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Told you so

“Just a quick reminder that in December of 2003, while most magazines were running cover stories on Howard Dean, The Atlantic Monthly had John Kerry on its cover.”

—Atlantic Monthly statement after John Kerry scored his major upset in the Iowa caucuses

Freak show

What really propelled John Kerry so rapidly to the top in Iowa after he had lagged so far behind in the polls?

One can’t ignore a cleverly worded television ad launched in the state Jan. 7 by one of the nation’s leading free-market political-advocacy organizations, the Club for Growth PAC, highlighting longtime Iowa caucus leader Howard Dean’s liberal tax record.

The $100,000-plus ad, which was not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee, opened with a couple walking out of a barber shop. An off-screen announcer asked what they thought of Mr. Dean’s plan to raise taxes on a typical family by $1,900.

Without hesitation, the husband responded: “What do I think? Well, I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading …”

His wife continued: “… body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs.”

Club for Growth Executive Director David Keating told Inside the Beltway yesterday: “One of the things that just shocked us is how our ad not only entered the political culture, but also the comedy culture.

“We’re going to poke fun at any politician with an insane tax plan,” Mr. Keating said. “And it fits Dean’s plan — and persona, perhaps. I mean, you saw his rant.”

Veteran Iowa reporter David Yepsen agreed in one nationally televised interview: “The only memorable political ad here is the Club for Growth ad.”

No freak show

TUN Network representatives are on Capitol Hill this week introducing a most unique cable-television venture geared toward young adults.

The vision of the network, which is being launched this month in several states: “To be the premiere cable and Internet destination for university students around the world.”

TUN’s chief executive officer, Alex Lightman, says the overall aim is to “provide an inspiring alternative to MTV for 18- to 24-year-olds, with content from the best and the brightest and an editorial spirit emphasizing self-reliance, self-discipline, success-orientation and entrepreneurial dynamism rather than prepackaged rage against authentic leadership and commodified dissent.”

Founded in Muncie, Ind., with production offices in Santa Monica, Calif., the 24-hour digital cable channel — specifically designed for the collegiate age demographic 18 to 24 — plans to utilize the creative work of university students from around the country in film, technology, fine arts, business, and research and development.

The network cites one report stating: “The college student is the demographic that Madison Avenue cares most about, because this group has not yet formed specific brand allegiances or set buying patterns and is thus more susceptible to advertising. The 18- to 24-year-old is considered the most easily programmable type of person, and therefore this is the most marketable group.”

The demographic, including 17 million U.S. college students in 2002, has an estimated $150 billion in disposable income.

“Instead of trying to guess what young people want, as some channels do, TUN taps into their creative resources and lets them produce what they want to see,” the network states.

Scientific enough

In a most unfashionable poll, Time asked the campaign staffs of top Democratic presidential contenders where they shop for clothes. The answers: Howard Dean (Gap), John Kerry (American Eagle), Wesley Clark (J. Crew), John Edwards (Banana Republic), Joe Lieberman (Urban Outfitters) and Dennis Kucinich (Salvation Army).

Come on, is this poll serious?

Admits the magazine: “Polling … based on one to six interns we pretty much randomly grabbed.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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