Tuesday, January 20, 2004

DEAN DEATH REPORT EARLY, BUT MAY BE SOONER THAN NOVEMBER

It must be frustrating to be running for political office, especially if you're Howard Dean.

First, the media absolutely falls in love with you. You're on the cover of every newspaper and every news magazine. You've developed a "grass roots" campaign, a "21st-century" campaign, complete with multiple websites and blogs. It's "Howard Dean 24/7" and you're on fire! And the train keeps rolling . . .

Sure, the Republicans take their shots at you, but that's because you've decided to paint yourself as the "anti-war, anti-Bush". You're not particularly for anything; you're just everything that Bush isn't -- that's your message.

But then you start to focus your "anti" rhetoric on your real opponents -- not that guy in the Oval Office, but the "Washington insiders" you're running against. That's your first mistake. It's one thing to trash the opposition, but Dean probably wen't too far out of his way to trash the guys he has to beat before he gets to the convention. That made them focus on him, and his weaknesses. And it worked.

I think the mistake Dean made in Iowa was underestimating Iowans. They may be pissed off at Bush, but I don't think they think an angry, feisty outsider has a chance in Washington, especially with a Republican Congress. It smells too much like four years of Dean ranting about Congress not passing his legislation -- so nothing gets done and the Republicans bulldoze him in 2008. Whereas, they saw Kerry and Edwards as two guys who've gotten stuff done (I guess they have, though I couldn't tell you what -- nor do I care) while being in the minority. At least they don't think they'll embarrass the party, while Dean could do so easily.

Having said that, Dean still has some momentum, but whether he gets bummed out and bites everyone's heads off -- I can just hearing him yelling at his staff about how he should never have tried to "soften" his image -- or whether he tries to start delivering a message that isn't just anti-Bush will depend on whether he is still the real deal or the new Gary Hart.


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