Clinton War Stories

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There’s a quote from me in today’s WP about how “we only have so many stories to write, and we’re running out of them.” This story, also in the WP, may be kind of story that results from the primaries going on so unbearably long. The process story is not a new genre, and I have not been observing campaigns for as long as my colleagues, but, at least compared to last cycle, this level of detail — and story length — about a campaign staff’s bickering didn’t appear until the general, did it? (UPDATE: I have just realized that The Google can help answer this question and I shall ask it. See note below about the coffee intake level when I wrote this.) This cycle, coverage of the McCain implosion seems an exception, since it was a full-on implosion and not simply subtle changes and rivalries that are naked to the non-obsessed eye. And even then, there was probably too much of it. (Especially since all those pronouncements of death have given so many cause for chagrin.)

UPDATE: Here’s a Google archive search for “infighting+presidential+primary+campaign” in news stories from 2003 and 2004. It is mostly picking up stories about bouts between primary candidates, not among a candidates’ staff: A notable exception is coverage of Kerry’s decision to change campaign managers in November of 2003. And this back-looking tick-tock of Dean’s operation, post-pull-out, which I’d argue is a different genre. If anyone has suggestions for a better search, or other ways to prove that I should not post before my second cup, lemme know.

More marginally hypocritical navel-gazing [That may be irrelevant if you think I’ve now disproved my own thesis! — amc] after the jump.

I admit I found Clinton piece is fascinating, in a soap-opera way, but it’s also not incredibly helpful in shedding new light on the character of the candidate. (Which is the typical justification for process stories to begin with — and even then, sometimes I think we should just create a zine for them and not ply them onto the public at large… we could call it Forced Exposure! Or maybe we could relegate it to blogs…)

I realize I have very much cracked the windows in my own glass house here, but these are my pre-coffee thoughts on this beautiful early spring morning. And here’s one more: I also told Kurtz that I was fearful of being forced to read or write yet another “when will she get out” stories. Since space is limited in the world of paper and ink, I understand why he left out the context of that remark, but I thought I’d add some here: I was talking specifically about how the MSM has been writing those stories for weeks, and yet there are clearly many, many, many people out there who would love the chance to vote for her. She’s not a Huckabee-esque spoiler, garnering protest votes, she’s a strong candidate, a close second in most contests, whose future is complicated by an unprecedented electoral situation (the combination of DNC rulings, the calendar that prompted them, and superdelegates’ having an impact on the final decision).

I’m not a fan hers by any means, and I think her staff has made some laughably bad decisions — but voters keep responding to her. Instead of arguing she should get out, I’d love some insight on why so many Americans want to keep her in.