Thursday’s must-reads

Topics: War Room,

And Then There Were Eight …
Looks like there will continue to be a Men Only sign on the door of the White House after all. Carol Moseley Braun is dropping out of the race today and will throw her support to Howard Dean. The Chicago Tribune reports the pair got friendly in recent months, and the endorsement was sealed after the debate in Iowa in which the Rev. Al Sharpton ripped Dean for not appointing enough minorities to his Cabinet in Vermont as governor – and Braun jumped to Dean’s defense. At a private meeting in Des Moines the next day, Braun quizzed Dean about affirmative action, and apparently decided she liked what she heard.

Will Dean go the way of Petfood.Com?
Comparing Howard Dean’s candidacy to a Silicon Valley start-up, the Washington Post wonders aloud if Dean can turn his “cyber-innovation” into flesh and blood voters at the bricks and mortar polls. Unlike past establishment-fave frontrunners who sustained similar attacks at this stage in the race – George W. in 2000, for example — Dean “remains a candidate dependent on a grass-roots army that is untested in the rigors of primaries and caucuses and unpredictable if things go badly,” writes the Post’s Dan Balz.”The question that will be answered in the days ahead is whether Dean has built his campaign on a solid foundation or one that will fracture if there is a setback or defeat.”

Parsing Clark’s comments
Gen. Wesley Clark learns the perils of soundbite journalism — and feels the scrutiny that follows climbing in the polls. On the Iraq-al Qaeda question, abortion, and his position on the Iraq war, Clark’s comments have seemed to political reporters, the RNC and some of Clark’s Democratic opponents to be inconsistent. Dean’s campaign questions whether Clark is a “real Democrat” (Dean himself called Clark a downright Republican yesterday), Joe Lieberman says Clark “flip-flops,” and the RNC’s Stop Clark propaganda asks “Careless Clark: Unprepared, Unprincipled or Both?”



Another Troopergate, or a non-story?
ABC News digs up a story about the former head of Howard Dean’s security detail, who allegedly was a spouse abuser. ABC’s “exclusive” from its investigative unit asks: “What did he know about abuse allegations, when did he know it?” The report questions whether Dean should have filed an affidavit saying the state trooper was a good father. There’s no evidence that Dean actually knew this guy was an abuser. Only the New York Post has picked up the story so far, under the headline Wife-Abuse Stunner. The blogger Atrios provides a telling history of the producer involved in the ABC story, Chris Vlasto, the man who first brought you Monica’s semen-stained dress and other sundries from the Clinton scandal beat.

When Gephardt attacks
Dick Gephardt is campaigning in Iowa as if his political life depended on it. With only four days left before Iowa, and with polls showing a possible statistical 4-way tie, Gephardt’s gone negative – but Dean is getting the brunt of the nastiness. Gephardt on Dean: “It’s become nearly impossible to know what Howard Dean really believes. To me, there is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction. I believe in standing for something.” Dean’s response: “Dick Gephardt is part of the old problem. So are some of the other folks. They are all good people, but they are Washington people. Let’s not kid ourselves about this. These guys are looking at the end of their careers if I win. So they are going to do anything they can to stop me.”

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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