It's nice to be leaving Pennsylvania. I hear the weather is wonderful in Guam this time of year.
Guam is the site of the next Democratic primary on May 3. Nine delegates are at stake. None of the candidates will actually campaign there, although sunny Guam might be a welcome respite between the grueling Pennsylvania campaign and the coming showdown in North Carolina and Indiana on May 6.
When I imply that I was in Pennsylvania, that is only mostly false, like Hillary's trip to Bosnia. I haven't set foot in the Keystone State in several years. But my mind has been in Pennsylvania for more than five weeks, shortly after it left Mississippi on March 11.
Some, in fact, would say I have lost my mind altogether. However, I know right where it has been: Focused for several hours a day on this year's presidential race.
Never miss a local story.
That might seem excessive to those who pay little attention to presidential elections until the winner is being inaugurated. But the number of Americans paying attention this year indicates I am not alone.
Nearly every primary has produced record voter turnout. People are showing an unprecedented interest in this race.
The cable news stations, where political junkies go for a daily fix of bloviating pundits, have all added new shows dealing specifically with the election. Millions of viewers apparently can't get enough of it.
But Pennsylvania, home to hunting, bowling, boilermaker-drinking steelworkers on one end and soft-handed, white-wine-sipping, college-educated elitists on the other, was a long slog. The moronic debate over "Bittergate" made me bitter, especially since it was largely a debate among wealthy, privileged, college-educated TV analysts.
I even grew weary of Hillary's attempts to explain away her misstatements regarding the corkscrew landing under sniper fire. What more do we need to know about any of that stuff?
I know it is pompous and less than entirely sincere to demand that elusive "serious debate on the real issues." Do we really want to hear the candidates recite their talking points on all those real issues?
Still, we could use something more illuminating than an endless rehash of candidate blunders and the latest manufactured scandal.
It also is galling that we leave Pennsylvania in a muddle. The result -- an 8.5 percent victory for Clinton -- was maddeningly inconclusive. She didn't win by enough to turn the race on its head; she didn't lose or win by a small enough margin to send the superdelegates stampeding to Obama.
I won't dwell on the arithmetic of this race. The analysts have done that ad nauseum.
But while the end of the story appears already to have been written, we are compelled to watch, hoping for or dreading a surprise twist. We listen dutifully to the spin of the various campaign aides and strategists and chew over the potential scenarios for how this thing will end.
What happens if one candidate wins big in Indiana? Does this drawn-out duel hurt or help the Democrats? Is McCain sitting back, laughing as the Democrats squander what looked like certain victory in November? Would Obama and Clinton share a ticket? The speculation is both agony and ecstasy.
The Democratic primary campaign is the proverbial car wreck we don't want to look at but can't turn away from. It's ugly but strangely fascinating.
And, at least we can take comfort in the fact that this is not just "American Idol." The winner of this competition gets more than a recording contract. And all of us who are obsessing over the campaign might actually be involved in something important.
So, on to Guam, and wherever that might lead us.