I sighed when I saw a news magazine declare “They're off for the uniquely thrilling race for the White House.” “Uniquely boring slog” might be a better description. With twenty–one months to go before anyone can register a vote in the 2008 Presidential election it seems extremely unlikely that the early pace of innuendo and insult can be maintained. And it is inevitable that during this period major international events will intrude on American domestic politics to put every candidate's policies to unexpected tests.

In just the past few days the Republican front–runner John McCain has described Donald Rumsfeld as the worst Defence Secretary in history. The Hollywood financier David Geffen, who once supported Bill Clinton, helped Barack Obama to raise $1.3 million at a single event in Beverly Hills. Mr Geffen also infuriated the Hillary Clinton camp by saying that “the Clintons lie with such ease” and suggesting that Bill Clinton is still a “reckless guy”.

There is already one fascinating question about this campaign. Given that Bill Clinton would probably have won the 2000 election if he had been able to run, how should Mrs Clinton use his undeniable charisma and political instinct to help her cause? When they appeared together at the funeral of Martin Luther King's widow last year I wrote here that Bill outshone her effortlessly, and probably unintentionally. Would “vote Hillary and get Bill” be a vote winner or loser?


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