Indiana Jones never served up a cliffhanger like this. I was SO looking forward to the Ohio/Texas/Vermont/Rhode Island results offering clarity and direction for the road ahead. Unfortunately, it’s the other guys who wound up with all that. The head that will wear the Republican crown this summer is a lock. They’re the ones who can start packing and checking the weather forecasts for the big journey upcoming. We Democrats, on the other hand, remain stuck, as though we’re still trying to figure out how to work the new GPS doohickey and install it in the car.
I never thought that too much of a good thing would become so problematic. The Democratic Party’s biggest conundrum from the beginning was a banquet table about to collapse under the weight of a sumptuous feast. From the outset, all of our candidates were superb, engaging, uplifting, enterprising, and far more appetizing than any of the clowns the GOP was offering (unless, of course, you happen to like flip-floppers, Flat-Earthers, and middle-aged-to-old guys with somewhat disturbing testosterone issues).
If in your deepest, darkest, and screwiest hallucinations you happened to like the job George W. Bush has done, you had your choice of a grimly monochromatic phalanx of wannabes all vowing to go him one better. We Dems enjoyed an embarrassment of riches while the Repubs could only offer a wealth of embarrassments. We had a stage crowded with Kelly Clarksons and Carrie Underwoods. The opposition tried to sell us wall-to-wall William Hungs and Sanjayas.
So, a no-brainer, ‘eh?
It’s not turning out that way.
The Republicans can now “surge” – or “escalate,” if you prefer – directly into convention season and then onward toward November with John McCain, who’ll probably announce his running mate any minute now. He’ll have traveled halfway around the world while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are each still suiting up.
I’ll probably get slammed for this, but I think short of King Solomon’s storied solution for the problem of the two moms and the one baby, we Democrats may have to consult a “how-to” book on handling unruly toddlers. When my kids were very young, and they devolved into those typical tugs-of-war over a toy, a TV show, or the last chocolate chip cookie, my solution was simple. “If you guys can’t work it out, then NOBODY gets it.” Sometimes in my wilder fantasies, I imagine the ongoing wars over Jerusalem being settled in much the same way. Democrats might just be forced to consider a similar solution here.
This particular dilemma with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remaining so evenly matched presents us with a couple of possibilities.
One would involve the two of them laying down their arms and partnering on the ticket. Looks fabulous on paper. It’s already being spoken about as a dream ticket. And it could well be that, were it not for the nightmares that WILL ensue as the fight shifts to who’ll be on top of that ticket. That level of discord is not terribly far removed from where we are already. We would still be slogging through the “if you guys can’t work it out…” part.
The other option is the “…then NOBODY gets it” part, at least as far as the top of the ticket is concerned. It may be time to lean HARD on Al Gore. He could be the Great Uniter we’ve all yearned for ever since the alleged “uniter” who stole the election from him eight long years ago turned into the most divisive president in American history. Gore has already been thoroughly vetted, he’s already proven that he can win, he’s already proven – many times over by now – how well-equipped and worthy he is of the job he actually won and was denied. He’s been the 800-pound gorilla haunting the Oval Office since January, 2001. His is still the mightiest claim of all. We could then, presumably, settle on a running mate between Barack and Hillary.
Then again, that may be asking too much. While I think Al Gore might ultimately be willing (or might be pressured) to become that good man who comes to the aid of his party, especially if the Clinton/Obama prize fight drags on, there’s still the matter of those two aforementioned prize fighters. Who knows when they could be pushed to reach a compromise? Besides, in this case, only one would come out with anything close to a win. After all, there is only one opening, not two, for a vice president. The other would walk away empty-handed, leaving roughly half the party deeply – maybe irreparably disappointed and discouraged.
It appears that our way forward as Democrats will be through the political battlefield, regardless. I’m just longing for a shortcut. We really need to end this without further delay. Now. Straight away. Before we waste any more time, money, energy, or enthusiasm. We need to unite as a party – sooner rather than later. Hillary Clinton already broached the subject on the CBS “Early Show” on the morning after this week’s “Mini-Super Tuesday.”
If half of us take our lumps now, and accept our favorite’s position as VP instead of the top of the ticket, perhaps there’ll be enough time for the wounds to heal before we get to convention season, avoiding a long slow bleed to death as a party. Unlike the first scenario, with this one both sides would have something to show for it, and both would remain standing at the end. Remember, Jennifer Hudson and Clay Aiken may not have won “American Idol,” but they wound up doing just fine, thank you. So did Al Gore, for that matter.
The rest of us would have all spring and summer to regroup and form the united front we desperately need to assemble for November. Just as bickering children require a time-out to allow the infernos to subside, so, too, with the rest of us. And either way, we’ll still make history.
We’re going to have to face this eventually anyway. It seems to me the time has come for us to consult our inner King Solomons. Let’s do it NOW, and get it over with. There’s a much bigger battle ahead that we have to be ready and able to win. For all of us.
Mary Lyon is a veteran broadcaster ad five-time Golden Mike Award winner, who has anchored, reported, and written for the Associated Press Radio Network, NBC Radio “The Source,” and many Los Angeles-area stations including KRTH-FM/AM, KLOS-FM, KFWB-AM, and KTLA-TV, and occasional media analyst for ABC Radio News. She began her career as a liberal activist with the Student Coalition for Humphrey/Muskie in 1968, and helped spearhead a regional campaign, “The Power 18,” to win the right to vote for 18-year-olds. She remains an advocate for liberal causes, responsibility and accountability in media, environmental education and support of the arts for children, and green living. In addition to OpEdNews, Mary writes for Democrats.us, World News Trust, and WeDemocrats.org’s “We! The People” webzine. Mary is also a parenting expert, having written and illustrated the book “The Frazzled Working Woman’s Practical Guide to Motherhood.”
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