Monday, December 16, 2002

Now, Kerry versus Lieberman. The New Republic's Ryan Lizza, in a dispatch today for TNR Online, makes the case that Joe Lieberman will be the chief beneficiary of Al Gore's decision not to run for president in 2004. Of course, Lieberman's right-of-center Democratic Leadership Council credentials make him a favorite of TNR. In the current print edition, editor Peter Beinart actually urges Lieberman to run against Gore, a personal friend of the magazine's editor-in-chief and chairman, Marty Peretz.

Still, Lizza is right. What Gore may have guaranteed is a showdown between John Kerry and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party versus Lieberman, the best hope of the moderates. With a primary schedule even more front-loaded than 2000's, there will be a huge premium on candidates who are already well-known and who can raise vast amounts of money before the first vote is cast. No dark horses need apply. Sorry, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, Tom Daschle, John Edwards, etc., etc. (Although John Ellis, interestingly, sees it as Lieberman-Gephardt.)

The New Yorker has already published long profiles of Kerry (marred by a rare lapse by writer Joe Klein, as reported by the Globe's Alex Beam) and Lieberman (by Jeffrey Toobin). Both pieces were positive, to say the least. But you can't understand the candidates unless you first understand how they see themselves, before the political and media spinners start ripping them apart. A plea to editor David Remnick: put the pieces online!

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