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Thursday, January 15, 2004
 
Does Richard Cohen sound like a giddy schoolgirl in his latest piece on Wes Clark?

He is a "duty, honor, country" guy -- the West Point mantra he recites constantly. His themes are patriotism and leadership, and his credentials are unimpeachable. He was wounded in Vietnam. He rose to command NATO and made war in the Balkans. Four invisible stars glitter from his shoulders.

You can tell everybody's enjoying writing about the horse race again now that Dean appears to have pulled up lame. And I'll admit that most of Cohen's points are reasonable. But Clark at this point is a complete unknown, who has shown at least the possibility of being a loose cannon.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004
 
Jonathon Chait makes a good observation about Howard Dean:

Dean is winning in large part because the other candidates are handicapped by having made a realistic appraisal of what they have to do to remain viable against Bush. Dean, by escaping into political fantasy, is free to run as if there were no tension between winning over Democratic partisans and winning over people who like Bush.

Exactly. In the last series of Survivor, there was a character who called himself Johnny Fairplay, who devised a very interesting method of getting himself to the finals. He decided to be as obnoxious and as big a jerk as possible, on the theory that nobody would consider him a threat to win the vote of the jury, and therefore they would be happy to have him be the other finalist. He freely admitted that he didn't know how he was going to win once he got to the finals, but even the second place finisher would get $100,000.

That's Howard's campaign strategy. He knew he was a longshot to even get the nomination, so he figured why not go for broke? He'd at least get the nomination of the Democrats, even if there was no way he'd end up getting elected in the general election.

In the end, it didn't work for Johnny Fairplay. The lady who won the last immunity challenge decided to vote him off (thereby costing herself $900.000, as the woman she took to the finals with her ended up winning the jury vote.
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Monday, January 12, 2004
 
The WaPo editorial assessing John Edwards includes this curious observation:

He disappointed us by voting against the $87 billion for military and reconstruction funding, but he has been speaking since before the onset of hostilities about the importance of planning for the postwar period. "The real test for America will come after Saddam is gone," Mr. Edwards said last February. "Will we make the commitment to help build a peaceful, democratic, post-Saddam Iraq?"

Why "but"? It should be obvious that when you lead with a negative ("He disappointed us...") and then throw in "but" it's something that offsets that negative. In this case he didn't vote for the $87 billion for military and reconstruction funding but he did talk a good game back in February. To that I would add, but he did not make the commitment to help build a peaceful, democratic post-Saddam Iraq.


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