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The Democratic presidential contenders would do well to stop shooting at each other and take aim at the real opposition.

The Democrats Form a Circular Firing Squad

A circular firing squad. It’s an apt metaphor for the Democratic presidential campaign these days. I never, ever thought we’d be in this position. Although I’ve never been known as a political pessimist (hey, I was rooting for John Kerry way into the night in 2004), I have become one. Only the Democrats could manage to turn this year’s Presidential sure thing into a possible rout. Okay, maybe it’s a bit hyperbolic to say so this early. But I’m beginning to dread the fall.

And who'd have thunk it? A long and costly (and unpopular) war; the unitary executive; the emasculation of Congress; the Supreme Court; an economy that everyone but George in Wonderland perceives as tanking; a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan that promises to erase any gains we may have made prior to Iraq; Blackwater; Halliburton; an army stretched to the brink, with stop-loss orders threatening the lives, livelihoods, and well-being of our veterans; a health care system that is an embarrassment equal only to our loss of our credibility on the international stage. The list goes on. And on. And yet… let me get this right: Clinton and Obama are sniping at each other? Circular firing squad indeed.

The stakes are way too high this year to allow the Republicans to keep the castle… er… White House. Nearly eight years of damage cannot be piled atop another (even) four years of an imperialized Republican executive.

So, here’s my two cents worth (and in this economy, it’s not worth very much). Everyone just take a breath. Then readjust the circular formation and re-aim. But this time, instead of aiming at each other and assorted feet, this time take aim at the real enemy: John McCain and every up-for-election Republican who sits in the House and Senate. They’re the enemy. They’re the guys who’ve let our country fall apart and fall away from the values (yes, values) and ideals that make our country great.

But, you wisely ask, aren’t Obama and Clinton running against each other? How else can we figure out who should have the nomination if they don’t attack each other’s Achilles heels and other weaknesses? How, indeed. And thanks for asking.

Fight the enemy. Fight McCain. What better target for practice? What better a test of wills? Of skills? Of merit? Who has the better claim against McCain? Show us. In real time. Because that’s what it’s all about, baby. Because that’s what’s going to matter in the final analysis.

You wanna see who should have the nomination? Fight McCain. Let us see you set the agenda against his, and theirs. Don’t give the guy a pass. Don’t let him embrace racists like Rod Parsley, demagogues like John Hagee. Don’t let him embrace eight years of a disastrous presidency and revise it to suit his (and the Republican agenda). Because, believe me, he will. And they will. You think Karl Rove has been vacationing in Aruba? You think those 527s have laid down their arms? No way. And while Hillary and Barack are taking pot shots firing at each other, they’re taking their eyes off the prize and watching it disintegrate into sand right in front of their (and our) eyes. They’re distracted from the real war; from the real fight.

Like I said, my advice isn’t worth a lot. So, I do think we’ll continue to see more of the same. Democrats shooting at each other and themselves in the foot as the Republicans plan the autumn offensive. And they’ll be ready. But the real question is will the Democrats? This campaign sorely needs John Edwards back in the fray. I miss his role as “the adult candidate.”

So I will end with a plea to the adults in the upper echelons of the Democratic party. Will someone — John Dean? Al Gore? Teddy Kennedy?  someone (or all of you) — put a stop to this? For the sake of the party, for the sake of the race, for the sake of the country — and the sake of the planet.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."

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