GOP is itching to run against Hillary because, where the Clinton's are concerned, the Right knows exactly what to do and how to do it. But it might be good for all to remember that this cuts both ways. We, too, already know Hillary, or we know her as well as we are ever going to (what other political candidate could inspire a collection similar to "30 Ways of Looking At Hillary"?). And, at this point does anyone doubt that she can take what is thrown at her? It's just this toughness in the face of constant brow-beating and mud-slinging that may, in fact, be the real "experience" she has gleaned from being at the center of the first Clinton White House for so many years. She's already been through the Republican smear machine (more than once) and come out the other side. Whatever gets thrown at her over the next nine months, or the next four years, we can be pretty confident that the woman who emerges from it will be much the same woman who stands before us, like it or not.

Either way it's a gamble. But either way it's a bet I think the Democrats should be proud to take.

*I'm Canadian, so technically I can't vote for has been a serious case of voter envy.

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