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  CNBC debate: Do or die for Clark?
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ContributorArmyDem 
Last EditedArmyDem  Sep 23, 2003 11:39pm
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CategoryAnalysis
MediaTV News - National Broadcasting Company MSNBC News
News DateTuesday, September 23, 2003 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionWASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — I know that what I am about to say may strike you as ridiculous. Political junkies will be justified in wondering whether I am engaging in hype, since I am a contract player with NBC and its cable affiliates. But I’ll say it anyway: The CNBC-Wall Street Journal debate this week in New York City could be a make-or-break event for Wesley Clark and, therefore, a pivotal moment in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

CLARK IS ON the launching pad, instantly ahead of the pack and running even or ahead of President Bush in new test match-ups. This week he either takes off or begins falling back to earth like the other mortals.
This already has been a vintage political season — meaning wild and unpredictable — and it’s only just begun. A few months ago, Bush looked nearly invincible in his flight suit. Now he looks like a guy whose ankles are weighed down by concrete blocks (jobs and Iraq). The gyrations of politics are everywhere. California is in terminal meltdown; political civil war rages in Texas; and perhaps the most important participants in the 2004 election — the leaders of al-Qaida — are waiting in the wings to do who knows what.

And now we have a Democratic presidential contest that seems to defy all attempts (by journalists and spinners) to give it shape: 10, count them, 10, candidates, all railing against Bush, but struggling to propound a vision of what should come after him; a press corps more suffocating, numerous and wired than ever, yet seemingly blind to the forest in these trees; an electorate bored and jaded, yet somehow (I think) yearning to be inspired.
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