I missed Senator McCain’s speech, which was apparently not one for the clip file, but Senator Obama is reminding us that he is good at what he does. What just ended — one of American history’s truly great nominating contests — was what a close race looks like. The front-runner hit rough patches. The loser in a long slow race looked increasingly awkward and graceless. I think Clinton will look better with a few years’ hindsight than she has in the last month. To me she looks pretty good anyway, a lot better than the chorus of blogyard bullies who kept tut-tutting about how impolitely she was campaigning. She’s been better through it all than most candidates would have been. As long as she doesn’t fight too hard now to be Obama’s running mate. He gets to choose. That’s what winning means.
Obama is a nominee Democrats can support, not only because he presents himself as a practitioner of a “new” politics (about which, I’m sorry, I’m still skeptical; I’ve seen so much new politics in so many races it’s getting pretty old), but because he has proven adept at the cumpulsory figures of the old politics: he can give a speech, he can organize, fight back, rise above, control damage. Politics is a craft before, or it remains one after, it is an art or a calling. Obama, whose speech to the 2004 Democrat convention was unimpressive, has the necessary quality of any craftsman. He learns.
On to November. The easy prediction, always true, is that more surprises lie ahead.