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I Know You Are But What Am I?

As Noam and Mike pointed out in this week’s print magazine, the Clinton campaign relies heavily on what game theorists like to call “retaliatory escalation”—a.k.a. “club[bing] would-be attackers over the head with their own words.”

Case in point: Yesterday, John Edwards slammed Clinton for coaching audience members at a Q&A, calling the tactic “what George Bush does.” The Clinton team responded, “What George Bush does is attack Democrats and divide the country … Sen. Edwards' campaign resembles that more and more every day.”
And it worked! The exchange didn’t get much play in the papers, but CNN ran the headline, “Clinton camp accuses Edwards of acting like Bush.” Coaching the audience? Below the fold.
If the race comes down to Clinton and Giuliani, this is a recipe for an ugly general election sure to be filled with pleasantries like this. “Let’s just be clear. It’s actually Mayor Giuliani whose immigration policy resembles treason against Western civilization.”

Update: CNN is now following up on the coaching incident.