Thursday, January 22, 2004

Slate's David Plotz reports on

    The populated part of New Hampshire is about the size of my living room. With nine candidates careening around it like pool balls, it's nearly impossible to avoid getting struck by one. In November and December, the candidates make themselves alarmingly accessible. When I see Wes Clark speak in late November, I can't avoid getting my hand shaken. I slouch in the corner, yet still he hunts me down. (Now I know how Slobodan Milosevic must have felt.) I am accustomed to seeing politicians in their Washington captivity, cordoned off by aides and hustled into waiting Town Cars. It's thrilling to see them here in the state of nature. New Hampshire really does force candidates to behave almost like regular people.

    For a while, that's a great spectator sport. But what first seems like refreshingly direct, grass-roots politics eventually irritates the hell out of me. We New Hampshirites pride ourselves on our honesty, which means we think it's our obligation to be surly and entitled. After a few events, this no longer seems charming. It's just rude. To the guy at the nursing home outside Manchester: Do you think you could at least stop chewing while Gen. Clark talks to you? Yes, it's lunchtime, but the man is a four-star general and quite possibly the next president of the United States. Does he really need to see your spittle?

Funny stuff. Read the whole thing.

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