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Endless but revealing primaries

The long Democratic race may have fatigued American voters, but it has had its benefits.

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The Democrats' presidential contest resembles the movie "Groundhog Day." You wake up the morning after each contest, and little has changed. One candidate's up, the other down, while each retains the same supporters, and Barack Obama leads by a nose. Shouldn't this be over by now?

Polls show that a majority of voters – of all stripes – say the Democratic primary has gone on too long. Let's call it a wrap!

Yet the grinding contest has had its surprising and necessary benefits. Americans have now seen both candidates deal with adversity before one of them gets hit by the GOP machine. That wouldn't have been possible had Hillary Clinton swept Super Tuesday back in February, or had Mr. Obama kept up his 11-straight victories.

The longer the race has gone on, the clearer the picture of the candidates' managerial styles and character became, though sadly, the discussion of important issues diminished.

Americans already knew Mrs. Clinton had mettle. They saw it when she was first lady, and if they were paying attention, in her Senate career, too. But it's quite another thing to bounce from the ropes as a presidential candidate.

This week Obama had his turn at a comeback. He won North Carolina handily, and lost to Clinton in Indiana by just two percentage points. His strategy was to face head-on the two big charges against him – that he's elitist and not patriotic enough. He publicly divorced himself from his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and adjusted his campaign message and style to remind people of the humble chapters in his story.

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