Lets hash out a

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November 13, 2002 5:14 p.m.

Let’s hash out a hypothetical. What if there was a columnist for one of the prestige news weeklies and suddenly he completely lost his mind and started penning column after column about how he had taken command of a ragtag army of snails and lemurs who were running through the neighborhood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor?

Would there be an intervention? Would he lose his column? Or would things just keep going on as per usual with maybe a few people chiming in about his edgy new style and crackerjack reporting?

You guessed it: We’re talking about Howard Fineman.

Look at this final graf from his new article about Democratic power-brokers …

With Bill Clinton’s humiliation in last week’s election (Democrats lost virtually everywhere he campaigned), there is only one revered elder statesman figure left in the party, and it’s Sen. Ted Kennedy. The Democrats have decided to hold their convention in Boston, in good measure because, as one party insider told me, “Teddy wants it so much.” Kennedy’s support would be a crucial benefit to Kerry, his Senate colleague from Massachusetts, but the relationship between the two is chilly. Teddy seems somewhat taken with Edwards, as a matter of fact. But however much he is a symbol of faded liberalism to the GOP, Teddy is a power in the party — and his word about whom to support (and whom not to) will be pivotal.

Let’s take the first part of this. Bill Clinton humiliated? Is this cut and paste out of Karl Rove’s talking points or dictated over the phone? (Margaret Carlson churned the same CW here.) As nearly as I can tell, Bill Clinton campaigned for Mark Pryor, Gray Davis, Rahm Emanuel, Ed Rendell, Frank Lautenberg, Bill Richardson, etc. Did he also campaign for a lot of folks who totally got their butts kicked? Absolutely. But in case you hadn’t noticed Democrats pretty much all got their butts kicked last Tuesday. And they didn’t really need the former President’s help to accomplish that.

Now of course I’m a fan of the former president. How effective he was on the campaign trail is certainly debatable. And I certainly realize there are plenty of places in the country I probably wouldn’t send him to campaign. Like, say, Alabama or Mississippi, for instance. They don’t have philandering in those states so he really doesn’t go over very well there. Anyway, you get the idea.

But now let’s go on to the choice morsel. The revered elder statesman-power-broker isn’t Bill Clinton. It’s Teddy Kennedy. His support for president is pivotal.

This is pretty much the point where you’re talking your rag-tag army of snails and lemurs. What the hell is Fineman thinking? I’m a big fan of Teddy Kennedy’s. Big admirer. Love that he’s in the Senate. All that good stuff. But his support is really pretty damned far from being pivotal. I mean, he couldn’t even get his niece and especially his nephew over the hump in frigging Maryland this year.

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