Gripped with a mixture of dread and anticipatory ennui about the approach of the endless campaign, a nation yearns for political excitement. And lo, right on schedule, comes the fix: the quadrennial media romance with the center. With a pox on both their houses, with a jaundiced dismissal of prospective presidential candidates of all shapes, sizes and established parties, comes the celebration of what is called the radical center.

First onstage are the shock troops, the rabid Perotistas who appeared in Dallas just a few weeks ago. Now come the leaders: Colin Powell, in the midst of his book-tour campaign; Bill...

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