The last two presidential election years ending in 8 have been horrendous. 1968, of course, was the definitive election-year nightmare. Who could ask for more hell than the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the unsuccessful race-baiting campaign of the not yet semi-redeemed George Wallace, and the successful, and more subtle, race-baiting campaign of the disastrous Richard Nixon? 'Nuff said.
1988 was a picnic in comparison, although it was more personally painful for me. As a young member of the local "Lawyers for Dukakis" group, I was confident that the country was ready for a return to basic smarts and competence after two terms of Reagan. Bush was clearly a boob, and Dukakis knew his stuff. Heck, one of my professors from Harvard Law School was his issues adviser! In the bag, right? But Dukakis ran an exceedingly wimpy, passive campaign, and the perfectly fine-tuned ugliness of the Republicans' Willie Horton-based outreach carried the day. Obviously, "Lawyers for Dukakis" types don't expect a campaign to be determined by yet more race-baiting -- or by Pledge of Allegiance nonsense nonissues, for that matter.
On this election eve, 2008 looks to be a very, very welcome change from the last two angry 8s. Intelligence finally wins. Race-baiting finally is shown the door. It's been a long wait for the country.