Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown
So much for Wisconsin providing the coronation of John Kerry: Yes, the exit polls show Kerry winning here, but with John Edwards expectation-shattering close. Depending on the source, it's either 42-31 or 41-33. Howard Dean is at either 15 or 17 in the exit polls--not far off from where the preference polls had him before he began focusing on the state two weeks ago. (The polls are open here until 8:00.)

The following is a closed-circuit message to my candidate: Dr. Dean, I love ya. And I know, when I shook your hand a week ago, I thanked you and told you to keep fighting--but the time has come to stop. The supporters who have come out to greet you in the last two weeks were the already-converted. You were preaching to the choir. You still have a movement at your command, but it's not big enough to get the nomination. If you really think John Kerry is a Republican in Democrat drag, and if you truly want to stop him, it's time to acknowledge John Edwards is the only one who can.

Look at it this way: Both Wisconsin exit polls show Kerry and Anybody But Kerry in a dead heat. But the only way ABK has a chance is for you to step aside now, before Super Tuesday, so ABK can get a clear shot. Some of your supporters are going to hate you if you do this, and they would prefer to see you hang on until somebody has to pry your cold dead fingers off the podium mike at the Democratic convention. But I am convinced that the majority of us know the score. We won't think the money we've given you has been wasted--if what you have stood for all these months ultimately ends up making the country better. We'll only believe we've wasted the money we gave you if you hang in for the sole purpose of being a spoiler, and by doing so, you leave the party weakened for the important job of beating Bush. In a campaign that's had some great and inspirational moments, ending it at the right moment and in the right way--tomorrow morning--could end up being the greatest.

Recommended reading: From the Baltimore Sun, this piece about Kerry's challenge in reaching out to the Deaniac base. Dean pollster Paul Maslin (name-dropper alert: Maslin spoke to a Dean meetup I attended last summer) told the Sun that if Kerry wants to access the passion (and the dollars) of the Deaniacs, he "is going to have to show genuineness on the issues these people care about, starting with the war [in Iraq] and No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act. Then there's the whole question of 'Do you really mean it when you say special interests have got to get out of this process?'"

I am pleased to see that the story about Kerry's reported dalliance with an intern has pretty much sunk without a trace. Maybe it means the media really wants to focus on stuff that matters. (In the Prospect, Eric Alterman and Michael Tomasky say maybe, but they also warn that old habits die hard, and offer five suggestions for the press that would allow them to "reassert their power and professional pride.") More than likely, however, it means that Matt Drudge overreached without actually having the goods. Wonkette analyzes the egg on Drudge's face. After reading a little about it myself, it occurs to me that what I dislike most about Drudge is those SCREAMING ALL-CAPS HEADLINES HE PUTS ON EVERYTHING. Pipe down, fercryinoutloud.

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