What happened
The fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is winding down as voters in South Dakota and Montana cast ballots in the last primary contests. Barack Obama is 40 delegates shy of the 2,118 needed to seal the nomination, and sources close to his rival, Hillary Clinton, said she was ready to concede defeat, vow to do whatever it takes to help the party win in November, and accept an offer to be Obama’s running mate, if asked. (CNN)

What the commentators said
The Democratic Party tried to “reunite its warring factions” with a compromise to split the contested Michigan and Florida delegations, said The Denver Post in an editorial, “but party unity won't come until Hillary Clinton puts the good of her party and the causes she has championed above her own burning desire to become president.” Clinton has always said, “Let every vote count,” so maybe she’ll be ready to move on in a few hours after the last ballots are tallied in South Dakota and Montana.

Obama is already getting to work, said John Dickerson in Slate. “In anticipation of the coming end, Obama spoke warmly about his former opponent, praising Clinton's determination and promising the two of them would be united for the general election.” He then proceeded to blast the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, on “everything from the Iraq war to the gas-tax holiday,” betting that “the specter of a McCain administration” is what will really “unite all Democrats.”

It took long enough, said Bob Herbert in The New York Times. “There are so many things that the Democrats need to do to have any chance of winning the White House in November, and it’s awfully late in the game to begin doing them.” At least now that the party’s “circular firing squad” has stopped shooting the general election campaign can begin.

Don’t expect the Clintons to give up gracefully, said Rich Lowry in National Review Online. Bill Clinton continued “desperately plugging his wife’s doomed presidential campaign,” like a political version of “a bloated Elvis Presley in a sequined suit” sweating on stage way past his prime. Clinton will come around to supporting Obama, but the Clintons clearly see the primaries as “the fruit of another vast conspiracy” against them, this one perpetrated by a “biased media” and “unfair rules.”

“The question now is what role Clinton will play after Obama has formally secured the nomination,” said Lou Cannon in The Washington Post. Will she offer Obama lukewarm support like the backing Ronald Reagan gave Gerald Ford in 1976, when Ford lost narrowly to Carter? Or will she campaign tirelessly for him, the way Ford did for Reagan in 1980? “The outcome of the election could depend on the answer.”