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September 20, 2017

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McCain stands above the fray

John McCain must be smiling as Hillary Clinton claws away at Barack Obama's all but insurmountable delegate and popular vote lead in the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. No doubt Republican strategists dream that each passing day will bring their unlikely nominee one day closer to a stunning upset in the November general election. Party bigwigs who thought the McCain candidacy was dead at the beginning of the year and probably did not want him as their nominee now can talk about McCain becoming President of the United States without being called crazy.

Unlike the Democrats, McCain can actually draw attention to his policies, rather than to bickering. During the past week, he has made a mark as traveling statesman and war strategist, while the Democratic battleground looks more like Daniel in the Lion's den. For the media, news on the Democrats' front is the Clinton-Obama clash, and how they fight it has become far more important than what they stand for. Their great debate is not over the best way to stem the rising tide of foreclosures that threatens the whole financial system in the United States. Instead, we are drawn into endless speculation over how much harm Clinton's fight to the finish will do to the Democrats in the general election.

The optimists among Democrats would like to believe that all Democrats want to win the White House so badly that they will unite behind their nominee no matter how bruising the primary battles. History suggests otherwise, that losers often vote against their own best interests out of spite.

Cynics go so far as to suggest that Clinton knows it would take a miracle for her to win the nomination; barring victory she would so bloody Obama that he will lose to McCain in November, and she can have the Democratic nomination for the asking in 2012. Although polls and pollsters should be taken with a large dose of salt, the latest sampling suggests that fully 29 percent of Clinton supporters would not vote for Obama for President, lending some credence to the cynics' argument.

The one thing that is certain in all this bickering is that the Democrats are doing the Republican election strategists' job for them. They are passing general election campaign ammunition to the McCain camp on a silver platter. Take some of the Clinton campaign's sniper fire as examples of useful Republican themes: Clinton says Obama is less qualified to be commander-in-chief than his Republican opponent; Obama is talk, not solutions; he won't disown the vitriolic preacher who hates America. Then there is Bill Clinton, who early on tried to paint Obama as the black candidate, and now is widely viewed as insinuating that Obama is not a loyal American.

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