Inside Politics Weekend

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Outbursts and all, Sen. James Webb of Virginia is rumored to be on the short list as Sen. Barack Obama’s potential running mate.

“Is Jim Webb a vessel for the kind of righteous indignation the Democrats need - or is he just too angry to be vice president?” asksEve Fairbanks of the New Republic.

“In the end, if Obama picks Webb to be his running mate, it will probably be more on the basis of their affinity than on Webb’s power to win white votes - or Webb’s capacity to balance Obama’s laid-back vibe with some pugnaciousness. It will be a unity-loving, proud-to-be-black man acknowledging just how much he has in common with an anger-loving, proud-to-be-white one.”

Days of yore

July 15, 1992: Today marks the 16th anniversary of Dan Quayle’s infamous “potatoe” mash-up moment. Then vice president, Mr. Quayle misspelled “potato” during a spelling bee at a New Jersey elementary school and never quite lived it down.

“It was a defining moment of the worst kind imaginable,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Politicians live and die by the symbolic sound bite. … The media’s obsession with my small verbal blunders went beyond the bounds of fairness.”

Life got a little complicated for William Figueroa, the sixth-grader who spelled the word correctly, then went on to appear on late-night TV and lead the pledge of allegiance at the Democratic National Convention later that year.

By 1997, Mr. Figueroa was “a 17-year-old high school dropout who had fathered a child and was working a low-paying job at an auto showroom,” according to an update from the Trentonian.

One more thing. Mr. Quayle may have had spelling issues - but Sen. Barack Obama has number challenges. Lest we forget, the presidential hopeful solemnly informed a recent audience that he had paid a visit to all “57 states.”

By the numbers

756,281: Number of mentions Sen. Barack Obama received in the mainstream press since Feb. 5

476,885: Number of mentions Sen. John McCain received.

268,916: Number of mentions Mr. Obama received on blogs and other “social media” since Feb. 5.

160,410: Number of mentions Mr. McCain received.

The data is from Dow Jones Insight, an election blog that examined press activity between Feb. 5 and June 6. The analysis aptly illustrates the frantic news media landscape:

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