The question is: Which candidate is more likely to benefit from endless hours of speechifying, hand-shaking, and town hall meetings? There's no reason to think the answer will be Clinton. While she may be just as smart as--and more experienced than--Edwards and Obama, she is an average orator, while Edwards is a very good one and Obama is a brilliant one. Having seen all three give speeches, it's hard for me to imagine how a prolonged side-by-side comparison will move voters into Clinton's camp. And, as the best-known of the leading candidates, she'll have the hardest time making a strong new impression anyway.
Post-Chait data point: In Iowa, "among those saying they have attended at least one caucus," Hillary leads Edwards by only 29-25%. A year out. ... Evitable! ...
Update: Reader K.S.Z. emails:
The obvious counter-example to your post on Hillary and Iowa: John Kerry. "Endless hours of speechifying, hand-shaking, and town hall meetings" should have sunk him, if they sank anyone. They didn't.
Good point. True, the tryout period promises to be much longer this time--but Chait does seem to have forgotten one crucial factor: the Iowa Dem caucusers are fools! Who knows whom they'll decide is "electable" this time? Still, that only makes their choice seem more random and less inevitable, no? ... P.S.: The larger issue is that we--the Dems, the press--are on the verge of making Iowa seem all-important again, even though the kind, earnest, liberal Iowans have not picked a winning non-incumbent Democratic candidate in the thirty years since Jimmy Carter and David Broder put the caucuses on the map. ... 1:57 A.M. link
Radar Magazine comes out on Tuesday, with "Toxic Bachelors" advertised on the cover. A Ron Burkle story in the very first issue! That should put to rest those persistent, unproven rumors that Burkle is funding Radar. I apologize for even worrying that editor Maer Roshan would pull his punches for someone who's at least a "good friend" of Yusef Jackson, chairman of Radar's parent company.. ...P.S.: What's that? Really? Must be some sort of printer's error. ...
P.P.S.--Free advice to Roshan: You boast in the Daily News that Radar plans to rely on
"actual reporters and photographers to cover stories ... not pajama-clad post-collegiates snarkily blogging on content produced by others." [E.A.]
a) Snarky! b) Cliched; c) Strategically foolish: Why begin your second relaunch by pissing off bloggers? Everyone admires your touchingly quaint attachment to actual, you know, journalism--but bloggers could be your friends. For one thing, as you note, they need your content to snark off of. For another, they may need real jobs one day (and if you're still around, you will hire them--don't pretend you won't). In the meantime they can give you publicity for your forthcoming investigative achievements. And it's not as if you're debuting your magazine without an obvious, Faustian-bargainish, gaping journalistic sore spot--i.e., conflicts of interest created by your mysterious ownership structure that bloggers could harp on obsessively if sufficiently goaded, conflicts of interest that are just the sort of thing the plodders of the mainstream press might pick up on to tar your name. You only get one chance to make a third impression! ...
P.P.P.S.--I'd say zero. How does zero sound? What are the chances that Radar will cover the most enjoyable likely scandal on the horizon--the gripping story of how Bill Clinton somehow avoided temptation to remain faithful to Hillary over the past 8 years--with Jackson & Co. funding the venture? Burkle is Bill Clinton's business partner, remember.