Monday, September 22, 2003

Primaries, Dean, Clark, and Clinton: John Ellis in TCS examines how the Primary race is all about being one of the annointed two candidates.
The iron rule of media bias was once explained to me years ago by Henry Griggs, a media and political consultant. He described it as an analog of what he called "Fiji math." "In Fiji," he said, "they used to count as follows: one, two and many. There was no "three" or "four" or "five." There was just one, two and then that third number; "many." That's how the media cover politics. They can only count to two."

This bias is exaggerated by the exorbitant cost of covering campaigns. Simply put, the major television networks, newsmagazines and newspapers can't afford to cover a "many" field. It's a budget buster inside a budget that already requires huge outlays for pre-primary coverage, primary and caucus Election Night broadcasts, party convention coverage, debate coverage, general election campaign coverage and Election Night broadcasts. As a matter of simple economics, the field must be reduced to two as quickly as possible.
It's an interesting take on primaries and the media, but Ellis sees it as supportive of the Clark/Clinton ticket hypothesis that won't go away.
Enter General Wesley Clark, a Clinton/McAuliffe production if there ever was one (Clark's advisors, almost to a person, are all veteran Clinton hacks). General Clark's candidacy is the Anybody But Dean campaign. With a twist. The twist is that Hillary Clinton's name will soon be floated as his running mate. The message will be that Clark-Clinton will unite the party. All of this has happened or will soon happen before a single vote has been cast. That's how much front-loading the primary schedule has exaggerated the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire and distorted the nomination process.
I still don't see this political odd couple geting together. Clark would wind up the first presidential nominee who couldn't get any airtime.

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