If I have any qualms about the Bush story, they're the same ones that I felt at the time. The headline -- "He cheats on his wife" -- oversold what we were publishing, as I told Andersen and Morrison. They disagreed. And the Spy style tended to preface allegations with the word "alleged" less diligently than other publications.
You decide. But 1) Should Conason now be lecturing people on "journalistic standards"? 2) Is it conceivable that he'd have let his editors make such an attack on a mainstream Democratic candidate--even if the Democrats had attacked their Republican opponent on a sex issue first? No. 3) The lesson of 1992 wasn't that sex shouldn't be dredged up. It's that voters need to know about philandering. Clinton's philandering in fact heavily impacted both his terms in office. First, his wife had the goods on him, which encouraged him to defer to her in giving her health care plan priority over welfare reform and defending it past the moment of compromise--the biggest mistakes of his first four years, mistakes that led directly to GOP control of the Congress. Second, because Clinton got away on the philandering charge in 1992 (thanks to all the Democrats covering for him) he was encouraged to think he could get away with it in office, even in front of a federal judge, with the obvious disastrous results for his second term.
One point on which I was unfair to Conason: I actually don't think he'd be the first to raise a sex issue in a campaign. Only the second. (And only against a Republican, of course.) He's not the "perfect hack." Just a hack! ... P.S.: Thanks also for the link to Somerby's cracked riff on "pale, unloved thighs." ... P.P.S.: If Conason had offered to fax me his hard-to-get 1992 Spy piece, I'd have said yes! Then I would have realized my fax doesn't work. ... 9:38 P.M. link
Is Kerry about to go negative on Edwards? Ellis speculates. ... Meanwhile, the mysterious editor of The Scrum reappears to argue Kerry stepped over an invisible line by timing his speech to push his opponent off the air. ... It does show Kerry's scared, doesn't it? (Remember, he's a dirty hockey player!) ... P.S.: If Kerry's already "irritated" at Edwards' mild debate jibes, maybe he regrets allowing his aides to go around telling reporters that Edwards wouldn't help the ticket as Kerry's running mate. If Edwards has no shot at #2, why shouldn't he come after Kerry? ... 8:56 P.M.
Spinning for Kerry--Tim Russert Decides It All For You: Former Moynihan aide Tim Russert on NBC Nightly News after John Edwards' jarringly strong finish in Wisconsin:
"He cannot win enough delegates to be the nominee."
How the hell does Russert know this? Mathematically, (as Joe Trippi points out) Edwards has a perfectly decent chance of being the nominee, or at least of producing a split convention. Kerry might collapse once he's not perceived as inevitable and electable. Who knows? ... We are, we're told, entering a period in which "free media"--press coverage--is all important. Is it Russert's job to deliver not only a pre-packaged story line but to prearrange the ultimate result? ... He's not supposed to be gratuitously (and condescendingly) belittling Edwards' showing. He's supposed to be gratuitously hyping Edwards' showing. Jeez. Talk about out of step! ...
P.S.:WaPo's Balz says an Edwards victory would be "unprecedented and extraordinary difficult." I think that's still a bit too pessimistic, but it's better than "cannot." ...
P.P.S.: Balz also reports that
several Democratic sources said Kerry was irritated by Edwards's criticisms of him in Sunday's Wisconsin debate.
Edwards was a wuss in that debate! He got off one mildly cutting zinger. How vain, thin-skinned and entitled is Kerry? ...