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All sources in all quarters agree: the presidential race seems sort of slow and leadless lately.

Maybe it's Reagan, or Clinton, or June ennui.

Maybe it's the struggle to understand what the 2005 policy agendas of the candidates would be (just kidding).

Or maybe, just maybe, it is the paralysis that sets in as the crescendo of veepstakes approaches.

If you have never been a would-be source for, or a reporter on, a round of veepstakes, you can't even begin to imagine the amount of time that gets wasted on thousands of daily exchanges (phone, e-mail, IM, face to face) that go a little something like this:

Reporter: Hey.

Source: Hey.

Reporter: What are you hearing?

Source: The same thing I was hearing yesterday when you asked me about this. I'm really totally out of the loop on it.

Or like this:

Reporter: What's going on?

Source: Y'all are in the media -- you tell me.

Reporter: It's looking like X (fill in name of potential Kerry running mate here).

Source: Yeah, it sure does.

Reporter: Really? Are you hearing that?

Source: Ya.

Reporter (excitedly): Really? From where? How solid?

Source: Fournier just told me he was hearing that.

Reporter: (sighs)

Meanwhile, from top newspaper editors to reporters on the street (or, at least, at Bistro Bis), there is agreement.

1. Blah blah blah, the first big decision the candidate makes.

2. Blah blah blah, voters don't vote on who the vice presidential candidate is.

3. Blah blah blah, do no harm.

4. Blah blah blah, Gore and Cheney helped a lot.

Of course, all that really matters is what is going on inside John Kerry's head, and, to paraphrase Alvy Singer in "Annie Hall," we happen to have John Kerry's head right here:

A Nantucket Monologue

Act One, Scene One.

John Kerry, off-stage:

Jim Johnson likes to tell his friends that there are four theories of the case.

The first is that I need to choose someone who will help me in a state I need to win.

The second is that I need to choose someone who is good with certain swing constituencies.

The third is that the person must be a recognizable figure -- instantly credible as a vice president and potential leader.

The fourth is that the person be ready from moment one to order men and women to die in foreign lands or order NORAD to shoot down planes.

I've always been a realist. My instincts tend toward the third and fourth theories.

Of course, I've all but promised Joe Biden that he'll be Secretary of State.

I've heard good things about John Edwards from everyone -- from the polls that we had our old friend from Boston do, from Ted Kennedy, from the Clintons, from Jim Johnson even. And the Edwards boom is really a wonder.

But here's the issue. I don't like being boxed into a corner. Nor do I care to be told what to do.

The media have built up John Edwards to the point where my not choosing him would require some sort of explanation to the Democratic Party elites and their pals in the press.

I like John Edwards perfectly well, and I can even imagine respecting him.

But get real: most of the high poll numbers John Edwards now enjoys are a direct result of his name recognition. After all, the guy came in second. He's a magical talker. He's charismatic. He has that Southern accent that screams "moderate" to white Southern and Midwestern voters. I see all that.

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