A common journalistic line in this campaign is that John Kerry lacks charisma. Backbone, maybe; charisma, I’m not sure because I’m not sure what charisma is. And I doubt many journalists can give us a clear definition or benchmarks we can touch that put push candidates off the charisma scale.

But that doesn’t stop them from writing about it ad nauseum. Let’s face it: It’s easier than trying to understand, interpret and report on policy matters.

But this morning, the “Campaign Desk” from the Columbia J-School has an interesting retrospective about what the press is saying now about Kerry and possible running mate Sen. John Edwards and what the press was saying four years ago when Kerry was being considered for the No. 2 slot by Al Gore. Seems like in the four years since, Kerry has gotten uglier, less charismatic, more wonkish and more “aloof, condescending and soporific.”

In a word, these stories aren’t worth the price of newsprint, but reporters will keep on reporting them.