There is a tradition of political generosity that prevails among the normal people of America, a certain live-and-let-live-ness. That is why Little League games don't break out in fistfights, at least over politics. You don't shun people in the neighborhood because they're Democrats, and you don't inform the Republican in the next cubicle that he is evil, lazy and racist. That just doesn't play in America. There are breaches, exceptions, incidents. We are not angels. But by and large even though we disagree with each other, and even if we come to dislike each other, we maintain, for reasons both moral and practical, decorum. Civility. We keep a lid on it. We don't lower it to the level of invective. We don't by nature seek to divide.
When you have been in Washington long enough and have become consumed by your place in the political struggle, you can lose sight of the American arrangement. You can become harsh and shrill. You can become the sort of person who would start the fight at the Little League game. You can become--how might a columnist, as opposed to a political leader, put it?--a jackass. But not a funny one, a destructive one, the type that can knock down the barn it took the farmer years to build.
The comportment of Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean is actually not worthy of America. Their statements suggest they are in no way equal to the country they seek to lead. And something tells me that sooner or later America is going to tell them. But in a generous, mature and fair-minded way.