"forces rivals to reassess him"

Can we stop and think about this lead NYTimes story for a minute?

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor making his first bid for national office, raised substantially more money this quarter than all his more established opponents in the Democratic presidential contest, according to figures released today.

The result forced Dr. Dean's rivals to reconsider how to deal with an opponent they had until now viewed as little more than an irritant.

At the same time, Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, who had initially been seen as a formidable fund-raiser with strong ties to labor, has apparently come in fifth among Democrats in fund-raising in the second quarter, which ended Monday. It would be the second weak showing in fund-raising by Mr. Gephardt. His aides cautioned today that they were still counting checks.

Dean is now a real candidate because he has money, and the corollary of that is that he will cease to be a real candidate if he should eventually fall behind others in the accumulation of more money.

Is the headline, "Dean's Surge in Fund-Raising Forces Rivals to Reassess Him," and the story itself for that matter, even conceivable in any other mature republic? Elsewhere citizens, even professional politicians, don't appear and disappear as legitimate candidates for office only on the basis of whether or not they are cash cows.

Our government is available to the highest bidder, and nothing else is ever really discussed, except the candidates' numbers in the polls.

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Published on July 3, 2003 12:35 PM.

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