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Special All-Negativity Edition

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2007; 9:28 AM

I have surveyed the media landscape, and it is my sad duty to report that no one has anything good to say about any of the '08 contenders.

They are, without fail, a bunch of misguided hacks and befuddled losers, who might make halfway decent presidential candidates if only they had the wisdom to listen to the pundits who are trashing their campaigns.

The dog days have officially arrived--it's August--and the race has been kind of static. Maybe the heat is making some people cranky. But I've just been reading one thumbs-down posting after another.

Hillary, as I noted the other day, has gotten some grudging recognition even from conservatives. But now that we're all supposed to talk about her cleavage--or how she's trying to raise money by decrying the Washington Post fashion column about her flash of skin--the chatter is a little less favorable.

First up in our game of piƱata is Fred Thompson, who has somehow been branded a disappointment without actually getting in the race. That has to be some kind of indoor record, dontcha think? How dare he raise only $3 million in the last quarter?

"Many Republicans had seen the 'Law & Order' actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee as a potential savior in a tough election cycle," says Politico's Mike Allen. "He attracted support from such top-shelf party figures as Mary Matalin, Liz Cheney, George P. Bush and other GOP stalwarts who saw him as a potential Hillary Clinton slayer. But many Republicans have turned queasy as Thompson has ousted part of his original brain trust and repeatedly delayed his official announcement, which is now planned for shortly after Labor Day, in the first two weeks of September. Some are already saying a prospective Thompson run is a flop."

The New York Sun's Ryan Sager says Fred's fundraising haul isn't terrible, but:

"Thompson boosters have been saying that Republican fundraising -- in comparison to the Democrats -- has been slow because donors were waiting for a Thompson-like candidate to jump in. Well, Mr. Thompson's essentially in, and the money is nothing spectacular.

"The argument that this can't be judged like an active campaign is convenient for the Thompson folks, but it doesn't hold much water . . .

"The argument that they're just holding back because this is a 'testing the waters' committee -- and to do otherwise would run afoul of the law -- is just silly. If their burn rate is really less than 20%, then they're already raising more money than they need. They would have loved to have blown us all way with $5-6 million."

Why does Obama seem to have stagnated? Slate's John Dickerson has a theory:

"Obama receives his highest marks in polls from people who think he is new, fresh, and inspiring. If voters vote with their hearts, his experience problems might not matter that much. His candidacy also will test how voters assimilate their feelings about George Bush. Bush had no foreign-policy experience, and while he was surrounded by people who did have such experience, he has proven that there's no substitute for actual knowledge. On the other hand, voters are so depressed after the Bush presidency (70 percent of the public think the country is going in the wrong direction) they might rush to a candidate who seems able to electrify the country.


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