The Upside of Anger

Record fund-raising, record turnout, heated on-air debates, and a nation of formerly apathetic voters hanging on Hillary and Barack's every word -- why would the Democrats want their version of top-rated reality TV to end anytime soon? No matter who the Democrats' nominee is -- and no matter if that nominee is declared tomorrow or at the party's convention in August -- that person will doubtless have a ton more loot on hand than Republican nominee John McCain. So why spoil the fun in the name of party unification?

Unify the party now, and you waste months of free front-page media -- which means months of McCain sniping from the sidelines and frustratedly trying to tap uber-conservative wallets that would otherwise be hyper-energized if the right-wing's favorite whipping girl, Clinton, emerged victorious anytime soon. Those old Hagler-Leonard, Ali-Frazier fights were the greatest when they went the distance; stop the fight in the ninth round and nobody gives a shit. If you're a Dem, you'd best hope for a 15-round TKO in Denver that propels the nominee to a landslide victory in a truncated general election cycle mere months later.

The only thing that could sully this scenario is if the Clinton team's strategy turns toxic. She can assail Obama's record (or lack thereof) all she wants between now and Denver, but if she tries to strongarm delegates into defecting or, worse yet, takes to the courts to get Michigan's and Florida's delegates seated, it may turn off voters in the same manner that the Bush-Gore '00 bloodmatch did. If she wins fair and square, there'll still be an opportunity for her and Obama to kiss, make up, and install him at the bottom of the ticket. But if her team ultimately adopts a slash and burn strategy, forget about it -- and Clinton will have a tough time winning in November without Obama as her veep.

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