A Race Is What We've Now Got

SPIN ALLEY IS ONE OF THE WEIRDER VENUES OF MODERN U.S. politics. It is the room where reporters gather after a debate to be serenaded by the respective candidates' handlers and allies. There is a Roman Colosseum feel to the scene: each gladiator is trailed by a lackey carrying a large placard with his or her name in big block letters, so you can track ROVE and LOCKHART working the room. Which was how I found out that John Kerry had won last week's first encounter with George W. Bush.

An hour after the debate, all the Kerry spinners were gone...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!