Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Can Democrats Play Nice?

Wise old heads are urging Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to cool it from here to November.

In a New York Times OpEd, George McGovern recalls the nastiness that let Richard Nixon slip between his party's cracks:

"In 1968, we Democrats tipped the election to the Republicans and defeated our able nominee, Hubert Humphrey, by splitting our party wide open over the war in Vietnam.

"That year, after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, his staff talked me into running for the nomination and taking over his delegates. At the convention in Chicago, after Vice President Humphrey won the nomination, one of my fellow candidates, Eugene McCarthy, perhaps understandably, refused even to stand next to him on the convention stage in a show of unity. I believe that our party’s divisions cost us our chance to prevent Richard Nixon, who at that time had been out of office for eight years, from ever becoming president."

After today’s West Virginia primary, McGovern suggests that Obama and Clinton make joint visits to the five remaining locales, "agree not to criticize each other," and then attend "a reception where citizens paying $50 a ticket would mingle with the two candidates" to raise money for local and state candidates in the fall elections.

In the Washington Post, veteran columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. proposes Hillary Clinton take on a new role as "a stronger and more independent figure" by not letting supporters corner Obama about handing her the vice-presidency but let him heal the Democratic breach by choosing one of her supporters, Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio, Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell or Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh.

After her victory lap in West Viriginia tonight, Clinton and Obama will be under a lot more pressure to play nice. It would be heartening to see them do that.

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