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Calm Down, Everybody

Kevin Drum has a much-needed rejoinder to those fretting that the ongoing primary campaign will damage the Democratic Party's chances in the fall:

If long, bitter, primary campaigns really destroy parties, then Humphrey should have lost the 1968 election by about 50 points. "Bitter" isn't even within an order of magnitude of describing what happened that year. And yet, even against that blood-soaked background, Humphrey barely lost.

So I say: chill out. Like a lot of people, I'm not very happy about the direction the Democratic campaign has taken, but the idea that it's going to wreck the eventual winner's chances in the fall seems pretty far fetched. It takes more than a few nasty exchanges to do that. And who knows? By keeping Dems in the spotlight, it might even help them. Stranger things have happened.

It's certainly possible that the Democratic campaign will get nastier than it's been, and might produce a few ill-advised soundbites that John McCain will try to use. It might help if party bigwigs (Gore, Pelosi, Dean, Richardson, etc.) got together to take on a more public role as referees, helping iron out disputes like the Michigan/Florida tussle and urging the campaigns to keep it (relatively) civil. But at the end of the day, it just defies belief that a party less ideologically divided than it's been at any time in the past 180 years is going to emerge as anything other than ready and eager for a spirited general-election campaign. I say, sit back and enjoy the historic ride.

--Josh Patashnik