The Primary Is Finally Over: Now What?

Finally? Yes, finally. Not a trick? No trick. Over? Yes. Over. It is once again safe for the faint of heart to come out from under the covers. The battle royale is done and the shrapnel has been kept to a minimum. At long last, the bedraggled Democrats have come to the blessed end of their perpetual primary pursuit. Not the beginning of the end. Nor the almost near middle of the end, but the very end end. The butt end. The last millimeter of moldy hair on the bulbous pimple on the butt end of the end end. An end officially signaled by the reluctant arrival of Hillary Clinton at the sequestered gate of Acceptance.

Acceptance. The final state of grief which has been attained only after an unseemly amount of time spent lounging with her old man on the porch swing at the House of Denial. And a couple of not so brief forays to the double-wide Recreational Vehicle of Anger and Depression. Then some boilermakers and cigars back at Denial House. And don't forget that quickie in the Vice Presidential Suite of the Bargaining Motel. But now the cloak of Acquiescence has been thrown over her shoulders by members of her own staff, while the Democratic Tactless Squad wraps Bill in the Shut- the Hell- Up Sheet while beating him across the head and shoulders with rolled up copies of the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

Say what you will about Hillary, the woman does not give up easily. She possesses the stick-to-itiveness of an emaciated tick. She's like one of those Japanese soldiers who emerges from an island cave thirty years after the war is over. Not knowing that she lost and having learned nothing except how to subsist on a diet of bark and moss. But she saved her finest hour for the curtain call. Brilliant exit strategy. Gave the best speech of your life in the process of bowing out. Terrific timing. Next time, she might want to write the good speech for the opening or during the campaign instead of the close.

But now its time to move on. Since he's clinched the nomination, Barack Obama has also assumed the responsibility of unifying the Democratic Party, a task to which we all wish him luck. Unifying Democrats is like trying to herd a clew of worms over a chicken wire walkway onto an electric waffle iron. Like nailing lime Jell- O with carrot shreds to a tree. Reconstituting the original ingredients of a bouillabaisse. Unburning a bridge. The good news is the Democrats have gotten their ducks all in a row. The bad news it's closing in on duck season and Dick Cheney is reaching for his blaze orange hat.

The Dems are fond of calling themselves the party of the big tent, which is all well and good, but you know what else they hold in big tents? Oriental rug sales. Used car clearances. And circuses. And as the newly installed ringleader, Mr. Obama is going to need to find himself a really big chair and an awfully long whip to control the political menagerie that will be encircling him. And something bright and shiny to keep the paying customers focused on the center ring and not the eternally attendant freak show. And cotton candy is always nice.

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