The Politics Junkie

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All papers lead politics section with Lieberman Day 2, except WP, which wheels out another installment in The Life of Gore: The botched 1988 presidential campaign, before Clinton got to him. (He wasn't that different.) Prickly but illuminating. NYT leads hard with Gore's rally for his new running mate, the Happiest Jewish Guy on Earth. Apparently Gore's tolerance problem is solved — did he have one before?

USAT lays out a Gore "triple play": "blunting GOP attacks on integrity and character, proving Democrats are the true party of diversity, and redefining Gore as a bold and thoughtful leader." That last one's a tall order — but if anybody can come back to win a baseball game by playing defense, it's Gore. WSJ leads with the "emotional" rally too, calling it Gore's try "to reinvigorate his struggling campaign and shift its emphasis back toward the center."

Sidekicks

NYT does a postmortem on a very Gore selection process: deeply political and extremely anal. Lobbying, oaths of secrecy, the calculated crossing-off of names — ditch the diary, Bob Graham — though Gore does get points for discretion. Yet NYT is shocked, shocked: "Such was the sophistication of Mr. Gore's selection stagecraft that even leaks were orchestrated for maximum effect." Heavy access to aides results in a heavily spun story — "Again and again, Mr. Gore's search was shaped by gritty political concerns that had little bearing on what he had repeatedly described as his single most important criterion for a running mate: someone possessed of the experience and ability to assume the presidency if necessary." Or is it me?

Quoth the Times: "Eager to win over women, Mr. Gore has emphasized that several women were under strong consideration. Last week, as interest was peaking over Mr. Gore's progress, his campaign let it be known that one of his finalists was a woman, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, even though she had already said she would turn down the job and even though one person involved in Mr. Gore's screening process said she had not been under serious consideration for some time."

WP does Lieberman's record with a classic bait-and-switch piece — three paragraphs of Lieberman-as-McCain on campaign finance reform, and then this: "But he may be less of a maverick than he sometimes appears." Yes, parsing legislative résum´es does get complicated. For sure, he's the "conscience of the Senate" and tends to lurch right on family values. And he can get "a little sanctimonious or politically self-serving." At least that's what some anonymous senators said.

USAT does the record too, alighting on Social Security privatization as the likely winner out of all this: "Lieberman's selection Monday delighted advocates of partially shifting Social Security into a privately controlled investment and savings program."

WSJ fills out with a Capital Journal on Gore's uphill battle, and is fascinated — rightly — with the Clinton legacy that Lieberman doesn't counter: The Democrats' move to the center. Lieb is DLC head and an Al From guy, just like Clinton, and he's gone places in centrism that Gore hasn't dreamed about yet. You can almost hear the cackling.

Summarily Dismissed

"George J. Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, for example, never made it to the short list, at least in part because of his work as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, people involved in the search said. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana faced opposition from pro-choice groups and gave his assent to a campaign aimed at countering criticism over his voting record on abortion, but faded nonetheless. Senator Bob Graham of Florida was hurt by his habit of filling diaries with mundane aspects of his day, a practice some in the Gore campaign worried would be viewed as eccentric." (NYT)

Reform Party Mitosis (Or Is It Meiosis?): Which One Do We Not Vote For?

NYT is bemused at a stalemate: "After the walkout, each group declared itself the true Reform Party, depicting the other as a bunch of rule-breaking misfits who have either stolen the party (Mr. Buchanan's supporters) or destroyed it (his opponents)."

WP gives it to Buchanan: "Backers of Patrick J. Buchanan's presidential campaign today gained control of the Reform Party apparatus in a closed national committee meeting... Buchanan's success increases the likelihood that he will win the Reform Party nomination and the federal funds that go with it."

WSJ gives it to Buchanan too, and ledes best: "Fractious and fragmented, the Reform Party careened toward its national convention here with only one certainty: The party that Ross Perot created is gone, perhaps forever."

Please read in silence for a moment.

WP said "rump" meeting. Heh heh.

Passing the 'He Likes Me' Test

"Dear Lord, maker of all miracles, I thank you for bringing me to this extraordinary moment in my life. And Al Gore, I thank you for making this miracle possible for me and breaking this barrier for the rest of America forever." —Joe Lieberman (WSJ)

Back and Forth

"This selection now presents the vice president with an interesting test of whether he will continue attacking positions his running mate shares." —George W. Bush (NYT)

"With all due respect, I think that's like saying that the veterinarian and the taxidermist are in the same business because either way you get your dog back." —Joe Lieberman (NYT)

"We have discovered widespread fraud beyond what we have already reported, and we will announce a federal lawsuit tomorrow against Buchanan personally and against his campaign for triple damages according to federal statute." —Jim Mangia, Perotista Reform secretary (WP)

"It's over now... We've won fair and square." —Bay Buchanan (WP)