Kerry Withdrawal Contest: In part for reasons described in the preceding item, Democratic Senator John Kerry, once proclaimed the frontrunner in the press, faces not just defeat but utter humiliation in the New Hampshire primary. Is he really going to soldier on to finish in the single digits and get clobbered by both Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, if not one or more other candidates? Shouldn't he save his pride (and possible national political future, if only as a VP candidate) by withdrawing from the race before this harsh popular verdict is rendered? ... But what can Kerry say that isn't even more humiliating than seeing it through? "I realize my wife Teresa needs me more than my country needs me"? That won't cut it. "I've decided to take time out to learn the Web so I can compete in future campaigns" and "I'm entering rehab at an undisclosed location to recover from my vicious Ibogaine habit. I make no excuses" are too trendy. ... Let's harness the power of the Web and help Kerry adviser/speechwriter Robert Shrum with the dirty job that lies ahead for him. A copy of John Glenn: A Memoirto the reader who submits the best cover excuse that will let Sen. Kerry drop out of the presidential race before the voting actually starts while preserving his viability within the system. ... Void where prohibited.... My entry:
"Because Howard Dean chose not to abide by the campaign finance law's limits, it's now clear to me that in order to compete I would have to spend unconscionable amounts of my own money and jeapordize my family's and my children's future. This I will not do. I put my family before any personal ambition. I will dedicate the remainder of my Senate term to promoting a new, better campaign finance system to insure that no serious candidate is ever faced with this choice again."
OK, so Kerry's wife Teresa is fabulously wealthy and the family would be in fine economic shape whatever happens (especially since Teresa can't waste her own assets on his campaign). Come up with a better excuse, then. ... One more: How about the need to recover from a mysterious "motorcycle accident"? It worked for Dylan! ... 2:48 A.M.
Dean, Clark, Hope for Sparks: The more I think about it, a turning point in the Democratic presidential campaign has to come with the first N.H. poll showing Clark ahead of Kerry and in second place--which could happen any day now. Clark's only three points behind in one poll and only two in another. And Kerry's fading while Clark is rising. ... When the lines cross, several things will happen: 1) The main surviving rationale of Kerry's campaign--"I'm the electable alternative to Dean"--evaporates. It turns out there's a more electable alternative. Kerry's vote asymptotically approaches zero. 2) The #1 versus #2, Dean versus Clark match up will get lots of play in the press because Clark's strengths are Dean's weaknesses, yielding a story line that is simple and compelling: "Peacenik McGovern II versus Electable Military Man. Which will the Democrats Choose?" ... 3) Clark will get a lot of favorable treatment in this new round of coverage--in part because the press feels guilty about giving Dean (as The Note notes) a relatively easy time so far, in part because the press wants a close race. If Clark's ready with an appealing message when the spotlight turns to him, he could give Dean a scare and at least come close enough to winning to get a boost for the post-N.H. primaries. ... P.S.: I flew this scenario by a number of knowledgeable political reporters at a party I was just at, and none of them bought it. So it's not the CW! It's quirky and contrarian! I want big points if it pans out. ... Update:NY Post's Deborah Orin buys it, so it's not that quirky. ... TNR's Noam Scheiber buys it too. ... [approaching CW?-ed Think you need Balz or Broder for that. Balz today just says it looks bad for Kerry, not that it's a Clark slingshot.] ... More: MinuteMan Maguire doubts there will be a Clark boom because, he says, key elements of the press don't like Clark. ... 2:21 A.M.
But she was sick!NYT correction of the week:
n obituary on this page yesterday erroneously reported the death of Katharine Sergava, a dancer and an actress who portrayed the dream-ballet version of Laurey, the heroine, in the original production of "Oklahoma!" Friends of hers reported the error yesterday.
The L.A. Times is still living in its anti-Schwarzeneggerian alternative universe. Here's the hopeful lede of a November 20 story by Gregg Jones (whose name seems to be on all the most egregiously blindered pieces) and Evan Halper:
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ambitious legislative agenda bumped into political reality on Wednesday as Senate Democrats thwarted a quick repeal of a law that would give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and Republicans raised concerns over his proposal to borrow up to $15 billion to address a projected budget gap.
In the Assembly, meanwhile, Schwarzenegger's finance director, Donna Arduin, abruptly walked out of a Budget Committee hearing as Democratic lawmakers began asking tough questions.
The repeal of the license law in fact passed the legislature on Dec. 1 and was signed yesterday. Seems pretty quick to me! Meanwhile, Jill Stewart gives the story behind Arduin's "abrupt" walk-out that the LAT omitted. ... If Jones is arguably the worst reporter on the Arnold beat, Stewart is emerging as the best. She gives good detail and seems perfectly willing to bash her natural allies and friends when called for. (In her latest column, she blames GOP legislators for setting an immature partisan tone and encouraging Democrats to retaliate.) ... 2:04 A.M.