Michael Crowley

The Hillary Frenzy

                                                      With the media in a minor frenzy over Hillary Clinton's debate performance Tuesday night, I'm questioning my own judgment. After all, I had initially declared Hillary's performance not so bad. We'll see how much average voters think about her "bad" moments, including that awkward exchange on drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and her obfuscation on her White House papers. But the media has clearly been longing to "correct" the Hillary bubble lest the race became a total dud.

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Idle Worship

When Fred Thompson finally joined the presidential field last month, Newsweek greeted him with a cover story that bored into the essential question about the man: Is he too lazy to win? The answer seems to be yes, and, for evidence, the article cited Thompson's reluctance at the Minnesota State Fair to meet the sculptor of the Butter Princess, a 90-pound female bust carved from pure butter. He apparently wanted a strawberry milkshake instead and had to be coaxed into greeting the dairy sculptor.

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The Jerk

What made Ted Stevens such a famously bitter and vindictive man? Some people will tell you that the defining moment in the life of the powerful Alaska Republican senator, currently the target of a federal bribery investigation that threatens to end his storied career in disgrace, occurred at the end of an airport runway in 1978. In early December, Stevens was flying in a friend's small private plane from Juneau to Anchorage. The descending plane was just a few feet above the runway when it was caught by a sudden gust of wind that slammed it into the ground.

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Hope Sinks

A few weeks ago, Barack Obama added a new coda to his stump speech. In the telling, versions of which I heard about six times earlier this month, Obama wakes up at the crack of dawn. His staff reminds him that, for reasons he can't remember, he has promised to visit a supporter in the tiny town of Greenwood, South Carolina, more than an hour's drive from where he has overnighted. Departure time: six a.m. He opens the morning's paper to find "a bad story" about himself. Tired and cranky, he steps out into a downpour, and his umbrella blows inside out.

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The Jerk

What made Ted Stevens such a famously bitter and vindictive man? Some people will tell you that the defining moment in the life of the powerful Alaska Republican senator, currently the target of a federal bribery investigation that threatens to end his storied career in disgrace, occurred at the end of an airport runway in 1978. In early December, Stevens was flying in a friend's small private plane from Juneau to Anchorage. The descending plane was just a few feet above the runway when it was caught by a sudden gust of wind that slammed it into the ground. Stevens somehow survived the crash.

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Buyer's Remorse

Claremont, New Hampshire On a recent mid-July morning, John McCain bounded out of a silver SUV outside American Legion Post 29. So much for the cheering crowds--eagerly awaiting him was a gang of hecklers and fringe activists, including a 9/11 conspiracy theorist ("Senator, are you a victim of mind control?") and a man in a McCain mask dressed as a seaman and shaking a beggar's tin cup.

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As a rising St. Louis politician in the mid-1970s, Richard Gephardtwas among a dynamic group of aldermen dubbed "The Young Turks." Soperhaps it's not surprising that, 30 years later, the formerDemocratic minority leader of the House of Representatives has agedinto an Old Turk. This spring, Gephardt has been busy promoting hisnew favorite cause--not universal health care or Iraq, but theRepublic of Turkey, which now pays his lobbying firm, DLA Piper,$100,000 per month for his services.

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As a rising St. Louis politician in the mid-1970s, Richard Gephardt was among a dynamic group of aldermen dubbed "The Young Turks." So perhaps it's not surprising that, 30 years later, the former Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives has aged into an Old Turk. This spring, Gephardt has been busy promoting his new favorite cause--not universal health care or Iraq, but the Republic of Turkey, which now pays his lobbying firm, DLA Piper, $100,000 per month for his services.

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Fly Boy

People devote huge amounts of attention to the U.S. Congress--but most of us know almost nothing about how our legislature works.

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Astar had just been born when, a day after the May 15 Republicanpresidential debate in South Carolina, I met Texas RepresentativeRon Paul for lunch on Capitol Hill. The meeting had been scheduledfor several days; but, as luck would have it, the previous nightPaul had gone from an oddball obscurity to a major sensation in thepolitical world when, answering a question about September 11, heseemed to suggest that the attacks were justified by an aggressiveU.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. "They attack us becausewe've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for ten years," Paulexplained.

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