Jim Geraghty is breathing easier this week:
Anybody else feel like a ten-ton weight has been lifted from his shoulders? Anybody else feel like every muscle had been tensed and clenched for about two months, and a steadily increasing vice-like pressure had been squeezing him, day by day, as the election approached? Just me? Boy, since that last debate, I just wanted the race to end. Just vote and get it over with.
And we’ve endured a lot during this campaign. Attack ads that will rip out your heart and scald your eyes. Large groups of hairy, under-employed, bandana-clad reprobates marching around carrying signs equating the president with Hitler. A new political documentary at the “independent” theater up the street every weekend. Every single B-list comedian, aging rocker, and hitless actor (*cough*Affleck*cough*) believing that he was the greatest political thinker since John Locke. I’m sorry, Linda Ronstadt: You’re a wonderful singer, but if I ever need your assessment of the Kyoto treaty, I’ll call and ask.
The two parties have to change their primary schedule for 2008. This campaign has been going full throttle since last fall, and our nation wasn’t built for 16-month campaigns. You end up with a stunning scoop a day that ends up being completely forgotten.
For example, do you even remember that people once wondered about the impact of the Kitty Kelley book? Or Washington’s being shook to its foundation by revelations from Paul O’Neill? Remember when Joe Wilson was somebody to take seriously? Or Richard Clarke? Remember when Richard Clarke was thought to be someone who could swing this election?
Would you believe Wes Clark was once considered a serious contender for his party’s nomination? Howard Dean? John Edwards’s obsession with “regular people”? The presidential campaign of Bob Graham? Really, he was in it. Remember when the Internet was going to power Howard Dean to the nomination? Remember the obsession with John McCain running as an independent? Does any part of the Democratic Convention ring a bell beyond that hammy salute?
Why was everybody on edge from the moment Kerry got the nomination and that first, silly 37-percent-Democrat/24-percent Republican Los Angeles Times poll?
Because this election mattered. I think Al Gore called 2000 the most important election of our lifetimes