A reader writes:

You wrote:

Imagine an Obama-McCain race: adult, graceful, necessary, and good for us.

At first glance, this seems instinctively correct. But I fear that if it is indeed Obama vs McCain, you'll come to rue these words someday, especially if McCain were to swallow his pride and dignity (something he's done freely and often during the past seven years) and hire Rovian types, who would gladly play the Obama-Osama/Isn't-he-a-Muslim? card. I could easily see McCain - close to reaching his dream of the White House, and therefore so anxious were he to slip in the polls to the young whippersnapper Obama (a likely scenario) - becoming desperate and start slinging the mud. He has sold pieces of his soul time and again since 2000 - why wouldn't he sell what's left of it in exchange for the ultimate victory?

It doesn't matter whom the GOP nominee will be, Andrew: There will be nothing adult, graceful, necessary, or good for us about his campaign.

You can already see the hot-button issues forming: fear of immigrants; endorsing torture and destruction of the Constitution to protect us from those A-rabs; advocating "victory" in Iraq and sabre-rattling about Iran; scaring everyone to death about "socialized medicine"; and implying that the Democrat(ic) nominee is a closet Muslim and Osama cousin (Barack), lezbo castrata (Hillary), or a closet queer ("Breck Girl" Edwards).

You've got half of your equation right: Obama would run an adult, graceful, and necessary campaign that would be both "good for us" and in marked contrast to the debased mudfest the GOP would have in store. And we would learn an awful lot about the American people by whom we'd choose, and what ultimately motivates us more: Hope and Inclusion, or Fear and Division. The biggest reason to support Obama is the stark and utterly refreshing contrast he will provide to the GOP nominee.

But don't bet your mortage, or your health benefits, on the outcome.

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