As Hillary Clinton revives a campaign that looked dead as a doornail only seven days ago - the woman has unbelievable survival instincts - you could forgive some Democratic partisans from getting a little worried.
It's true that a thrilling political race like the Obama-Clinton confrontation could keep Americans attuned to the Democrats while Republican nominee John McCain languishes on the sidelines. But other bad things could happen, too.
Just cast your mind back to the 1968 run-up to the Democtratic convention in Chicago. The war in Viet Nam was raging, Eugene McCarthy was battling for the nomination so he could end the war, radicals were in the streets and the Democrats were profoundly divided. During the convention, which like this year began without a nominee already in place, Chicago mayor Richard Daley sent out his cops to beat up demonstrators and the divisions deepened.
By the time Hubert Humphrey won the nomination, progressive democrats were so alienated, they stayed away from the polling booths in droves, or as friends of mine said to me so passionately, "I'll cut off my right arm before I'll vote for Hubert Humphrey."
Thing is, Humphrey was a heroic liberal with an awesome track record, fighting for such as things as civil rights, arms control, a nuclear test ban, food stamps and humanitarian foreign aid. And don't forget who Americans got for their new president that year: Richard freakin' Nixon.You could look at this two ways. You could say, given such history, that Clinton should just bow out and get behind Barack Obama. Clinton supporters would say it's Obama who should bow out and step in next time.
Either way, it would be smart for both candidates to start pumping the Democratic Party and demonstrating how, in a national campaign, they would attempt to beat the Republicans. In particular, it's time for Obama to stop insisting that his support group won't go to Clinton if she wins. Instead, while he's getting all these young newbie voters to flock to his campaign, he has to stop doing his pop star thing and start talking about why it's the party, not the person, that matters.
If he does that kind of political education, his support group won't melt away come next November, should Clinton secure the nomination. And progressives can enjoy the Democratic race without worrying that John McCain will be the biggest winner sbecause the Democrats just can't get along.
Also: The campaign poster for McCarthy resembles this. On purpose?