--Claire Brinberg, 360 Producer
Enough About Them
Let's talk about ME and my feeeeelings, and why I find myself consumed with anxiety as my flight lifts off from New Hampshire.
I'm in a cramped window seat, in the back of a small and noisy prop plane. Behind me, in the very last row, sits Wesley Clark, the retired general who mounted a much-anticipated, but ultimately disappointing run for the White House four years ago.
I remember traveling to Little Rock with Judy Woodruff, my former boss and dear friend, to interview Clark the day before he announced his campaign. It felt like such a big deal...a real moment in history. For a brief time that summer, Clark embodied the dreams of the Democratic party, and dominated the media chatter. He had worldly intelligence... military integrity... charm. He was an outsider, but not a freaky outsider. Just outsidery enough to seem like a refreshing break from the status quo.
And now he's back with me in steerage, on a flight that doesn't even offer a choice of beverage. Just water. Twice the flight attendent scolded him that his bag wasn't properly tucked away.
General Clark reminds me how often we in the media lose touch with reality. We find an ambitious man, make him the vessel for all our hopes and dreams, build him up and watch him fall. We don't know him all that well, but we decide that he counts.
Fred Thompson is this year's Wes Clark.
Clark was in New Hampshire this week to campaign for Senator Hillary Clinton. For a huge swath of 2007, we reporter types were measuring the White House drapes on her behalf. And now we're gleefully zooming-in on her tear ducts.
For most of 2007, I believed Senator Clinton would be the next president. She seemed organized and inevitable...thoroughly prepared for a bruising campaign. I was convinced she'd be the Democratic nominee, much as I was certain that John McCain would not be his party's pick.
But this year booms went bust and busts went boom.
The 2007 campaign was dominated by boomlets and anti-boomlets. The summer boomlets (Fred the Gipper, Rudy Beloved-By-All-Republicans) and anti-boomlets (remember Timid Obambi and Imploding McCain?) feel like a whole 'nother era.
If I've learned anything this year, it's that the only relevant boomlets and anti-boomlets are the ones that happen two weeks before an election. The others just give us talkers stuff to talk about.
On Caucus Thursday, I had no idea how Iowa would vote. On Primary Tuesday, I feel like I've got a better handle on New Hampshire.
But I'm still anxious. 'Cause after tonight the whole game will change. But I have no idea how. That sense of uncertainty is both exciting and unsettling.
When we land, General Clark and I are the last ones off the plane.
"Gotta love the back," I say.
"Keeps you humble," he replies.
Indeed it does.