Former basketball star and slouchy senator from New Jersey Bill Bradley this morning threw his support behind Howard Dean, thus joining Al Gore in giving a double-kiss-of-death to the Democratic frontrunner.
In the best political tradition, Bradley, who challenged Gore unsuccessfully for the Dem nomination four years ago, characterized Dean as an extension of himself:
"When Governor Dean says that his campaign is more about his supporters than about him, he shows admirable modesty, but he sheds light also on why his campaign offers the best chance to beat George Bush...That is, he has tapped into the same wonderful idealism that I saw in the eyes of Americans in 2000, and he has nourished it into a powerful force."
Here's a longer account.
The endorsement may help Dean, though it's far from clear whether Bradley carries any juice with anyone outside of his immediate family and a couple of old Knicks teammates, much less voters in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary. It certainly doesn't hurt Dean--that would likely take an endorsement from the likes of Mike Dukakis, Fritz Mondale, and Jimmy Carter.
An interesting question raised by all of this is when Bill Clinton will anoint someone. The conventional wisdom is that he's leaning toward fellow Arkansan Wesley Clark, who's supposedly within the Clinton Democratic machine. But if it's true that Hillary is definitely running in '08, then you've got to figure Bill wants the Dems to lose this time around.