Saturday, January 24, 2004

Lots of interesting stuff in the WaPo much so that I've spent the day reading it instead of blogging.

Firstly -- and most importantly, of course -- is a report on the news that Jaromir Jagr has left the Caps for the bright lights of Broadway.

Michael Wilbon uses the trade as a peg to ask the question Why is Washington DC such a graveyard for sporting superstars?

I'm just glad I'm able to say that I saw Jagr's last home games in a Caps shirt, although when I told a colleague this over brunch her response was "Who's Jaromir Jagr?"

The Post also reports on attempts by everyone's favourite corporate bogeyman, Wal-Mart to improve its image -- and after the New York Times story I referred to in a posting a few days ago it certainly needs an image face-lift.

I saw the feelgood TV ads the Post refers to after reading the New York Times's story of how the company locks its employees in overnight and nearly fell off my chair laughing at the rose-tinted, air-brushed image of the company it portrays.

Find out more about the company's employment, environmental and social impact at Walmart Watch.

Alternatively, this page probably tells you everything you need to know about the company's ethos.

Then there's the news that General Wesley Clark's campaign to become the Democratic presidential candidate is running out of steam.

His performance at the New Hampshire debate on Thursday night was certainly less than convincing and it seems his decision to skip the Iowa Caucuses and go straight to New Hampshire was a strategic mistake.

With Howard Dean now reduced to a figure of fun, all the momentum is with John Kerry. He's12 points ahead in the polls and is looking unstoppable right now. Unless he slips up badly between now and so-called "Tidal Wave Tuesday" on February 3rd, the Democratic nomination is looking to be his for the taking.

Talking of Dean, he was the subject of a piece I produced with Justin Webb for Radio 4's PM programme tonight.

We wanted to explore how the Dean campaign has collapsed as a result of his poor showing in Iowa and his subsequent, now-infamous yelp -- and look at whether he can get back on track.

There are two interesting parallels in American political history.

On the negative side: In 1972, Edmund Muskie was a front-runner for the Democratic nomination. During the New Hampshire primary, he choked with anger and seemed to cry following a number of negative newspaper articles about him and his wife. The result was that he was perceived as weak and incapable of leadership, and his campaign collapsed.

More hopefully for Dean...In January 1992 Gennifer Flowers caused a scandal by claiming she was Bill Clinton's lover for 12 years. Bill Clinton appeared on television alongside Hillary to present their side of the story and try to salvage his presidential hopes. Clinton finished second in New Hampshire and he dubbed himself "the Comeback Kid."

My feeling? Dean is finished...there'll be no comeback.

You can hear the finished report for PM here. It's just under 3 minutes long.

One final news story I want to mention....Colin Powell's concession that Iraq may not have possessed any stocks of weapons of mass destruction before the war.

I hate to say I told you so....but I so told you so.

Ever get the feeling you've been lied to -- and then lied to again and again?


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