An amazing race … I said amazing race – the campaign, not the hymn. The budding election contest has come to look as though it will be settled not by who makes the most appealing arguments, but by who raises the most money.
So, until last week, Sen. Hillary Clinton was regarded as the almost inevitable choice for Democratic nominee. But then came reports of money raised during the first quarter of this year. And, lo and behold, Sen. Barack Obama had raised about $25 million, nearly matching Senator Clinton's $26 million. All of a sudden, The Wall Street Journal was talking of a hot primary race.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney pulled ahead with $23 million, and it begins to look now as though the contest for president will be dominated almost completely by money as America heads into its first billion-dollar campaign.
That being so, it strikes me that a lot of time and effort are being expended on money raising that could well be saved for the general election.
I have a suggestion to make, namely, that the primary election be abolished altogether and that the nomination simply be awarded to the candidate who has raised the most money.
That way we spare ourselves the anxiety of having to worry each quarter about who has come up from behind and created a brand new frontrunner.
That should satisfy almost everybody, except maybe the television networks, which stand to lose millions in payments for political ads.
Come to think of it, I'm not sure that my idea should be limited to the nomination process. I could envisage that, on Election Day, the Federal Election Commission at a preordained moment opens the envelope and announces the biggest money raiser – hence the next president.
Maybe the Supreme Court could preside over the ceremony. No, that's a bad idea. There's no telling who would be selected by our justices.
But awarding the election to the biggest bankroll would certainly give us the best president money can buy.
• Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst at National Public Radio.