There may be a solution. Instead of trying to finesse a compromise to count Democratic voters and seat Democratic delegates from the two states at the Democratic National Convention, borrow a page from the same songbook. Ramp up the date of the national election.
There may be a solution.
It may not be brilliant, but we're long past expectations of genius. It might sound unorthodox and it definitely requires legislative finagling. It wouldn't be the first time government finagled the citizens. Or the Constitution.
The practical point is this: You don't have to think out of the box to get out of the box. Just stand up, lift a leg over the edge.
The Republican nominee for president is a done deal. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan endorsed John McCain this week. The Democratic contest looks to drag on for months. Hillary Clinton won't play second fiddle to Barack Obama. Obama won't bow to Hillary. No one knows how to make harmony out of the situation with Florida and Michigan.
Instead of trying to finesse a compromise to count Democratic voters and seat Democratic delegates from the two states at the Democratic National Convention, borrow a page from the same songbook. Ramp up the date of the national election.
Skip the conventions. Hold the national election by mid-June. Get it over with. The country can't take nine, six or even three more months of Bush/Cheney Inc.
Usually the nominee has already been decided by the time the convention rolls around. That's the case with Republicans and the presumptive Republican nominee. If neither Obama nor Clinton comes up with the magic number of delegates to wrap up the Democratic nomination, tell them both to run. The first one to step aside for the good of the country is the one who gets the nomination.
Don't think of a June national election as political heresy. Think in terms of a one-time sacrifice for the greater good and collective peace of mind.
Think of it as a young couple, fresh and in love, ready to wed for all the right reasons. Watching their families fracture and fall apart over the strain and cost of planning an obscenely spectacular wedding, they decide to run off and get married. Of course, the families are shocked and disappointed, but they get over it once they recognize the newlyweds' future is more important than a big wedding.
But can you elope with an election?
Not easily. Congress would balk. Election commissions would rant. An early national election would throw congressional and other local races out of whack. But many states, including Illinois, moved up primary elections for lesser reasons than the emotional health of the country.
This is a national emergency.
As for what to do about the current president's remaining term in office? The moment the early election is over, some fresh-faced young legislator could orchestrate a move to put George W. Bush on administrative leave until January 2009.
There are, obviously, a few problems with this scenario, not the least of which some might call a total disconnect from reality. More prescient observers might recognize symptoms of what psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has described as the stages of grief - in this case, the third stage, bargaining.
Please, please, please, let us get this over. Let us get Bush out of office sooner rather than later, and we promise we'll do our best to clean up the messes he leaves in Iraq, Walter Reed, Guantanamo, Katrina, the environment, the economy, the mortgage foreclosures, gas prices ...
Grief, as Los Angeles Times writer Patt Morrison has pointed out, is an appropriate response to seven years of a president whose rallying cry to citizens after 9/11 was the same as his response to the economic meltdown: Go shopping.
From Florida 2000 to the search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction, on and on and on, Bush and Cheney have managed to send citizens through every stage of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Seven years of "this can't be happening" and the idea of running off with an election sounds pretty good.
Pam Adams is a columnist with the Peoria, Ill., Journal Star. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.