Nothing’s certain until it’s official, but…
McCain is looking relatively safe as the Republican nominee, and Obama is gaining something of an upperhand on the Democratic side. These are the two candidates who, from the beginning, have seemed less deeply rooted in partisan absolutism. McCain is under well-publicized attack from the far right for, among other things, cooperating with Democratic senators such as Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold. Obama has written about the need to pull toward the middle, and was criticized during the campaign for acknowledge the role of Republican ideas introduced by Ronald Reagan.
In my opinion, the Obama-McCain pairing bodes well for the country because any tendency toward compromise is woefully needed.
If the matchup holds, however, pressure will increase on both candidates to separate themselves during the general election campaign. That could mean we’ll see a detailed, analytical explanation of competing ideas about health care, national security, foreign policy, education, etc. Or there will be another edition of the standard strategies of attack and distortion.
I suspect the smart money is on the latter. And if that’s the way it goes, what a missed opportunity. Think of it, two presidential candidates spending three or four months engaging the nation in a meaningful conversation about vital public issues — all leading to an informed choice in November.
If that unlikely dream unfolds, I will celebrate the outcome no matter which candidate wins.