Paul Tsongas displayed his trademark self-deprecating wit and realistic earnestness yesterday as he "suspended" his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He said he did not have the money to "fight the media wars in New York." Thus he and his message would be overshadowed -- or even misdefined -- by Gov. Bill Clinton, whose campaign chest is bulging.
It is discomforting to see the importance of campaign finance stated so starkly, but it is a fact of political life. As Mr. Tsongas said, "money is the mother's milk of politics." It always has been. It also has always been a fact of political life that winners attract money. The reason Governor Clinton is flush and Mr. Tsongas is not is that Mr. Clinton has proven himself to be a very successful voter-getter -- running against Mr. Tsongas.
Mr. Tsongas said he had trouble raising money last year, but then, "saved by the message," began to raise enough to compete. We wish that were true, because we like his message of accepting a little short term discomfort to achieve long term growth and prosperity. But we believe that what put his candidacy over the top in a few primary states, including Maryland, was not his message nearly so much as it was the so-called Clinton scandals. Charges of marital infidelity, draft avoidance and financial conflicts of interest against Mr. Clinton "saved" Mr. Tsongas' campaign for the few weeks it took the Arkansas governor to recover.