TNR: Stage Left

Posted tonight (from the 2/3 issue) at The New Republic is a great summary of the candidates who went before NARAL this week. Dean gets the most positive write-up of the six:

[Dean’s] style is to grab the political live wire that everyone else is terrified of touching. And so Dean took partial-birth abortion, NARAL‘s most controversial and difficult-to-defend position, and made it the centerpiece of his speech, insisting that the term itself was an artifice manufactured by the right. “This is an issue about nothing,” he proclaimed to the most boisterous applause of the evening. He then moved on to the next most divisive issue: parental notification. One of his twelve-year-old patients became pregnant after she was raped by her father, the Vermont physician said. “You explain that to the American people who think that parental notification is a good idea.”

The Dean campaign has been going through cycles that are the opposite of the Edwards campaign: Long periods where everyone forgets about him are followed by bursts of great publicity and hype. He’s on the cusp of another one of those surges. All recent reports from Iowa and New Hampshire say that he is electrifying the party faithful.

The other candidates were mostly predictable. Lieberman was uninspiring (“Lieberman hasn’t figured out how to talk about values without simply repeating the word over and over again”), Edwards had another “unexpected thud” (“Edwards seems to go through cycles of exceedingly high expectations and intense media buzz punctuated by disappointing public performances that leave one wondering, ‘What is all the fuss about?’”), Sharpton was entertaining (he “was funny, served up a freezer full of ideological red meat, and left the podium to cheers from an audience packed with wealthy white women”).

The article also notes that Dean has largely inherited Bradley’s campaign from 2000, while Kerry has inherited Gore’s. Full article is here.

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