The Doom Crier
I f the Marquis de Sade had written the climactic scenes in the story of Bill Clinton's march to the nomination, he would have been hard put to invent a torment more exquisite than Jerry Brown. For months, Brown had been the antimatter candidate in the race, largely invisible to what the analysts of our politics suppose to be the real world. His occasional victories had been minimally noted in the press, like the scores of Division III college football games, and Clinton's handlers had never really bothered with him in their strategic planning. But Brown had outlasted everybody else in the field, and when Clinton arrived belatedly in Connecticut, Brown was already there, choosing among his implements of pain.
The usual rules of war in late presidential primaries hold that you don't unduly bloody the probable nominee of your own party -- not if you want a future in politics. But it was in the very nature of Brown's candidacy to break the rules, since he was running against the club that had written them, and Clinton, in his view, was its embodiment. They were opposite men, so unlike that, by the end, their differences of mind and spirit appeared to have taken physical form. Clinton, a junk-food junkie, had picked up a layer of McFlab in his travels and was in danger of swelling up into a Thomas Nast cartoon. Brown more nearly resembled a prophet rendered by El Greco; a regime of jogging and fasting had burned away forty pounds and left him sunken of belly and hollow of eye.
The contrast suited his mocking definition of the race; it had come down finally to the 800-pound gorilla against the 800-number guerrilla, he said, and so far as he was concerned, the hour of the guerrilla was at hand. He had never had a real chance to win the nomination, and the possibility that he might stop Clinton had shrunk to the vanishing point the day Tsongas packed it in; it would have taken the two of them, campaigning actively, to deadlock the process and open the convention to somebody less tarnished than the favorite. The media were in the process of declaring the race over and were treating