CAMPAIGN '96: IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING

FORGET ABOUT REASONED DISCOURSE OR RESONANT ISSUES. THE CAMPAIGN HAS SHIFTED INTO RAPID-RESPONSE MODE, IN WHICH EVERY ATTACK MUST BE ANSWERED INSTANTLY

At the high table of presidential politics, primary campaigns are sumptuous nine-course affairs. Aspiring candidates put on long white aprons, line up behind tables full of flickering Sterno, and dish out issues and arguments to fatten the voters. This year the smorgasbord from Iowa to California groaned under all the offerings: flattening the tax structure, abolishing free-trade agreements, limiting the terms of lawmakers, reinventing welfare or health care or public housing or farm subsidies, spending more on defense, cutting this agency or that, restricting immigration. In this context voters could come to believe that those they elected would determine what kind...

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