February 16, 2004

Pieces of the Dean puzzle

Over at ambivalent imbroglio, the puzzle of Howard Dean's campaign trajectory gets clearer with the emergence of more little pieces. . .

The best part of the analysis is this summation:

The point is not to pin AJHPV's nastiness on Kerry or Gephardt or any other campaign, but to point out that:

1) Now that Kerry has taken over the "frontrunner" position, he isn't getting any of this kind of nasty treatment from fellow Democrats, and

2) Dean didn't lose "frontrunner" status because his campaign "imploded" or "self-destructed," he lost that status at least partly because his opponents assassinated his character and terrified voters.

As we wait for the definitive history of this campaign to be written, let's steel ourselves for the job we must do: Re-defeat Bush.

Posted by Carey at February 16, 2004 04:24 PM

When Dean was "frontrunner" the person who attacked him the hardest was Gephardt. In defending himself (counterattacking), Dean did much to end Gephardt's campaign. I doubt the two of them will be golfing together any time in the near future.

While Gephardt damaged Dean in Iowa, I'm fairly certain Dean himself killed any chance he may have had at bouncing back from his Iowa defeat with his, um, enthusiastic response.

Meanwhile, Kerry flowed along, keeping just under the proverbial radar, ready to step up when the infighting weakened both Gephardt and Dean to the point where they were no longer seen as viable candidates. Is Kerry the "best" candidate? Debateable, yet he's certainly proven to be the best politician of the group thusfar.

In the end, it was Dean's lack of political savvy that did him in, as well as his inability to address many of the charges and rumors levied against him by the main-stream media who consistently attacked him harder than any of his political rivals. And now that he's a non-factor in the campaign, his "supporters" have been largely exposed as bandwagon jumpers and little else.

Posted by: at February 16, 2004 06:16 PM

Um, how do you figure that? Yes, Dean's lack of political savvy did him in; but I'd argue that same lack was what took him as far as he went. People are tired of politicians who are good at what passes for "politics" these days. Sure, Kerry's a pro. That's why he's so utterly uninspiring.

But I don't see how Dean's supporters have shown themselves to be bandwagon jumpers. Dean's pulled a solid 15% of the vote in most every state; I'd say his supporters remained pretty dedicated in the face of a steady drumbeat of "Dean's dead" media coverage and whatnot.

Posted by: ambimb at February 19, 2004 04:15 PM

Yep. Just uninspiring enough to have convinced roughly half the democratic party, give or take, that he's our best bet to defeat Bush.

Let's face it-Presidential Politics are all about being uninspiring. Truly inspiring people engender fierce loyalty in a few people and little support from the unwashed masses. Case in point: Ralph Nader. If Howard Dean wanted to be inspiring, he's done a great job. If he wanted to be President, perhaps he should have concentrated on being a touch less inspiring until he had the general election in the proverbial bag.

As for Dean's supporters, nationwide he polled at 31% in mid-December (CNN/Gallup). 31% does not equal 15%. Where did that other 16% go? They headed over there. You know. Behind the tool shed. Where the bandwagon's parked.

I admire those who stuck by Dean throughout his fits and fuckups, and he's certainly gathered a certain loyal following. Yet the fact remains that when push came to shove, vast numbers of primary/caucus voters who may have voiced support before the day of reckoning ended up pulling the handle for Someone Else, and when he started losing, many more supporters jumped off the floundering Dean bandwagon in favor of Someone Else.

Personally, I couldn't care less who represents the Democrats this year as long as whoever it is ultimately defeats Bush. I view Bush as certainly the worst president I've ever seen and potentially the worst president this country's ever seen. There will be plenty of time to be inspiring and charismatic once Bush is gone.

Posted by: Brian at February 20, 2004 04:15 PM