Mike Gravel

Herman Cain’s latest YouTube offering is … well, it’s … you know what? Just watch it: Most pundits have had a hard time wrapping their mind around the video as a wise—or even intentional—campaign move. Politico’s Roger Simon tweeted that the video could be real, a hoax, or a staff joke accidentally made public. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake compared it to the surreal YouTube stylings of Mike Gravel in 2007.

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Freedom Freaks

Idov: Scenes from the Libertarian Party's tragicomic demise.

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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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On a sunny Saturday in New Hampshire not long ago, Dennis Kucinich laid out for me the path that would lead him to the presidency. "I think what will happen," he explained, "is that the tremendous demand for integrity and authenticity is going to cause my candidacy to emerge powerfully in the closing weeks of the primary campaign to change it all." The two of us were sitting in the backseat of an SUV driven by an aide, shuttling between campaign events.

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By now you may have seen one of fringe Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel's brilliantly weird new campaign ads in which not a word is spoken. Here's one: Regular readers will know that nominating campaign theme songs has become something of a running gag around here. Hence I'm going to offer our latest entry--the screamingly obvious soundtrack for any future Gravel commercials: It's sure to whip up the crowds at campaign rallies as well. (At least the kind of crowd that goes to see Mike Gravel....) --Michael Crowley

Mock Debate

Occasionally, the presidential primary debates serve as a forum for substantive exchanges on important issues. Most of the time, however, they feature rants and raves from the talented and crazy alike. Take this clip, for example, from the first Democratic debate, in which former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel harangues the top-tier candidates (and Joe Biden) about pre-emptive nuclear strikes: The key to winning the "debates" is not to present nuanced or reasonable arguments about policy. It's about getting in the best soundbite.

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Mike Gravel, doing his earnest best to destroy the Democratic party's image. Can't someone intervene to get him out of future debates? --Michael Crowley

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