Conrad Burns was interviewed Friday on David Berg's "Voices of Montana" radio talk show. Most of the discussion was about how wonderful Burns is and what meanies the Democrats and media were for mentioning his ties to Jack Abramoff. But there also was this: Burns raised doubts about using primaries to select presidential candidates rather than picking candidates at political conventions as in the old days.
I wasn't taking notes or even listening very carefully, but his argument seemed to be that the old method picked candidates who best represented the political party and its interests. In the current system, all candidates essentially are running a national campaign in every state and genuine differences in policy and ideology tend to stay beneath the surface.
It seemed like a reasonable point, and I, too, have wondered whether all these primaries really serve the national interest. If nothing else, conventions certainly were more exciting in the old days. But it also would have been hard to top the New Hampshire primary for excitement.
Still, I wonder if it could be true that by obscuring party differences in the primaries we wind up exaggerating them when it comes to actual governance.