Stump the ex-editor

Andrés Martinez, the former LAT editorial page editor, has teamed up with the Washington Post website on a twice-weekly online political advice column. (His former deputy in Los Angeles, Michael Newman, is now opinions editor at the Post site.) The first entry at Stumped went up at midnight D.C. time:

Q: I am a Democrat and really like Hillary. But I think she has no chance to win in the general election. Trouble is, I don't like anyone else in the Democratic field. What to do?

A: The beauty of the mating game at hand is that none of these candidates will turn down your love. The question is whether any of the other Democratic candidates -- the ones who aren't Hillary -- is more likely to win the general election, in your view. If the answer is no, no dilemma: Hillary's your girl. If the answer is yes, you are in a pickle, one long familiar to primary voters (there is a reason Nixon clobbered Hubert Humphrey, instead of Eugene McCarthy, in 1968).

Lucky for you, there is a tidy, scientific "pragmatic voting" formula to resolve your quandary: Assign a number from 1 to 10 to the following variables:
a) How good a president will a candidate be.
b) The entertainment value of Bill Clinton as first gentleman.
c) The chances of the candidate prevailing (as a percentile) in general election.
d) How good a president the Republican nominee would be.

Then plug those numbers, for both Hillary and her Democratic opponent you consider most electable, into this complex and highly scientific formula:


OK? Finally, compare this number to (d) -- just to make sure you aren't a closet Republican! -- and go with the highest number.

Curiously, though you haven't come around, polls now show many Democratic voters who might have been inclined to support a more stridently antiwar candidate gravitating toward Hillary as the sensible "win at all costs" choice. It's the ultimate tribute to the Clinton juggernaut: she has become the pragmatic choice for many Dems. Maybe you should jump on this bandwagon now, and worry about aligning your heart and mind later.

Martinez tells readers, by way of introduction: "I'm sometimes stumped when it comes to thorny political calls. (I'm still not sure I made the right call in my first presidential primary: Gore or Babbitt?) But I find that political quandaries are a lot like personal problems: It's far easier to resolve someone else's than your own....No issue is too cosmic or too trivial; I'm equally happy debating globalization or dishing on candidates' haircuts. I can't -- and won't -- tell you how to vote, but I'll get you unstumped ... or your money back."

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