Sunday, August 24, 2003

Political celebs
On Thursday, after coming back from the Edwards event, I put together a quick piece about the candidate having the "Clinton mojo." However, I spaced out talking about a strange anomaly of the event: The attendance of the political celebrities.
This was the first campaign event where I saw some of the more serious political "reporters" in the audience.
George Stephanopoulous of ABCNews' "This Week," Jeff Greenfield of CNN, and Carl Cameron, of FoxNews, were all at the event. John Wagner of the Raleigh News & Observer was also there, and his stories have been linked to The Note: ["Edwards sets 100 N.H. meetings"].
Greenfield was friendly with some of the cameramen and reporters and chatted with attendees who recognized him. Cameron – who is shockingly thinner in person than on TV – was a social butterfly. Almost everyone recognized him, and a number of people said positive things about FoxNews. He even greeted Manchester Mayor Bob Baines and some of the other old-school Democratic powerbrokers like former state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, like they were old friends – showing all that Cameron knew the Manchester political landscape. Cameron was also later seen sneaking a ciggie in the corner where no one could see him.
Stephanopoulous had all the pomp and circumstance of a Greek god, with young female aides in tow and a self-important scowl on his face as he strolled down Elm Street, probably from his hotel room. Dressed in a black suit with open collared, blue button-down shirt, he had all the personality of a soap dish – glaring blankly at other reporters, including me for about 30 seconds, like we were supposed to fawn all over him or something [I wonder if he recognized me from the 1992 Brown effort. Probably not]. He barely talked to anyone at the event but did make on-camera time for the local ABC affiliate, WMUR, which did a quick interview with him. He was pretty weird.
But this got me to thinking.
I have been to four of these events so far, and with the exception of David Shuster of MSNBC at Dean’s Nashua event and various local reporters [including the excellent Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph], the national political press has been nowhere. What is it that attracted these reporters to the Edwards event? Edwards is in the bottom tier of polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and most national polls. Most politicos think he will end his presidential campaign and go back to North Carolina to run for reelection. BTW, Edwards is discouraging this kinda talk: ["Edwards quizzed about Senate"]. So why were they there? Could it be the "Clinton mojo?" Seeing Stephanopoulous – who ran Clinton's campaign with James Carville – would lend some credence to this theory. I guess I should have asked each of them why their news directors thought Edwards was important enough to cover, while Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry were not, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

Voter regret ...
There have been a billion articles on Nader voters' regrets in the last two years. Well, polls say Bush voter regret is simmering: ["Nearly half of Americans wouldn't vote for Bush again"].

'Bring my daddy home alive'
You can't help but get choked up looking at this little girl holding a sign at a Bush protest yesterday in the Dallas Morning News, via Common Dreams: ["Protesters Near Bush Ranch Demand Withdrawal of Troops from Iraq "].

Dean not so green
The Concord Monitor had a pretty good piece Friday on Howard Dean who was in Nashua visiting Superfund sites: ["Dean green on trail, but Vermont knows better"].

"In his five campaigns for governor, the Sierra Club's Vermont chapter never endorsed him. Even in 2000, when he faced the most difficult election of his career after signing the country's first civil unions bill, 40 prominent environmentalists publicly backed Progressive Party candidate Anthony Pollina.
"The privilege to earn a profit in Vermont does not automatically come, as Dean apparently believes, with a free pass to pollute our waters, despoil our natural resources or destroy our communities," Conservation Law Foundation lawyer Chris Kilian wrote in the Rutland Herald in September 2000."
Whoa. Then, there is this:

"In an appearance on a radio show in 2001, when California's energy crisis peaked in weeks of rolling blackouts, Dean pointed out that Vermont was facing a major future megawatt shortage. Within 15 years, both Vermont's nuclear plant's license and the state's contract with a Canadian hydroelectric plant would expire, leaving Vermonters in jeopardy of losing two-thirds of their electric power.
Dean suggested the state consider building a clean coal-fired plant. Though he emphasized he wasn't necessarily proposing anything - "this is intended to spur discussion," he said - the environmental community flew into an uproar. What about renewables? What about conservation?
"The resulting hue and cry . . . was so strident that he might as well have proposed a state holiday celebrating child molesters," economist Jonathan Lesser wrote in an opinion piece in the Burlington Free Press.
Dean quickly cancelled that short-lived discussion. But in a move that enraged progressives even further, he ousted one of his environmental advisers, respected Conservation Law Foundation attorney Elizabeth Courtney, for publishing an opinion piece criticizing Dean. The governor was clearly annoyed that she had pressed the issue even after he had backed away from it. Some Vermont environmentalists still haven't forgiven him."

And they shouldn't. Candidates have to think through some of their ideas before they just spout off anything. Kerry did something similar last year when he started talking about building more nuclear power plants - the worst thing our nation could do to address its energy problems - and something all voters should worry about.