A different Democratic presidential nominee — former senator James Webb, say, or even Sen. Bernie Sanders — could separate himself from Obama’s policies and their results. But Clinton can’t. Obama’s policies, and their ugly results, are Clinton’s policies as well. Better to talk about sex, even Bill’s affairs, than that.

In a healthier society, a free press would be talking about these issues whether the candidates wanted to or not. But in today’s society, the press doesn’t want to make things tougher for Clinton. As Linker writes: “In a political season in which the media has come in for unprecedented hostility and abuse, this is its greatest, and least appreciated, shortcoming: When everybody else decided it was a good idea to forestall a public debate about enormously important and complicated policy questions, the press decided to go along.”

Whoever the next president is, he or she will likely confront a much uglier and more dangerous world than existed in 2008. And the 2016 campaign will have done nothing to prepare the nation for the decisions that will have to be made. Thanks, candidates. Thanks, press.