ONE thing seems guaranteed - the Democratic Party in the US can be relied on to field idiosyncratic candidates for the presidency.
Back in the 1992 presidential campaign it was, of course, Bill Clinton.
The party and its powerful media backers had ample warning that he was unsuitable for the presidency, but they flocked to him anyway.
News surfaced early of his links to Gennifer Flowers, who, after denying she was involved in an affair, confessed to a 12-year clandestine dalliance.
Then, after the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal was exposed, wife Hillary claimed her husband was a victim or a "huge right-wing conspiracy" with her subsequent 562-page biography, Living History, silent on the real Bill's proclivities.
Democratic backers have been claiming Republican nominee John McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, was too inexperienced because she's from "backwater" Alaska.
But they didn't say that when the then governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, also often called a backwater state, was seeking the presidency.
Leaving aside details of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the important point is that it sparked impeachment proceedings, the gravest charge any president can face, which had a debilitating impact upon good and orderly governance of the US.
In other words, Mr Clinton wilfully failed to fulfil his duty.
How many Democrats concede that the culprit was Mr Clinton first and foremost, and secondly their party?
Unlike Republican predecessor, Richard Nixon, he didn't resign in favour of his vice-president when impeachment was imminent.
Furthermore, America's powerful feminist lobby - long-time one-eyed Democratic backers - never publicly criticised their White House hero, after which so many of their kind unashamedly helped propel his long-silent wife's 2008 presidential bid.
And the party's congressional contingent, to a man and woman, rallied behind their man from Arkansas.
On so many counts, the Democratic Party, which has been living off the memories of the Franklin D Roosevelt years, is a tawdry entity.
It's worth recalling that the Clinton presidency and his gaudy after-hours antics existed when history basically went on holiday.
The Clinton years (1992-2000) were ones of few international challenges, since the Soviet Union had collapsed during 1989-91.
The one truly significant event, the February 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, financed by Khalidd Shaikh Mohammed who went on to plan and bankroll the attacks of September 11, wasn't even cursorily investigated despite six innocent people being killed and over 1,000 injured.
The man on the bridge was asleep at the wheel.
Forget the journalistic hoo-hah of the Clinton years - they were overshadowed by puerile misbehaviour evident well before 1992.
For instance, Mr Clinton gained a Rhodes scholarship, so his fees to Oxford University were paid.
However, he never fulfilled his obligations to that scholarship's trustees because he failed to complete the degree he'd enrolled for as a condition of acceptance.
In other words he's also a failed Rhodes Scholar.
Now, what has the party that gave us Mr Clinton offered this time?
Well, it's the, until recently, little-known and inexperienced Chicago-based senator, Barack Obama.
Throughout the primaries and presidential campaign we had ongoing revelations that Senator Obama was closely linked to some quite unsavoury characters.
Even before the primaries, however, his wife, Michelle, made a telling and particularly strange remark: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback."
Soon after she felt compelled to release a spin doctor-prepared re-wording: "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."
Like her husband, she attended Harvard Law School - something millions of patriotic Americans aspire to but haven't enjoyed - so claiming to be proud of America for the first time certainly seemed strange.
Since then we've learned the Obamas were parishioners in racist-breathing firebrand Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years.
Also to emerge were Senator Obama's close links to characters like convicted Chicago fraudster Antoin Rezko, communist Frank Marshall Davis in the senator's Hawaiian days, and more recently, Weathermen leadership couple, William Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn.
Predictably, Obama fans discount this, alleging it implies guilt by association, and claiming his links with the latter two came after their love of terrorism ended.
That's certainly the line taken by Joseph Palermo in reviewing David Freddoso's bestseller The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media's Favorite Candidate.
Ardent Democrats invariably dub any highlighting of relevant inconvenient truths as negative campaigning.
Regular BBC panelist and 1996 Orwell Prize for Journalism winner, Melanie Philips, disagrees.
"Obama is at the centre of a network of radical associations which he has tried to conceal," she said.
"Take for example his relationship with William Ayers, founder of the terrorist Weather Underground, which bombed federal buildings in the 1960s and who has consistently maintained his radical views ever since.
"...Obama has become close to another preacher, Jim Wallis, who spews out the same anti-American message - once calling the US 'the great power, the great seducer, the great captor and destroyer of human life'."
African-American economist, Thomas Sowell, says: "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, William Ayers and Antoin Rezko are not just people who happened to be at the same place at the same time as Barack Obama.
"They are people with whom he chose to ally himself for years.
"Some gave political support, and some gave financial support, to Mr Obama's election campaigns, and Mr Obama in turn contributed either his own money or the taxpayers' money to some of them.
"That is a familiar political alliance - but an alliance is not just an 'association' from being at the same place at the same time.
"Mr Obama could have allied himself with all sorts of other people.
"But, time and again, he allied himself with people who openly expressed their hatred of America.
"No amount of flags on his campaign platforms this election year can change that.
"The story of Mr Obama's political career is not pretty."
Professor Sowell says the Freddoso study, which Obama backers pooh-pooh, is a "serious book with 35-pages of documentation in the back to support the things said in the main text.
"In other words, if you don't believe what the author says, he lets you know where you can go check it out."
Commentator Paul Kengor observed: "There's a lot of frustration among conservatives over how Barack Obama's radical past seems to be making no impact whatsoever among the American public.
"His connection to communists in particular, from communist-terrorists like Bill Ayers to the communist agitator-journalist Frank Marshall Davis to fellow travellers like Saul Alinsky, has simply failed to resonate beyond the political right.
"Quite the contrary, the more information that becomes available on Obama's radical associations, the more he seems to widen his lead over John McCain, a man who was tortured by communists in Vietnam."
The Democratic Party in 2008 found, as in 1992 with Mr Clinton, a winner.
Although badly bitten once, it's clearly still far from being shy.
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