Getting Carter's attention

"Well, it looks like we finally got his attention," cracked candidate Kennedy after candidate Carter sent him an exploding valentine via the televised presidential news conference this week. Indeed, Mr. Kennedy's guerrilla warfare on a sequestered leader had been a little like the legendary sound of one hand clapping until Mr. Carter responded with Wednesday's shafts at the accuracy, propriety, and responsibility of the Kennedy sorties.

What now?

The nation's two leading Democrats and their aides can let important differences on the issues lapse into a futile firing-for-effect that will bring grins to the faces of Republican bystanders.

Or they can proceed to give those issues the kind of serious discussion which both candidates nominally favor so that the resulting tested positions offer their party -- and the country -- something solid to go on.

The choice is obvious.

Yet, in a democracy, the exchange of barbed political valentines can't be ruled out. Can you imagine a Russian Kennedy being around to say he'd finally gotten Mr. Brezhnev's attention?

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