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HILLARY CLINTON won the Pennsylvania Democratic primary last night - as predicted.

The race for the Democratic nomination goes on, even though Clinton still has no realistic chance to catch Barack Obama in the popular vote or in elected delegates. It's a reality her campaign can't spin away, but she'll keep trying. And that's not good.

So it's not over, but it ought to be.

It's been seven weeks since the last primary. Time has not flown. In fact, time has dragged us all through the mud of attacks and counterattack that have divided more than united Democrats.

Still, as voters crowded into polling places yesterday - a significant number for the very first time - many were elated, inspired and hopeful.

For the first time in memory, the results of a presidential primary in Pennsylvania actually mattered. Except for the maddening robo calls, we enjoyed our extended run in the spotlight, and not only because Stephen Colbert broadcast his show from Philadelphia last week. The long campaign motivated the candidates to praise us and flatter us and go to ludicrous lengths to show they care about the concerns of us commoners in the commonwealth.

But many Pennsylvania voters - and those watching at home in other states - also are exhausted, resentful and dreading the ordeal of what could be a quagmire of a contest if it goes on much longer.

One in five supporters of each of the candidates were saying they won't vote for the other Democrat in November. We hope that those grudges won't continue into the fall.

At the same time, the Democratic presidential race is turning into the Iraq War of primary seasons. Democrats in effect are arming their opponents, like the Americans armed the Shiite militias they were fighting a few weeks ago. And the continuing campaign has drained money away from the war chest needed to win in November.

Clinton spent $3.7 million on television advertising in Pennsylvania, much of it attacking Obama. That's $3.7 million Republican candidate John McCain didn't have to spend. Obama spent $9 million in TV ads, which was $9 million he couldn't spend to respond to McCain's attacks and challenge him on his positions.

While we have problems with Obama's misleading ads attacking Clinton's health-care plan, at least he wasn't handing the Republicans an issue in the fall - not unless the Republicans are going to try to claim they will do a better job guaranteeing universal health care coverage.

Clinton, by contrast, has provided free broadcasts of Republican talking points, impugning Obama's toughness and even his patriotism.

As we wrote in our endorsement editorial, we support Barack Obama because he has shown through his fresh and efficient approach to campaigning that - as he puts it - he doesn't want to be better at the game, he wants to change the game itself.

If Clinton's McCarthy-esque tactics of "guilt by association," fueled by a media that loves a good mud-wrestling match, actually succeed in kneecapping Obama, this is what our politics will look like for a generation to come.

It's getting close to time for an intervention. We have hope . . . that it will come soon. *