You'd thinkpolitics would be like, say, classical music-that the more you know about it,the less interested you would be in the obvious stuff. Just as no real classicalmusic maven ever seems to talk about Vivaldi or Beethoven or Tchaikovsky, itwould seem that no real Washington insider would want to talk about big nationalraces. But that's not the way it works. From about this point in the electioncycle, Washington becomes one interminable discussion of the presidential race.There are half a dozen newsletters and a dozen websites devoted to trackingevery nebbish and every minor endorsement and campaign proposal. There are peoplein town who can give you the names and addresses of everyone in New Hampshirewho's endorsed John Kasich, tell you the middle name of Lamar Alexander's SouthCarolina field director and fax you Bob Smith's schedule in Iowa for two weeksfrom now.
The problemis that usually the candidates have something to talk about, and this year theydon't. Who is going to be able to stand 16 months of George Bush talking about"helping those left behind" and Al Gore talking about "buildinga more vital democracy" and "good strong, livable communities withgreen spaces." Or, for that matter, Bill Bradley. Bradley was on a 10-dayswing through California, a state that Gore has cultivated more assiduouslythan any other. Bradley 0sought to get to Gore's left by holding meetings withgay, feminist and union activists. No one was more puzzled at this than MargaretCarlson of Time magazine, who quipped that, to get to the left of AlGore on gays, Bradley would have to announce that he's gay himself. One thingBradley can do is garner basketball endorsements. The Lakers' new coachPhil Jackson, late of the Bulls, is on board. Bradley, in fact, could scorea major campaign coup if he could get Michael Jordan to do an ad alongside footageof Gore referring to the Bulls great as "Michael Jackson."