Though the past few weeks have been difficult for the Obama campaign with the re-emerging Jeremiah Wright issue, both Democratic candidates set a positive tone in fund raising speeches in North Carolina and Indiana, reaching a significant milestone in the Democratic Presidential campaign. This positive tone sets the ground for eventual reconciliation and reestablished party unity, recognizing that history is being made with either a Caucasian woman or an African American man probably occupying the White House for the first time in history.
Despite a few campaign ads described as "negative" or "hypocritical" by opposing camps, both candidates have kept to issues in campaign appearances during the past few weeks, clearly defining differences especially over gas tax suspension and Iraq/Iran policy. Voters now have a clearer picture of contrasting leadership stiles, one combative and driven, the other calm and thoughtful, but both committed and determined to succeed.
Though the media driven Wright controversy continued to trouble the Obama campaign, Obama's handling of the issue showed voters his calm and steady approach under pressure. Obama has developed campaign poise and strategy under fire from concerted media and Clinton campaign opposition. Should Obama emerge as the chosen Democratic candidate, McCain and the Republicans will have little if any legitimate negative charges to lodge against him.
Clinton, though more exposed to Republican attack over old "baggage" if she wins the Democratic race, has finally shown restraint regarding the Wright issue, refusing to add to previous comments. Her campaign presentation has also abandoned the somewhat strident tone of previous weeks, resulting in a more positive appeal to voters. She may well benefit from this positive change in approach during the coming weeks.
This positive result is healthy for both candidates and for the Democratic Party as the campaign moves toward the final primaries ending June third. Negative aspects of the campaign have made it seem long and grueling to contenders and supporters alike, but positive results are now beneficial for the nation and for the contestants as well. States with no previous voice in campaign selection remain able to participate right to the end.
The revived positive tone in both campaigns has to be seen as a victory for Democratic forces regardless of the eventual campaign outcome. Negative concentration threatened to hand the election to the Republicans on a silver platter in a contest where they otherwise had little chance to prevail. News media obsession with Jeremiah Wright's contentious view of American racism served only to increase doubt among white voters as to whether they would vote for an African American, threatening to send American society reeling back to the divisive racism of the past. Fortunately, the candidates themselves have done much to lift the campaign out of these dangers and to reestablish it as a healthy exercise in voter choice.
One possible lesson from this is that positive endeavor never seems too long or too wearisome, though sheer physical fatigue will certainly occur. We find fulfillment in what we accomplish. There is only regret for what we destroy, even if the destruction is necessary. Clearing away rubble to build a new house is one thing; destroying a thing of established value to supplant it with something of questionable value is quite another.
Both candidates have positioned themselves to reap the victory of Democratic unity and ultimate campaign success following the convention. An atmosphere is now reestablished where either campaign can be strengthened for the Presidential contest ending in November. We owe both candidates a vote of thanks for overcoming negatives and regaining positive ground despite all odds.