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The media is certainly capable of artificially inflating a trivial error into a disaster that can wreck a political career–as the media did when Dan Quayle used a spelling of “potato” that was proper in the mid-twentieth century, but which had become archaic by the 1990s. Howard Dean’s speech to his supporters in Iowa last night strikes me as even less important, substantively, than “potato(e).” Dean struck a tone that’s more typical of a college football coach than of a typical presidential candidate–but the speech hardly showed that Dean was going crazy, or having a breakdown, or any other mental problem. John Kerry’s use of the “f-word” was likewise more appropriate for a locker room than for a Presidential interview–but I don’t think that Kerry’s error in tone proves that he is unfit to be President. If I lived in New Hampshire, I would vote for Lieberman, but if I were inclined to vote for Dean, the Iowa speech would not make me waver in the slightest.


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