TWO STORIES in Monday's Post cast an interesting light on the Democratic primaries. The first reported that Al Gore has paid Naomi Wolf, a feminist writer, $15,000 a month to serve as a consultant on such matters as connecting with young voters and dressing in appealing colors. The second reported that Bill Bradley relies primarily on a close-knit team of advisers whom he has known for years, and who think nothing of sharing hotel rooms in order to save money. This helps to explain why the Gore campaign had spent $14 million as of last month, whereas Mr. Bradley had made do on $8.5 million.
But the contrast actually says more than that. In launching his first national campaign, Mr. Bradley has seemed content to rely on old collaborators. Mr. Gore, who has been part of three previous national campaigns, seems constantly in search of some bright new whiz to power him through the next one. In the process, he has spent lavishly on a revolving cast of consultants--including one, we now discover, who advised him to behave like an "alpha male." If Mr. Gore were more confident about his purpose in running for president, he would not need magical elixirs. The fact that his campaign sought to conceal payments to Ms. Wolf suggests that the candidate knows this well.
It is not just the wackier advisers who invite doubts about Mr. Gore. Two of his top campaign managers raise questions also. Tony Coelho, Mr. Gore's campaign chairman, has been criticized in a government report for questionable expenses and payments during his tenure as head of the United States pavilion at last year's World Exposition in Portugal. Meanwhile, Carter Eskew, who had previously worked for tobacco firms, was retained as Mr. Gore's top media strategist, notwithstanding Mr. Gore's trumpeted anti-tobacco passion.
A good president needs to assemble an able, stable staff. Mr. Gore's defenders may fairly say that leaders need to reach out broadly for advice, and that a troubled campaign such as Mr. Gore's needs to shuffle staff in order to regain momentum. It is not too late for Mr. Gore to show that he can run an effective campaign team, but the primaries are fast approaching.