Nasty primary a preview of what's ahead


Kevin White, the longtime mayor of Boston during the 1970s who died Friday, had a rare insight into campaigns that comes only with running for and holding office.

Asked about criticism, he said, "Don't judge me by the Almighty; judge me by the alternative."

Not a bad thought as we head toward November and a general election already in full swing.

Republicans still have a detail or two to work out - picking a candidate! - but we already know what this election is about, or at least what the two sides WANT it to be about.

As the president sees it, it's about fairness: The Republicans are trying to stack the deck against average Americans to make Easy Street easier for rich folks.

As the Republicans tell it, it's about Barack Obama: He didn't get to the White House last week, they'll tell you, he's been there three years and he made things worse.

The nastiness of this Republican primary is but a preview of what's to come. Our system has its flaws, we don't find out much about the issues, but we find out a lot about the candidates - their backgrounds, character and how they respond to pressure. Good things to know about those seeking the most powerful office in the world.

But the best part is, we get to make our choice for whatever reason we choose.

Whether they ever heard what he said or even know who he was, I get the feeling a lot of people will be thinking the way Kevin White thought - comparing the candidates not to the Almighty, but to the alternative.

Kevin White was 82.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.