There but for the grace of God...
How 'bout that Howard Dean on caucus night? Kinda makes ya glad not to have known him during his drinking years, eh?
An officer and a prickly pear
Then there was Wesley Clark's turn on the playground with Bob Dole, care of Larry King. Dole did his characteristic thing, something I call a blark. (A combination of a blurt and a bark.)
"I think [Kerry]'s going to benefit a great deal in New Hampshire. Somebody has to lose," Dole said to Clark on air. "Now, of course, you don't want it to be you but I think it may be you."
Clark began to flail around talking about leadership, when Dole blarked: "I think just politically you just became a colonel instead of a general..."
Ooooo...a nerve was struck.
"Senator, with all due respect, he's a lieutenant and I'm a general," Clark retorted. (I winced.) "You got to get your facts on this. He was a lieutenant in Vietnam. I've done all of the big leadership."
Yeah, but who's got the best banana seat on his Stingray?
If I wasn't getting paid, I wasn't really fired...
Meanwhile, on MSNBC, Chris Matthews tossed around Chris Lehane, Gen. Clark's media adviser, like a cat tormenting a baby squirrel.
Lehane did little to enhance his own image when he turned up on Matthews' show to make hay out of Kerry's apparent reluctance to release his tax returns of the last five years, thus giving Matthews a wide opening. You see, Lehane worked for the Kerry campaign early on, abruptly left, then resurfaced in the general's convoy.
Matthews baited the tax return accusation out of Lehane, and then asked, "Tell me something: were you fired?"
An uncomfortable back-and-forth ensued with Matthews, using his customary bluster, repeatedly asking the question, and Lehane not exactly denying it.
"I just want to know, were you fired?" Matthews went on. "You're sure you weren't fired? You weren't told to leave?"
It played on like this for a while, with Matthews clearly evincing some distrust of the general for coming late to the Democratic Party, which for Matthews seems to be the same body as the Roman Catholic Church.
"Well, the fact that you have wrong is that I was a volunteer for [Kerry]," Lehane replied. "I was not working for him in an employment capacity. So you should at least get your facts straight before you start down that path."
In fairness to Lehane, I must mention his assertion of having "captured" some direct-mail pieces form the Kerry campaign that rag on General Clark's business background.
One hopes that before this gets any worse, the two vets pick up their heads to look at where the sniping got Gehardt and Dean in Iowa.
You'll need to scroll nearly to the end of the Matthews transcript linked above in order to find the Lehane exchange.
Labor's loves lost...
It was hard not to feel sad about Gephardt's poor showing. He wasn't my guy, but he's a pretty good guy. Guess that's how most of those Iowans felt, too.
But combine that with Dean's third-place finish, and you come up with a very bad night for organized labor. Gephardt had vitually all the manufacturing and other blue-collar unions behind him. And Dean boasted the hard-won endorsements of two big service-sector unions.
Which begs the question, will labor be able to turn out the vote in 2004? (See Tom Edsall's analysis.)
On a wink and a smile...
That John Edwards...such a sunny guy! Too bad he supports privatization of the U.S. government. 'Cause he's just so smart and smooth and elegant in an upscale, high-style Southern restaurant kind of a way. (Free-range, batter-dipped corn-fed chicken, dressed with sweet-potato purée and served with mustard greens en terrine.)
The hair has it...
The caucus winner did seem presidential, didn't he? Whatever that means. (I mean, look what we got in the White House now.)
Enough snarkiness, already!
Okay, okay! Truth be told, any one of these guys would make a fine presidential nominee. They all have substance, they're all very smart, and they all could make some hash out of Bush. Let's hope they don't put each other through the meat grinder first.