Sunday, January 25, 2004

# Posted 1:28 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TALK SHOW ROUND-UP: I spent an hour this morning in front of a 60-inch television (not my own) flipping back and forth between Meet the Press, Face the Nation and This Week. For the first time, I actually saw the primal scream instead of just reading about it. And I thought to myself, "This is news?" Actually, the whole story is total bullsh**.

As one of Chris Matthews' guests pointed out, journalists in the hall with Dean didn't think twice about the scream (or "squawk", whichmight be more accurate) . It was a loud, energetic event. Only the after-spin turned the scream into an issue. But after seeing interviews this morning with Kerry, Clark, Edwards and Lieberman, I have to say that none of them had the energy that Dean displayed in the moments leading up to the scream. Watching Dean was actually exciting, even inspiring. Here's was someone who really cared about politics, whose passion seemed authentic.

Does that mean I'll vote for him? Hell no. But I think it speaks to how the press is spinning Dean's anger management issues. As the LAT's Ron Brownstein pointed out, candidates always get punished for doing something that confirms negative stereotypes about them. If Bill Clinton misspelled potato, no one would've noticed. Then again, perhaps the media should ignore such pseudo-events. Especially in this instance, where I don't think what Dean did says anything about his character.

So, moving on. None of the other candidates particularly impressed me. Whatever you ask them, they have a pleasant sounding answer. Many of those answers are truthful, but still less than informative. The one candidate who seemed to have trouble offering vague platitudes was Wes Clark. When George Stephanopolous asked him about the inconsistency of the war, his answer seemed desperate, as well as misleading. Clark said that his April op-ed was taken out of context.

Actually, as Steve Sachs has shown, the context is the most damning part of it. Any single sentence in Clark's op-ed could be spun as somehow anti-war. But all together, they add up to a clear pro-war message. Which is probably why Clark looked so pleading and defensive during his interview. There's just this look in his eyes that says "Please stop ruining my resume! I'm supposed to look presidential!"

Finally, the comedy highlight of the week: Howard Dean's cameo on Letterman, presenting a Top 10 list poking fun at himself. He really delivered the lines well, with the right timing and the right attitude. But will Howard Dean's sense of humor become next week's meme? No, of course not.

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