James B. Chapin, political analyst for UPI, has this to say about Gore’s chances of securing the Democratic nomination in 2004:
Since Gore is right in the center of his party, whomever this challenger is will, perforce, find himself a touch too far to the right or to the left to win the nomination. That’s the advantage that present media coverage gives to the guy on top — he has lots of time to position himself JUST so, while his last-minute opponent, whomever it may turn out to be, doesn’t have time to figure out where to put himself. He’s “stuck” with whatever got him the last month’s headlines.
This is a cogent observation about how the news media affects the political process. It is for exactly this reason that Sen. John Edwards is campaigning in the Carolinas this week. Campaigns for president no longer have beginnings and endings. The campaign is constant.
Working further in Gore’s favor is journalism’s penchant for perpetuating unexamined master narratives. Gore is the front-runner because he was the loser in a tight race yet the winner of the popular vote. The master narrative must see the two antagonists meet again on the streets of Dodge City for a final shoot-out in 2004. Chapin may be right that no other democrat has a chance. But then pop-punditry claims Gore lost a campaign that could not be lost, so…