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Super Tuesday Primaries...

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               THE CONSERVATIVE REVIEW   
                   February 8, 2008
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Super Tuesday Primaries and a Presumptive Nominee
By George Will

LOS ANGELES - Forewarned, Democrats now are forearmed -- 
not that they will necessarily make sensible use of the 
gift. Tuesday's voting armed Democratic voters with the 
name of the candidate that their nominee will face in the 
fall. Will their purblind party now nominate the most 
polarizing person in contemporary politics, knowing that 
Republicans will nominate the person who tries to 
compensate for his weakness among conservatives with his 
strength among independent voters who are crucial to 
winning the White House? 

Perhaps. The Republican Party's not-so-secret weapon 
always is the Democratic Party, with its entertaining 
thirst for living dangerously. 

John McCain has become the presumptive nominee of the 
conservative party without winning majority support of 
conservatives. According to exit polls, he lost them 
Tuesday to Mitt Romney in his home state of Arizona, 
43-40. He lost them in that day's biggest battleground, 
California, 43-35. 

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The surest way to unify the Republican Party, however, is 
for Democrats to nominate Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama, 
the foundation of whose candidacy is his early opposition 
to the war in Iraq, would be a more interesting contrast 
to the candidate who is trying to become the oldest person 
ever elected to a first presidential term, and who almost 
promises a war with Iran ("There is only one thing worse 
than military action, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran"). 

Obama's achievements on Tuesday would have been consider-
ed astonishing just two weeks ago, but they have been 
partially discounted because the strength of his ascendancy 
became so apparent in advance. And he would have taken an 
even larger stride toward the nomination were it not for 
a novelty that advanced thinkers have inflicted on the 
political process. 

Once upon a time, in an America now consigned to the 
mists of memory, there was a quaint and, it is now said, 
oppressive custom called Election Day. This great national 
coming together of the public in public polling places, 
this rare communitarian moment in a nation of restless 
individualists, was an exhilarating episode in our civic 
liturgy. Then came, in the name of progress, the plague 
of early voting. 

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In many states, voting extends over weeks, beginning before 
campaigns reach their informative crescendos. This plague 
has been encouraged by people, often Democrats, who insist, 
without much supporting evidence, that it increases voter 
turnout, especially among minorities and workers for whom 
the challenge of getting to polling places on a particular 
day is supposedly too burdensome. 

The plague made many Super Tuesday voters -- those who 
hurried to cast their ballots for John Edwards, Rudy 
Giuliani and other dear departeds -- feel like ninnies, 
which serves them right. On Tuesday, the Democratic Party 
paid a price for early voting, especially in California, 
where more than 2 million votes were cast in the 29 days 
prior to what is anachronistically called Election Day. 
The price was paid by the party's most potentially potent 
nominee, Obama, whose surge became apparent after many 
impatient voters had already rushed to judgment. 

Although Obama lost California to Clinton by 380,000 votes, 
he surely ran much closer in the votes cast on Tuesday, 
after her double-digit lead in polls had evaporated. Had 
he won the third of the three C's -- he won Connecticut, 
where a large portion of voters are in her New York City 
media market, and in Colorado, a red Western state rapidly 
turning purple -- he might now be unstoppable. 

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Evangelical Christians, who in 2006 gave Republicans more 
votes than Democrats received from African-Americans and 
union members combined, wanted to determine the GOP's 
nominee -- and perhaps they have done so. By giving so 
much support to an essentially regional candidate, Mike 
Huckabee, rather than to Mitt Romney, they have opened 
McCain's path to capturing the conservative party without 
capturing conservatives. McCain's Tuesday triumph was based 
in states (New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California) he 
will not carry in November. 

Although Obama is, to say no more, parsimonious with his 
deviations from liberal orthodoxy, he is said to exemplify 
"post-partisan" politics. The same is sometimes said of 
McCain. Five days before Super Tuesday, McCain received 
an important endorsement from California Gov. Arnold 
Schwarzenegger, another supposed practitioner of post-
partisanship, which often looks a lot like liberalism that 
would prefer not to speak its name. Three days before that 
endorsement, the emblem of Schwarzenegger's post-partisan-
ship -- his extremely liberal (lots of mandates and taxes) 
and expensive ($14.9 billion, slightly more than the 
state's current budget deficit) plan for universal health 
care -- died in an 11-member state Senate committee, where 
it got just one vote. 

Perhaps we are seeing the future. It looks familiar. 

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