Friday | September 26, 2003
Cattle Call 2004: 9/26
Watching the debate last night, it was interesting to see how the field all but ignored Wesley Clark. There are two possible reasons: 1) Clark didn't give them anything to criticize, avoiding policy specifics for vague philosophical ideals (how do you criticize "a new patriotism"?), or 2) they didn't want to give Clark a boost by targeting him (much the way Dean got a boost from Kerry's attacks at the first DNC candidate forum in South Carolina).
Or perhaps they consider him a flash-in-the-pan, with little long-term staying power. It was clear the field still considered Dean the frontrunner. Whether he is or isn't remains to be seen, I suppose.
last week's rankings: 1) Dean, 2) Gephardt, 3) Clark, 4) Edwards, 5) Lieberman, 6) Kerry, 7) Graham, 8) Braun, 9) Sharpton, and 10) Kucinich.
1. Howard Dean
The main field still considers Dean the frontrunner, as evident by the attacks during last night's debate.
But he's still drawing huge crowds at rallies, the money is streaming in (by all reports), and Clark's entrance actually helped take some of that frontrunner's glare off him as the press shifted from parsing his every word, to parsing Clark's every word.
2. Wesley Clark
However, that RNC video heralds trouble. Personally, I don't give a shit about whether he was once a Republican (I voted for Bush I, as I have painfully admitted several times). I welcome all former Republicans to the warm embrace of the Democratic Party. And that goes double for high-profile individuals like Clark. And his answer to the question at the debate was masterful -- clearly his high point for the night (and for the debate, in my opinion).
But it really is painful seeing Clark praise Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney at an RNC picnic, and he's going to take a hit from the base on it. And the cable news channels are having lots of fun with it, using any excuse to run it again.
3. Dick Gephardt
His attacks on Dean ("he stood with Gingrich") are clearly designed to strip Dean's increasingly strong labor support. Whether they are successful remains to be seen. Lieberman's attacks seemed to backfire. But then again, so much is going wrong with Lieberman it's hard to pinpoint the exact causes, and the level of impact each of them had.
4. John Edwards
He was able to "stay above the fray" in last night's debate, which is always helpful. But that's because everyone else ignored him. The rest of the field is clearly not spooked by Edwards just yet.
5. John Kerry
6. Joe Lieberman
All eyes will be on those Q3 numbers. The press wants to winnow down this field, and Lieberman (along with Graham) are the first two obvious choices. If Lieberman disappoints, the pressure may increase for him to exit the race.
8. Carol Moseley-Braun
9. Al Sharpton
10. Dennis Kucinich
Of course, the questioner asked for one unpopular policy he would pursue, and Kucinich responded with three items. Kind of suggests that he isn't really trying that hard to get elected.
Maybe he's trying to build a Nader-like progressive network. Start a think tank. That sort of thing.Posted September 26, 2003 09:16 AM | Comments (264)