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January,  2008

 

There were at least a half dozen police vehicles at the scene of a major collision in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 on Jan. 9. But there were none at the Fourth Street, 11th Street, Delaware Avenue nor Concord Pike interchanges where traffic could have been diverted before getting trapped for the better part of an hour or more.

It would be a relatively simple matter to provide marked emergency alternate routes back to the highway and to direct drivers to them in the event of major tie-ups.

    

No one even remotely in touch with reality expected Joe Biden to win the Democrat nomination let alone make it to the White House. It was like having a lottery ticket in your pocket the day before the drawing. You know the odds are long, yet you keep telling yourself that someone, somewhere, has to have the right combination of numbers.

Now that it's over, there might be an inclination to look at his futile run as a quixotic quest. But the senior senator from Delaware is anything but an errant knight tilting at windmills. He is widely recognized as one of the most astute members of Congress, an acknowledged authority not only on foreign relations but also on a score of significant domestic issues.

Whether he would have made a good President is a question that will never be answered. His entire adult life has dealt with the way to shape and implement public policy, not to initiate it. His resume includes no executive experience. Still, Joe Biden is a leader -- someone who grasps the implications and nuances of an issue, advocates his views in terms that most people can understand, and holds to his position until he achieves or is vindicated. What has been sorely absent from our national leadership since Ronald Reagan's time has been such a leader.

We trust that he will fulfill the commitment made in his withdrawal statement. Whether in the U.S. Senate, or the Department of State -- which is still a viable option and one we hope he doesn't really mean to dismiss -- or as an activist Vice President, the nation needs Joe Biden.

There should be no disappointment in his dropping his bid for the nomination after just the first trial. It was a sensible decision. In making it, he put into sharp focus for any who want to see the low estate to which the process of setting national leadership has fallen. It clearly works against bringing the best qualified to office in favor of elevating those capable of spending the most money and creating a celebrity image. The two-year farce we are witnessing is nothing short of a disgrace.

At a time when monarchs still held power and actually governed, our Founding Fathers devised a process intended to find the best-suited man to lead the republic. It has been fashionable in recent times to disparage the Electoral College, but, with a bit of updating,  it could serve its intended purpose.

Start, of course, with eliminating gender and any other discriminatory specificity. Then do away with the winner-take-all accumulation of each state's vote. Vote the first Tuesday after the first Monday in October for serious electors -- one in each congressional district and two at large for each state, plus a population-based number for the District of Columbia and each of the territories. The major parties and any that qualify under a state's present standards to be included on the ballot would provide the candidates.

The electors would gather, at public expense, soon after in Washington to interview everyone who declares for the presidency, after a preliminary screening to eliminate obviously frivolous entrants. The electors would choose from among them at least three candidates who would then have about six weeks to pick a vice-presidential running mate and campaign, mostly through the nationwide media, for an early-December election at which the total popular vote would determine the result.

We're under no illusion that such an arrangement will be considered any time in the near future. But until it or comparable reform is considered and adopted there's not much chance, as Iowa clearly demonstrated, of putting the best man, or woman, in the White House.

Last updated on January 10, 2008

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