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Nick Lemann is the Dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism and a former New Yorker staff writer. While at Harvard – where he  graduated in 1976 –  Lemann[…]

The possibility less important than it seems, Lemann says.

Nicholas Lemann: Less than meets the eye. It’s about . . . I mean in a sense it’s about all these, you know, horrible buzz words like “branding” and “first mover advantage”. It’s . . . In national politics, two things. First of all having a recognizable name makes a huge, huge, huge difference. I mean that’s why in the 19th century so many generals were . . . became president. And then secondly you know more than most people who aren’t practitioners of politics realize organization matters a lot. Parties are important . . . still very important. So if you’re a Bush or a Clinton, you inherit . . . You can . . . you can take over sort of an organization that a new candidate has to build from scratch, and it’s an enormous advantage. It’s just a little bit like, you know, Coke and Pepsi don’t taste that different from every other soft drink, but it’s very hard for other soft drinks to compete with Coke and Pepsi. Why? I think it’s a self-limiting phenomenon. I’d be very surprised if we’re sitting here in, you know, 30 years and there are still Bushes and Clintons running for president. But it is an odd thing that you’d have, you know, Bush-Clinton, Bush-Clinton.


Recorded on: 11/30/07