Ed Driscoll

IS THE PERSONAL POLITICAL when

IS THE PERSONAL POLITICAL when it comes to presidential campaigns? Charles Paul Freund of Reason argues that increasingly, having a good back story works better for presidential candidates than an issue-driven campaign:

In Iowa, candidates with a good story to tell did much better than candidates without one. In the case of Sen. John Edwards, who came in second in Iowa, an effective personal story turned out to be more valuable than the vaunted “organization” that the mainstream press kept citing as a determining ingredient for Iowa success. Edwards didn’t have much organization at all. What he had was a winning and empathetic presence and a brilliant stump speech, one that combined his populist politics with his own life narrative of (according to him) struggle against wealth and privilege. It worked; Edwards is a contender for a top-spot in New Hampshire, too.

Conversely, candidates who sought to limit their personal exposure paid for it. That would be Vermont’s former Gov. Howard Dean, who came in third in Iowa despite the fact that the gatekeeper press covered him as though he had already won the state. Dean based his early campaign heavily (if not exclusively) on issues, especially his opposition to the Iraq war, and protected