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November 11, 2003

ELECTING DEAN....John Judis (channeled via Josh Marshall) and Atrios are having a disagreement about Howard Dean's electability. Here's Judis:

The only thing I'm semi-certain about is Dean's lack of electability in November....The similarities grow with every day. Not just the insurgent voter enthusiasm, the new ways of fundraising, and the bevy of flummoxed opponents, but also the economy (artificially stimulated by Nixon through the Fed and by Bush through the dollar just in time for election year) and the war (raging, but bound to quiet some by election time, and to raise prospects of peace)....I fear a cataclysm in the fall if the Democrats nominate Dean.

Atrios responds:

Other than the fundraising, which, you know, is a good thing, all the candidates will face the war and economy issues. Judis has made an argument why no Dem can win. If a million roses bloom in Baghdad and the economy is booming, there's a reasonable chance he's right - but I have no idea why this is an issue specific to Dean. Or any other candidate.

I'm really getting sick of the Old Left and the Old Right trying to have a Vietnam-era rematch. The Old Right want to prove we should've won in Vietnam, and the Old Left want to redo the '72 election. Stop letting your personal demons dictate how you play electoral and geopolitical chess. Sheesh.

As several people have pointed out, Dean is polling as well or better than other Democratic candidates in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against Bush, so why does the "Dean is unelectable" meme have so much currency? Is it just the Democratic establishment refusing to accept an outsider?

Maybe. But looking at the matchup numbers right now is meaningless. Anyone can look good when there's no competition, but starting around April (at a guess) George Bush and Karl Rove are going to start unloading their $200 million warchest against whoever the Democratic nominee is. I don't especially buy into the theory that Rove is an unbeatable political supergenius — a few hundred votes in Florida and he'd be lying in a gutter somewhere in Austin — but he is good at what he does and $200 million goes a long way toward turning good into brilliant.

So while I realize that obsessing about Dean's electability can become a self-fulfilling prophecy — and it's also the fastest way I know to start a comment war — I have to say it: I think Dean is unelectable. Without going into tedious detail, just try to imagine that it's April and the $200 million attack machine has geared up. And think about what the ads are going to look like, especially to moderates who aren't true believers in the Dean phenomenon already. (Go ahead: use your imagination. And try to be brutally realistic.) To me, they look devastating. I know it's not fair, but this election isn't going to have anything to do with fairness.

And if you want one single thing to chew on, it's this: national security is going to be the main theme of the election. I don't care if we like it or not, the Republicans are the ones with the money and the bully pulpit and they're going to hammer on it. And while I know that a lot of liberals think that anti-war sentiment is going to wash over the country in a great wave, it's just not realistic to think that's going to happen. Really, it's not.

I happen to think Wes Clark is a better potential president than Howard Dean anyway, but electability is a key factor too. It's vitally important to get rid of George Bush and his insanely incompetent crew of ideologues before they do any more damage, and I don't think Dean can do it. Clark can.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 11, 2003 10:52 AM | TrackBack


Comments

I think it's a concern that anyone as popular as Dean is with the party faithful will not fly with moderate voters. Not that this is necessarily wrong, but's a mistake to think of politics as a zero-sum game. The right politician can excite his base and reach out to those in the middle, and Dean may be that guy.

Posted by: Tyrone Slothrop at November 11, 2003 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that Clark is stronger than Dean on the critical issue of national defense. Clark can flatten Bush on that issue because of Clark's military background.

Posted by: grytpype at November 11, 2003 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Grytpype: I don't think it's quite that easy, but I agree that Bush will have a much easier time attacking Dean on national security than Clark.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 11, 2003 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

>I agree that Clark is stronger than Dean on the critical issue of
>national defense. Clark can flatten Bush on that issue because
>of Clark's military background.

Like the way Max Cleland flattened Saxby Chambliss?

Posted by: Dan the Man at November 11, 2003 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

disclaimer - Kerry supporter.

You will see more and more of this as the primaries draw closer. And by "this" I mean, the Democratic Party waking up and going "Holy sh*t, do we really want to nominate Howard Dean!? What were we thinking?"

This election will be the most important in my lifetime. Failure is not an option. I think an insurgent campaign like Dean's scares the hell out of the swing voters needed to win the general. The establishment is already aware of this. It remains to be seen what the voters do.

Posted by: cazart at November 11, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Dan -- If they flattened a triple-amputee vet, what will they do to the "Skiing After Deferment" governor of Vermont? I'm afraid Kevin is right on this. Americans don't admit it, but in the voting booth, too many will be thinking we were right to shoot first and argue later.

Posted by: Nick at November 11, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Bored today, Kevin? Afraid you weren't getting enough comments?

Well, this should certainly end that problem...

(I love Dean, I love Clark. I think they're both electable. Of course, if we keep repeating the "Dean is unelectable" schtick, it'll end up a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 11, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine it's April. The Bush attack machine would be revving up against ANY Dem candidate. And who will have the money to portray himself, not let Rove do the job, because he has rejected public funding and has raised millions in small donations, much if it from people who have not contributed in years, if ever? And then there are the ads from MoveOn, and from the new foundation to which Soros and other wealthy folks have contriobuted because they feel that this is a life-and-death election, and they are comfoprtable with Dean. And ads? You mean the one of Bush stepping onto the aircraft carrier while the numbers of dead in Iraq scroll by, month by month? Yes, there may be Republican ads showing Dean saying he is tried of listening to fundamentalist preachers, but my guess is a lot of swing voters and libertarians are tired of it too. I think that Atrios is largely right--a lot of the so-called liberal pundits are projecting things onto Dean and this race. Dean has a much broader appeal than you and Judis and Ruy Texeira give him credit for, nor is he the flaming liberal that you folks are portraying him.
The important thing about this race is who can draw in the ammunition to make a stand on our own terms, not Bush's. Dean can do it.

Posted by: Mimikatz at November 11, 2003 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Funny. I'm not sure how I missed the fact that you said the exact same thing in the third-from-last comment.

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 11, 2003 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Consider that Dean, while perhaps not on the $200m scale, will amass more than any other Dem candidate. Then that he is willing to play controversy to set the agenda (look how the Confederate flag issue works for him). He can win because he can do this and have the nous and the finance to back it up. Anyway, early days.

Posted by: Chris at November 11, 2003 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

"just try to imagine that it's April and the $200 million attack machine has geared up. And think about what the ads are going to look like, especially to moderates who aren't true believers in the Dean phenomenon already."

Substitute the name of Clark--or any other plausible Democratic nominee--for Dean--do things look any better?

Democrats face serious but not insurrmountable prblems in this campaign. Everybody else is in the same boat as Dean.

Posted by: rea at November 11, 2003 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I think getting caught up in electability is premature. The brutal nature of the primary process should battle harden any of the Democratic candidates and how they respond under the pressure is one of the keys to seeing how they'll do in the general election. Dean is currently facing an onslaught of criticism that comes from being the front-runner. I think so far he's handled it well, albeit not perfectly. And I think it will just make him that much stronger a candidate come November.

Posted by: Trust No One at November 11, 2003 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Dan -- If they flattened a triple-amputee vet, what will they do to the "Skiing After Deferment" governor of Vermont? I'm afraid Kevin is right on this. Americans don't admit it, but in the voting booth, too many will be thinking we were right to shoot first and argue later.

So, Clark is more electable than Dean because of his military background, but some random Republican is more electable than a Vietnam vet who doesn't have much in the way of a body left, which means that Dean is unelectable because he ditched Vietnam, but Clark is electable because he's got a military background.

That's kinda silly. Don't get me wrong, I think the American electorate is as stupid as they come, and that Clark is more electable simply because he's a general, but writing off Dean because he didn't have to go to Vietnam is like writing off Clinton because he didn't go to Vietnam. Dean brings a lot to the table including a lot of moderate viewpoints that will appeal to swing voters...and he has the speaking skills to highlight them, unlike Al Gore.

Maybe we should just stop judging our politicians on the basis of their serving record in some war that we all agree was a big clusterfuck.

Posted by: Quain at November 11, 2003 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

>Dan -- If they flattened a triple-amputee vet,
>what will they do to
>the "Skiing After Deferment" governor of Vermont?

Or the former commander of NATO whom his colleagues hate.

>I'm afraid Kevin is right on this. Americans don't admit it, but
>in the voting booth, too
>many will be thinking we were right to shoot first and argue later.

Who cares? Most people seem to believe that and yet look at
Bush's poll ratings. Most people seem to be a lot more concerned
about the money we're spending on Iraq and the number of our
soldiers dying in Iraq than on whether or not it was right
to go in there in the first place.

Posted by: Dan the Man at November 11, 2003 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Well I guess we damn well will lose the election if we let them frame the debate. As soon as Bush starts the security meme, all Dean has to do is run an ad with a series of before and afters with Bush et all saying Iraq was an imminent threat and then Bush et all backing down from just about everything they said before. Throw in the Mission Accomplished. Put a close up of Bush asking if the security of our nation can be trusted in his hands and then a close up of Dean saying Hell No (more eloquently). If you run a blitz of that ad, Bush will look like an idiot pretending he ever did a thing worthwhile for our security.

Dean, as a doctor, a 5-term governor and an all-around intelligent man, should be promoting his policies, not letting Bush frame a thing.

That's why Dean will win. He is always one step ahead of everyone else.

All you lefties know how to do is counterattack. You're so busy imagining how Bush will crush Dean that it doesn't occur to you that it could work the other way around.

Posted by: chris at November 11, 2003 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, Kevin. Talk about tossing an apple to the crowd. Incoming!
If the economy is good, beating Bush is going to be a nasty uphill battle. I sure wouldn't bet the rent money on the next Dem candidate, whoever it is.
That doesn't mean it won't happen. But, just in my opinion, Dean is the best candidate to do it, because he seems real and has his political feet under him. Clark doesn't really have much political experience, and he just doesn't seem like the Ordinary Guy that Dean does. And he doesn't seem to be in command of his campaign. I dunno why, to be honest, but the candidate that reminds me most of Clinton is Dean. I'd go with him. Hey, just my opinion.

Posted by: rhinoman at November 11, 2003 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

I've never posted here before, but I have to say I have very serious concerns about Dean's electability.

Believe me, I will vote for ABB (Anybody But Bush), but just because I will doesn't mean that swing voters will do the same. I think Clark or Kerry have the best shot at taking on Bush since they are strong in Bush's weakest areas.

While I personally like Dean's stated positions, I'm not sure he's "Presidential" enough (vague, I know) and I don't think a majority of the electorate (even discontented with the war) will support him.

Posted by: TTop at November 11, 2003 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

This post nails my greatest fear: that Dean will get the Democratic nomination and Bush will win the election, maybe not by much, but he will win. Kerry has the best mind and experience for the job but he is simply not presidential. Clark is eminently presidential and has the skills for the job but he needs a better campaign team than Clinton's (it's hard to lose an election when your candidate is the smartest, sharpest politician in decades); nevertheless, I have given money and will give my vote to the general. But Rove will nail him to wall for Kosovo. Dean is enjoying such great popularity because he is appealing to our anger and frustration. This makes him a demagogue and a remarkably skillful one - I'd love to see what he could do in a Senate seat. But the leather chair in the Oval Office requires much more and greater range of belief and approch to lead the nation.

Posted by: Brea Plum-Gomez at November 11, 2003 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Well, since cazart put up the disclaimer that he's a Kerry supporter, I imagine i should put up the really big disclaimer that I'm a registered Republican (or "Repugnican" in these parts) but the issue of Dean's electability is really quite simple:

Dean the candidate for President has thus far been more liberal than Dean the Governor of Vermont, which makes sense because you need to inspire the party faithful and loyalists to win a primary. If he is able to get his record out as Governor once he sews up the nomination--and he will get the nomination--he'll be fine and the race will come down the things out of his hands, ie Iraq and the economy.

If he doesn't get that record out, or if the Bush campaign if able to define him before he defines himself, he's in deep doo doo.

Posted by: greg at November 11, 2003 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Here are some numbers from the Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM) relevant to Dean's chances of

1) winning the Democratic nomination, and

2) winning the general election against Bush

Regarding point 1, shares of "Dean" which pay out $1 if Dean wins the Dem nomination are selling for $0.557. The price also represents the market estimate of the probability of victory. The next closest rival is Clark, currently selling for $0.127.

See

http://128.255.244.60/quotes/67.html

Regarding point 2, the IEM has data on a Bush vs Dean match up in its Vote Share Market. While a share of BU|Dean is selling for 0.295, a share of Dean is selling for 0.335, indicating a Dean victory.

http://128.255.244.60/quotes/66.html

These markets have a very reliable track record. Brad DeLong has a post along these lines noting the accuracy of IEM in predicting the outcome of the CA recall. See

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/002428.html

Posted by: KJD at November 11, 2003 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin

You seem to think that the national security question is one of anti-war vs. war. It is not. it is one of effective measures vs. non-effective measures. This is not 1972 and Dean is not McGovern. He is not some wild eyed peacenik, and unless the DLC actively torpedoes his campaign, there is no reason that national security will be a harder issue for him than for any other candidate - even Clark. Every Dem cadidate is going to face exactly the same campaign ads. If you dont think Dean can win, then why should Clark - who has essentially the same position - do better?

As for the angry thing, thats a bit of a problem, but from everything I have read, Dean on the stump marries angry with hopefulness. If he can do that on the national stage, thats a powerful combination. And I am not even a Dean supporter - I actually lean Clark. The point is that any Dem cadidate is going to have to be able to counter the Republican attack ads - and the ones for all the other Candidates, even Clark, are just as bad. The question is not who is going to be attacked as weak on national security - they all will be. the question is who can handle it better, And thats something we wont know until the primary season gets really rolling.

Posted by: kevin at November 11, 2003 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

I wrote a note to Josh Marshall on this subject this morning- Why in the world aren't we pushing with all our might for a Clark/Dean or Dean/Clark ticket, instead of gnashing our teeth over the electability issue? That is the powerhouse combo that will get the job done- goodbye, ShrubCo.

Clark brings foreign policy credibility and mainstream appeal to the ticket, Dean supplies the most energized and effective grassroots infrastructure we've ever seen in this country. There ought to be a mess of blogs and websites and bumper stickers and signs advocating that our two strongest Democratic candidates team up and evict ShrubCo from the White House.

George Soros just gave $5 million to MoveOn.Org, and is making the defeat of Bush his central mission at the moment. If I had his dough I'd tell the Democrats that if they want to tap into my $7 billion fortune, they had better run Dean and Clark in the fall.

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

This can obviously be argued ad infinitem, and will play out through the rest of the primary season.

I find it difficult to get excited about Clark, who is a brilliant, extraordinarily ambitious, professional killer, with all of his career experience in the military. Late to the campaign, unskilled in politics, someone whose candidacy would deflate the enormous energy of the Dean amateurs, and the new paradigm they are bringing to American politics.

If Clark, the Clintons, and the DNC "stop" Dean, the lights are out and the cockroaches scurry back into the kitchen.

Posted by: Aeolus at November 11, 2003 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Dean may indeed be unelectable, but I'll be darned if I can figure out the issue that will take him down. Iraq? Not unless Bush executes both Saddam and bin Laden on live TV (and if you think that will calm the calls for jihad...) Civil unions? Even Wal-Mart has protection for sexual orientation (and I like Dean's formulation of equal rights that the gay victims of 9/11 were no less heroes than the straight.)

Tax cuts? Well, there is the conundrum that led to the Confederate flag flap. Bush borrowed billions from the next generation to give big ol' birthday present to the wealthy, then added $300 to buy off the not-so-wealthy. Why do the working poor vote for this stuff, when their local fees, state taxes, medical insurance copayments and college tuition combined are almost guaranteed to have gone up more than $300? Even in a rising economy, this is the issue to spend Soros' money on advertising, and in a jobless recovery, well...

I want to believe in Clark, but so far there's no there there other than the resume. Dean/Clark seems an unstoppable ticket to me, but the Democratic establishment has got to figure out how to share/let go of power before they have none left to hoard.

I'm young to remember McGovern (other than the Eagleton/Shriver fiasco) but I do recall that the other fiscally sane candidates I've preferred over the years (Anderson, Tsongas) had none of the charisma and passion that Dean brings. Didn't Carter think that Reagan was an easy mark? There's something to be said for energizing the base -- which none of the other Dems are doing.

Posted by: Kevin from the North Shore at November 11, 2003 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you, if you think Dean is a big threat, the best way to stop him is to rally around one of the other candidates ASAP and talk people into supporting him. We've heard the McGovern/unelectable arguments many times now. An argument for Clark over Gephardt, Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman will do more to stop Dean than anything else.

Posted by: Katherine at November 11, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

To be perfectly honest with you Kevin, I'm not so sure Clark is "electable"...and I mean that in the same sense that Bill Bradley (the intellectual's pick who broke my heart last time) wasn't "electable". If you can't campaign, you aren't electable. And Clark is, sadly, not looking good at all on that front.

The electorate showed in 2000 that qualifications make little difference to the decision. Credibility certainly does, as you say. Clark will have it on national security, but does he have it in connecting to people? He strikes me as elegant and intellectual--my kind of guy. But if he stood up with Bush in a debate and appeared to think himself above the Pres, he'd be sunk (anyone would). People feel protective of the regular guy--it's going to be a tough issue for any of the dems, honestly.

Is Dean electable? Well, I sure hope so because I just don't think Clark is going anywhere...

Posted by: Charisse at November 11, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

In the most recent Iowa Poll, Dean has the highest negatives of any of the candidates, despite his otherwise strong showing. This may be an indication that he may not do well with more moderate independents who make up the swing vote in many key states. I also agree with Kevin D. that when it comes down to it, most voters will not want to believe that the war against Iraq was a bad decision, even though it most certainly was a terrible decision by Bush. Dean showed a great deal of political courage by coming out against the war, but the sad fact is that most folks simply want to believe the war was just and necessary, and what can Dean do about that?

Someone like Clark or even Gephardt can drive home the point that Bush's incompetence on both foreign and domestic matters show we need new leadership in the White House. But competence was never Bush's strong suit and he's not very vulnerable on that score. IMO, the biggest vulnerablilty Bush has is his softening integrity, with the failure to find Iraq's alledged WMDs and the recent news that Iraqi representatives signaled that they wanted to cut a deal that would have avoided a war.

Could Dean or another Democratic candidate capitalize on this as well as other Bush's weaknesses? Sure. But if the situation in Iraq does turn around, even a little, it seems that the voters will forgive Bush as the Repulican Wurlitzer plays up 9/11 come next September. Of course, as the bills for Iraq continue to mount and the Bush tax cuts also take their fiscal toll, eventually the day of reckoning will come. But it might not come until 2006. Until then, better hope that the Democrats at least keep 41 seats in the U.S. Senate.

Posted by: David W. at November 11, 2003 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Before using the word "meme," ask yourself if the sense you intend differs in any way from that conveyed by "idea." If it doesn't, as I strongly suspect it will not, then use the perfectly good word "idea."

There's nothing cool about using "meme." It doesn't make you sound smart or hip or even tech-savvy. Please.

Posted by: Chun the Unavoidable at November 11, 2003 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think Judis has a point, he just has a hang-up. But for KD's post, I need more than my imagination. Without the tedious detail, it's just another "uh[oh maybe David Brooks is right" buying into the Republican propoganda machine.

Look, the R.'s lost the last election and still got the presidency, with a transparently unelectable buffoon made wealthy by his father's friends, made electable by his father's friends, and who had a military record so awful that his friends offered up illegible, torn shreds of documents to try and prove he hadn't deserted his National Guard post, which he not coincidentally was able to get with the help of his father's friends. By any measure other than money, Bush was an unelectable nincompoop propped up by his power hungry party.

I rehearse this tired history because, if you look at it with new eyes, you'll realize that the electability issue is horseshit. They're all electable in the right moment, with the right campaign, the right money, and so on. Whether that's true of Dean or not is a different question, but it has no obvious relation to the electability problem as Judis puts.

Anyway, I do worry about the electability theme being a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Republicans managed to convince people that Gore hated military votes while they suppressed them, and convinced people that Gore was liar about travelling with someone from FEMA but Bush was upfront about his economic plans. Imagine what they'll do with the ammunition provided by a tool like Judis.

Posted by: david at November 11, 2003 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes, too much to edit, sorry.

Posted by: david at November 11, 2003 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

This is a bit of a ramble...
What's interesting to me is how Dean has become so polarizing. Does anyone remember people being so passionately for/against Gore/Bradley last time? Or on the republican side (which is a better comparison because they started out with a number of candidates), were there big Bush/McCain flame wars? Polarizing is only really bad if you polarize too many people against you (Bush is pretty polarizing too, but there he is) so it's not necessarily the worst thing in the world. And anyway, as long as all the democrats being polarized still vote for the nominee all is not lost, but I'm still somewhat flabbergasted at the vitriol aimed at Dean by some of the supporters of other candidates and the vitriol of some Dean supporters as well. Then again, when was the last time you saw so many people think a candidate walks on water?

Re: electability, I think some people sincerely mean it as a criticism (i.e. if Dean were polling 10 points ahead of Bush they would be happy to support him), but others are using as a shield for why they just don't like Dean personally or why their candidate (who's not doing as well) is a better choice. If you've got a lot invested in your favorite non-Dean candidate, it's hard to see anything negative about him (or her), and the Deaniacs come off as smug to those who haven't drunk the kool-aid, but electability and being rubbed the wrong way by Dean or liking another candidate better are separate issues. While it's possible to like another candidate better and also think Dean is unelectable, there are times when only the unelectable issue is raised, but it's clear the author has another agenda. I don't like that--it just makes the author look petty and vindictive, whereas explaining one's visceral dislike for Dr. Dean or preference for another candidate is at least honest.

Posted by: JMS at November 11, 2003 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

There's nothing cool about using "meme." It doesn't make you sound smart or hip or even tech-savvy. Please.

To the contrary, I think 'meme' best conveys the point Kevin D. is making about how "Dean is unelectable" because it's not just an idea, it's also become a slogan that's being employed by the various anti-Dean forces.

(BTW, Al Sharpton's negatives are higher than Dean's but Sharpton is not a serious candidate.)

Posted by: David W. at November 11, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Yada Yada Yada. I've just been inspired to go give Dean another 50 bucks.

Posted by: Sven at November 11, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'd have to agree with you on this sentiment:

...a lot of liberals think that anti-war sentiment is going to wash over the country in a great wave, it's just not realistic to think that's going to happen...

Indeed I'd argue that the poor and middleclass in America got an emotional uptick from the war. It made them feel like winners for a short while. Let's go kick some Iraqi ass....

In fact, this made-for-tv-war was as septic as watching a match put on by the world wrestling federation and having your wrestler do a body-slam and a pin.

Didn't you too feel a gush of awe and the glee of shock?

Violence as a solution to problems is 'merica's panacea. That's one of the reasons we lead the world in our incarceration rate.

The prevalence of violence is one of the reasons why Kucinich's always calls for a Department of Peace. And it is also why...when he does so....the audience meets it with mute guffaws.


Posted by: -pea- at November 11, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the "Dean is unelectable" commentary stems from the fact that he is anti-war.

The problem is that Dean is not exactly the "anti-war candidate." He was against the invasion of Iraq. But Dean is no dove. He supports finishing the job. This is a key difference with McGovern and the Vietnam era.

Moreover, all this negative commentary completely ignores the 800 pound gorilla from the last election - the Nader voters. We lost the election because our "electable" "establishment" candidate couldn't hold these guys in place. The conventional wisdom is that these people will join the ABB in the next election. I think this is taking too much for granted. I think Dean has shown to be the only guy who can keep them on our side.

I'm so sick of the Democratic Establishment tell us what's good or not for our party. They've been getting rolled in every election and on every issue since 2000. I'm willing to risk a little on the guy willing to try something different.

Posted by: G Spot1 at November 11, 2003 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, every one of the serious candidates is electable, if the economy stays stagnant and the war in Iraq stays bad. If the economy somehow turns completely around, then we'll have major troubles defeating BushCo no matter which Dem gets the nomination.

Posted by: Rumblelizard at November 11, 2003 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Dean supporter here. And I hope hope hope that the Repubs try and hammer the "national security" thing. Unless things massively improve in Iraq over the next year (and does anyone seriously think they will), trying to win the election by touting an unpopular failed war is a losing strategy.

Clark is Bush Lite on national security. If you're voting because you want a military guy, then you're going to vote for Bush, anyway. 2002 all over again. It's remarkable how many otherwise sensible people learned nothing from that debacle.

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

It occured to me that Dean reminds me the most of Bill Clinton, while Clark reminds me the most of Al Gore. Which is very curious, considering that the comments here have the same ring to them that Gore supporters had in the 2000 election. Sure, Gore was far, far better on paper. But he isn't president today.
We can argue why he lost, but it's like arguing that Bill Buckner's muffed ground ball lost the World Series for the Red Sox. They should never have been in a position that a small glitch makes the difference. If Gore couldn't win with all the advantages he had in 2000, can a similar to Gore candidate (that is, good on paper) win in this election?

Posted by: rhinoman at November 11, 2003 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that the $200 million advantage will turn out to be much less than originally expected (see today's WaPo).

Dean has shown he is perfectly capable of getting money. Maybe not as much as Bush will have but more than enough to countyer any attack ads. And now we have Soros pledging to support the campaign against Bush. I predict money will not be the problem.

I also don't understand why you so summarily dismiss the fact that Dean polls as well as anybody else against Bush. It's not clear anyone else has an advantage there.

Like all races where there is an incumbent it will be a referendum on the incumbent. If the economy soars and Iraq is peaceful nobody will be able to beat Bush. But is the economy is not doing so well and Iraq is perceived as a quagmire I don't see why Dean can't win.

Posted by: GT at November 11, 2003 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Why on earth anyone thinks that Howard Dean will be unable to stomp a man who LIED this nation into a war/disaster is beyond me.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at November 11, 2003 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Does it really matter who wins the nomination? The eventual nominee's chances of defeating Bush seem to me to turn more on the economy and the situation in Iraq than anything unique to any of the Democratic candidates. This is going to be a very close election, regardless of who the Dems put up there, and I don't think any of them would necessarily do better or worse than any other.

If one must start talking about electability, then it should be done in the context of who might have the best chance to turn some of the barely red states (e.g., Florida) while holding onto to all of the barely blue states. Dean's ability to excite people nationwide (if appealing to a very small segment of the population can be considered exciting people nationwide (I will admit that he is doing a better job at this than any of the other Dems)) doesn't matter as much as he ability to excite people in Florida.

Posted by: SRock at November 11, 2003 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I used to believe Dean was unelectable but have changed my mind primarily because of how Dean plays in the culture wars. With his stated desire for white Southern working class votes and with his NRA background, Dean can take back WV and NH as well as put some of the Southern states in play (e.g. GA, AR, LA, KY, OK). If he plays the gay marriage issue as a matter of democracy ("I just did what the voters of my state wanted") rather than a cultural crusade like most Dems want, he can avoid getting killed on the issue by Bush.

Dean has already started feeling out a position on free trade, and he has the luxury of getting to play with the WTO, NAFTA, FTAA etc. on the symbolic level whereas Bush has to defend his terrible record on job loss.

Finally Dean's a former Gov. and as a matter of "electability", only somebody with executive experience has a real shot at beating Bush.

Posted by: General Glut at November 11, 2003 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

and I don't think Dean can do it. Clark can.

WRONG! Where does the justification for this come from? Is Clark not running on an anti-war platform as well? Let's face facts, the people voting in the Democratic primaries heavily lean anti-war. While it is possible that someone who voted for or supported the war could win the nomination, it is not probable. This is why Dean and Clark are doing the best; they are the most anti-war (other than the fringe candidates.)

So, Clark and Dean both have to run on similar, Iraq-was-not-good-policy platforms, and they are currently running similarly vis-a-vis Iraq. So Kevin, what is your argument, that Dean and Clark can say nearly the same thing foreign policy-wise but that Clark will succeed with it where Dean won't? This makes no sense unless you believe that the American people are far stupider than I do (and I think they're none too bright), and that all they have to see is four stars on a shoulder and it won't matter what the man is saying. In order for the Democratic nominee to win, he will have to successfully make and defend his case that Iraq was bad policy in order to have a chance. The ability to make this case is, in my opinion, based nearly entirely on its merits and not on who is making the case. Either the American people will buy it or they won't.

But as someone commented above, it is not about pro-war vs. anti-war, it is about how we go about achieving and ensuring security at a fundamental, abstract level. Here is an example of what I am talking about. Why does Sullivan think this? Here is why. Simplifying only a little bit, there are two basic foreign policy schools. The first, which I will call the Robert Wright school, operates under the notion that the way to neutralize those who would hurt us is to get them to not to want to hurt us. This is a long-term strategy which seeks to eliminate the disease and source of American hatred, not the symptom of anti-American violence and attacks. It is this policy which has gotten the Democrats labeled as weak on national security because it stresses non-military methods. Instead, it stresses diplomacy and trade and interconnected dependencies. It views military methods as the option of last resort because these methods, by bringing violence down on the very people we are trying to establish a symbiotic relationship with, undermine our long-term strategy, undermine it a great deal. There was an excerpt of Clark's book in the last issue of Washington Monthly, and a lifted quote was, "Forgoing an empire of arms need not mean forsaking our leadership role in the world."

Unfortunately, the other school of thought, which I would call the Hobbes school, is the one currently being employed. This one emphasizes force-of-arms, denigrates diplomacy and seeks to get people to fear us rather than respect us, let alone like us. I believe the first school is far superior because it seeks to prevent anti-Americanism rather than going after its symptoms. It seeks long-term security rather than short-term security. Also, I believe that it is the Hobbes school that led us to coddle dictators in the region and has brought us to the awful situation we are now in. But people like Tacitus and Sullivan and many war supporters in general think employing it is tantamount to losing the war on terror. We - the Democrats, liberal, bloggers, anti-war folk, whoever - need to make the case for the Robert Wright school and show why the Hobbes school, over the long run, is the inferior one. We need to show that the Robert Wright school of foreign policy is not weak but long-term and that the short-term security the Hobbes school brings us sows long-term insecurity (and brought us the first Gulf War and 9/11.) I think it can be done, but it will take time, talent, brains and persistence. If we fail in this we will lose the election.

Why don't you apply your own godanken experiment? Imagine Clark saying exactly what he wrote in his book, that we will reform the Middle East not through war but through trade and agreements and building a network of interconnected dependencies. Now imagine how Rove will attack this, by saying that Clark wants to talk rather than fight, that he is weak and afraid to defend America. Dean says pretty much the same thing as Clark, and Rove will attack it the same way. I do not see how you can argue that Clark will be successful and Dean won't.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler at November 11, 2003 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Can Dean convince the majority of the American people to trust him on national security and national defense? Everyone knows the arguments. My answer is NO.

Can Clark convince the majority of the American people to trust him on national security and national defense? Everyone knows the arguments. My answer is yes.

As to these two candidates, this is a fundamental question for Democratic voters. Everyone has an opinion, but I'm glad the question is being asked. That is my beef with Atrios, he doesn't think it should be asked when it absolutely must be asked, whatever your answer.

Posted by: Armando at November 11, 2003 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Apologies for the long, disjointed thoughts. I wish I could have put my thoughts down better, but as it was when I began writing my comment there were no comments, now there are lots and I want people to read mine, y'know.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler at November 11, 2003 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Why on earth anyone thinks that Howard Dean will be unable to stomp a man who LIED this nation into a war/disaster is beyond me.

Believe me, I would dearly love to agree with you! But beyond the confines of this weblog, my gut tells me that most people wish to believe the lies because they don't want to admit, even to themselves, that their country can be wrong. Maybe Howard Dean can wake them up, but given the relentless spinning on Iraq and 9/11 that the Bush campaign will do, they can also choose to remain in denial about a war that really wasn't necessary.

Posted by: David W. at November 11, 2003 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Mitch:

The answer is obvious - Clark was a 4 star General, decorated combat veteran, integral player in the Dayton peace accords, won the Kosovo War which lead to peace and stability in the Balkans while suffering ZERO casualties and working with our NATO allies.

Dean, to no discredit, simply can't say these things.

Posted by: Armando at November 11, 2003 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Armando,

We must also ask the the question, "Can Bush convince the American people to trust him on national security and national defense?"

Seems to me the answer to that one is a resounding "NO."

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still not quite understanding where this "Dean equates to McGovern" routine comes from, other than the lower quarters of Karl Rove's cortex.

McGovern recommended immediate unilateral disengagement from Vietnam.

Dean, contrariwise, doesn't recommend that kind of pullout. He wants to shut off the cozy inside dealing that is keeping the international community put off, and allow a truly transparent, fair, competitively bid internationalization of the reconstruction effort, which will then bring international security assistance as well.

Are those stances commensurable?

Yeah, Dean opposed the war from the get-go. But the smell around the Bush push to war is an increasingly rancid one, and I think you can count on the good offices of the CIA to ensure that the issue of politicized intelligence stays on the table.

McGovern was the candidate of "acid, amnesty and abortion," and Dean is a staunch abortion rights supporter, but frankly, I think a lot of moderate swing-vote suburban women are getting nervous about abortion rights, and one could do worse than pick up their votes.

There are other disconnected perceptions. McGovern didn't have a high NRA rating, which is going to matter in some of those centrist swing states. Dean does -- and he is able to pull base votes even though he has that rating.

Nor was McGovern as visibly motivated and pissed-off as Dean is. The anger issue may well not play with some elements of the general-election crowd, but damn, will it ever galvanize the base. And the Democratic base has been noticably half-hearted in its turnout in the last few cycles.

Al Franken was up in Madison for the big media reform conference there, and this hit the wires as a result:

"Speaking in Manhattan, Kan., last week, Franken said he was warned that he may not receive an especially warm reception in the largely conservative town.

"Instead, however, he said he was greeted by an auditorium filled with 2,000 "rabid, rabid Bush haters.""

Don't underestimate anger.

A final note on the McGovern comparison:

What really murdered McGovern in 1972 was Tom Eagleton. Selecting for VP a man who had several times been given electroshock therapy was just incalculably damaging. Without the Eagleton mis-step, GMG would still almost certainly have lost, but it wouldn't have been the landslide that it was.

I agree that Clark's an exceptionally impressive man, and I heard him give a very solid and well-delivered speech on the radio the other night. This guy could get traction with moderates and even some grown-ups on the right.

However, Clark has a couple of serious liabilities in his own portfolio. One is his alleged trigger-happiness during the Kosovo war, in which he instructed the head of UK forces, General Jackson, to use force if necessary in order to prevent the incoming Russian contingent from assuming control of the Pristina airport.

Jackson's response, which I think you will hear much more of, was "Sir, I'm not starting World War Three for you."

Rash. Belligerent. Barely under control. A man with potential psychological problems, who was ready to take under fire the troops of what is still a nuclear superpower.

Or so that will be heard in the chords of the Mighty Wurlitzer.

I don't necessarily agree with that, but then again, I began to find the MW discordant a long time ago.

Clark also has that painful bit of recent tape in which he's seen and heard to praise Republicans. That's going to make him look shallow and opportunistic and turncoat, and that darn liberal media will be happy to help paint him as such.

Posted by: marquer at November 11, 2003 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think you're leaving out a vital point -- Dean is running a superb campaign, and his opponents are not.

This is more relevant than you might think; Gore was an excellent prospect but ran a lousy campaign and lost an election he should have won to W. Campaigns only change 5% or so of the voters' minds, but since we assume that the election will be that close to start with (and if it's not, then there's no point in caring), we have to look at the success of the campaigns so far. Dean's campaign took him from an asterisk eight months ago to the frontrunner and probable nominee. This is an organization which will do a good job of supporting its excellent candidate.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 11, 2003 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

And how is it that Bush supposedly has such a great record on fighting terrorism? Since the war ended and the mission was "accomplished," another 250 U.S. citizens have been killed by what our government calls "terrorists," and thousands more have been wounded, many grievously.

This is an abysmal record, and rather than being Bush's strong suit, it's his weakest.

Posted by: jduffy at November 11, 2003 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Unless Clark starts campaigning in uniform, the value of his "four stars" is almost nil, IMHO. Nobody knows him as "The General", everyone knows him as "the guy who used to be a general and a CNN talking head".

Unless you can show him in uniform, the average person is not going to be impressed by the fact that he used to be a general. W used to be a failed businessman, too. Clark may have been a great general, but today he's simply another guy running for President and not as good at is as most of the other guys who are doing the same thing (not really his fault - he's just learning how to be a politician).

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Clark would have those very same problems Dean would have to be honest, possibly worse. They'd roll out every enemy Clark ever made in the military to rip him to shreads.

Clark would need to be strong to go against that. Much stronger than he has been to date, to be honest.

It'll take a strong candidate and a strong campaign to counter the 200 mil blitz. What will it take?

When people WATCH those commercials. Doubts should form in their minds..doubts about who is putting them on. If they are being misled. If they are actually being told anything worthwhile.

But it'll take a strong candidate and a strong campaign. So far, only Dean has been up to the task.

That's what it'll take to beat Bush. My mind is wide open. The other campaigns have time to turn it around...but there are a few rules.

Basically, forget about attacking Dean. Build yourself up and tear Bush down. That's the game we're playing. Attacks on Dean only make yourself look bad...politically orientated and the like.

BTW..here's an idea, has there been any thought put forward to how any Washington-based candidate will be a drawback? That one came from Congress will be a big negative?

It kinda makes sense..to be honest.

Posted by: Karmakin at November 11, 2003 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Listen guys, Howard Dean is a great candidate. People are just looking for a Vermont liberal that wants to raise their taxes and don't let anyone tell you different. Now if you all would hurry up and nominate Dr. Dean, we could start running the first set of ads. That $200 million is beginning to burn a hole in my pocket.

Posted by: Karl Rove at November 11, 2003 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I AM a swing voter. Would I vote for Dean? It would be tough to vote to increase my taxes by a few thousand dollars. That certainly isn't in his favor. I do want universal healthcare, but it seems like all the candidates offer are piecemeal solutions which cost a lot, without actually going all the way.

There are a lot of things I don't agree with Dean on, but I do respect the guy, and it would be nice to have someone at the helm who has an air of competance. Bush is reasonably competant, but comes off as a simpleton sometimes.

My guess is that the economy will be a lot better in a year. I'm thinking we'll be around 5.5% unemployment, and improving. I have no idea how Iraq will be going, but it looks like Afghanistan is becoming a success. We'll have to see what happens with their Constitution and elections.

Posted by: Tom at November 11, 2003 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

For a while, I thought Clark would be more electable than Dean. I probably prefer Dean slightly on the issues, but suspect Clark would make a better president overall.

But on electability? Please! Take a break from asking yourself if Dean is electable to ask: if the other candidates' primary campaigns are unable to get any traction against Dean, why will they do any better against Bush? The conventional answer is "Because the Dean campaign can reach out to the left wing base," but I don't buy it. There are enough moderate primary voters that someone could have excited them (I expected Clark) and no one did. Indeed, except for Clark and Dean, we're dealing with candidates who have already been badly overmatched against Rove (Gephardt: expected to pick up 25 seats in 02 until outmaneuvered on Iraq and Homeland Security.) If Baghdad is peaceful and the economy is booming, we couldn't win with George Washington. If not, energy, charisma, turnout, and fundraising skills (Soros!) will count for a lot.

I find listening to Dean or reading his blog site literally anti-depressing. I encourage other Democrats to see the positive.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 11, 2003 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think many of you are missing a larger point. Presidents are rarely elected based on their position papers and specific policies. Far more often, they are elected based on voters' vague sense of "likeability" and "presidentiality." While we all dither back and forth about NRA ratings and civil unions and Iraq policy, et cetera, I would suggest that none of things matter much come next November.

You can argue that this is a horrible way to choose a leader - and I'd agree with you - but it doesn't change the situation any. This is why I worry about Dean's chances in the general election (though I'd vote for him if he gets the nomination). He strikes me on the likeability front as prickly and defensive and somehow just doesn't seem particularly presidential. This has nothing to do with his term as governor nor any of his policy stands, it's about personal style.

Clark comes off as aloof and intellectual, which presents some challenges against faux-folksy Bush, but presidential? You bet.

Posted by: apostropher at November 11, 2003 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

First, I'm a pretty conservative Republican, so you can discount what I have to say if you want.

Second, I think Dean is as strong a candidate as the Dems have. The country is still divided 50/50; maybe it's 52/48 (GOP/Dems) in the wake of 9/11, but in any event it's still pretty close; the election will depend on (1) who gets their base vote out and (2) who can compete best for the 5-10% undecided voters in the middle.

Dean clearly has the best shot at motivating the Dem base. The question is whether that will come at the expense of alienating the undecideds. That's certainly a risk, but Dean has the capacity to "reposition" himself for the general election on every issue except the war - he can be pro-gun, moderate on abortion rights, middle of the road on taxes, whatever he thinks it takes and (a) the base will stick with him and (b) the undecideds might buy it. Also, he can raise far more money than any other Dem. So, if I was a partisan Dem, I'd go with Dean.

Posted by: DBL at November 11, 2003 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I'll come back to what I've said before about Dean and the midwest. I live in Ohio and specifically in a great republican fundraising area. The liberals here are a minority and all the more passionate because of that status. Dean is rarely mentioned here. Perhaps the liberals in this area are getting more conservative through osmosis (the only person I know talking up Dean is a recent transplant from Minnesota)but Dean seems to appeal too much to the far left (yes I know that his policies are not far left but perception is reality). Between that and his testiness being the primary thing people seem to remember about the guy (again perception is reality), I think he's got a tough fight to win over and enthuse a majority beyond the faithful.

If he wins-over the people who will never vote for Bush anyway then what kind of victory is that?

Posted by: carsick at November 11, 2003 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

As the Weekly Standard says:

" But if the electorate sees Bush losing his grasp of the war, economic strength will not prevent political setbacks. In 1966 and 1968, Democrats were presiding over the sixth and eighth years, respectively, of the strongest economic expansion in U.S. history. But in those same years, a marked loss in confidence in President Johnson's conduct of the Vietnam war coincided with a 47-seat loss in the U.S. House in 1966 and with a decline in the Democratic presidential vote from 61 percent to 43 percent between 1964 and 1968."

Posted by: GT at November 11, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that the 2004 election is largely going to be a referrendum on the Bush presidency, and Bush is increasingly unpopular.

That doesn't mean we can just run any candidate we want and beat Bush.

Our candidate has to be credible on national defense, and I just don't see where Dean's strengths are on that issue. We all respect his stance on Iraq, but that's still a 50-50 issue for the country.

Posted by: grytpype at November 11, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an ABB (Anybody But Bush) voter, and I can be happy with either Clark or Dean. In fact, I think Mike Tyson would be a wiser, more articulate and more compassionate president than Bush.
But my gut tells me that in the end Clark is the guy who can win, and I say that as one who deeply admires Dean. Face it, national security will decide the race -- Rove has made no secret of the fact that military defense will be the centerpiece of Bush's campaign -- and Clark can challenge and expose Bush's many failures
while at the same time articulating a vision of defense based not on quixotic dreams of empire but on sober, thoughtful, hard-eyed realism.

Posted by: Baker at November 11, 2003 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

>If he wins-over the people who will never vote for Bush anyway then what kind of victory is that?

Maybe enough to win the election!

But we can't take that chance. We need a candidate with at least some crossover appeal.

Posted by: grytpype at November 11, 2003 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

apostropher - I'd encourage you to look at the state-by-state breakdown in the early primary states. Where people are paying attention, Dean generally has the best positive/negative numbers among all the candidates. However you may feel, when people start taking a look at Howard Dean, they like what they see. He may be "prickly", but that often comes off as "not taking a lot of sh*t", and people *dig* that.

People are ready for an outsider. Dean is the most electable candidate, by far.

Clark could have been, but he just doesn't have the right skills and experience for it. That's not to mention that his organization has been horrid - he'll get wiped out in the general election if he were to get that far. Don't forget the oldest lesson - organization is the key! Dean's is the most organized (nationally - Gep is probably better organized in Iowa but it's everything he has), Clark's is the least (of the serious candidates).

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I've heard that he's unelectable, but he's gotten support with literally hundreds of thousands of people writing checks, and thousands of people when he talks in east podunk.

He's too liberal, except that the liberals seem to thing that he's way too conservative.

He's so conservative, that Vermont is pretty much the only state out there not having a fiscal meltdown right now.

You can imagine how angry I am, as a swing voter, to find out these horrible things about Dean. My hands are trembling so violently, I can barely write his name on the check.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at November 11, 2003 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

The best candidate you guys could have had in the next election would have been Al Gore and he's not running.

Also, I have no idea why so many people seem to think that Clark or Kerry are going to get a free pass on foreign policy and defense just because they've served in the military with distinction. As someone pointed out earlier, Chambliss smashed Cleland with homeland security and Bush is going to hit the Democratic candidate on the issue no matter who runs. In my estimation, Lieberman is the only credible candidate on national security who is running and it would take a miracle for him to win.

I expect Dean to win -- although it's too early to really tell and I expect Bush to paint him as a weak kneed liberal who isn't serious about defending America and who wants to raise everybody's taxes. My guess is that's going to work out pretty well for us, especially given that Dean's war stance and this latest ugly, anti-southern flap may mean the Dems aren't going to take any states in the South.

Dean, Clark, or whoever takes the nomination is going to have a VERY difficult, uphill, fight against Bush. That doesn't mean they can't pull it off, but anyone who's realistic would have to say the odds are against them right now...

Posted by: John Hawkins at November 11, 2003 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

it all depends on what's happening in Iraq.

Posted by: GT at November 11, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

I attend monthly Dean Meetups in my area, and most of the people in attendance are political independents. There isn't a wildass leftie in the crowd- they are mostly smart, motivated types who are thrilled to find themselves excited about politics for a change. I think to understand the Dean campaign it's important to look past the candidate himself- this thing is a lot bigger than Howard Dean- it's a movement to create a living, breathing, functional democracy. The media and most political pundits still don't have a grasp of what is going on- I suspect the full breadth of the Dean movement won't be generally understood until after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Tom. Dumping his stupid tax rollback issue would be the best move for Dean on electability.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 11, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

That too. Dean should stop talking about tax rollbacks. It's a losing proposition. Just say you won't vote to renew it.

Posted by: GT at November 11, 2003 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from Kucinich, Dean's staked out the clearest, starkest, furthest-Left positions on war and taxes. That's his strength right now: the straight dope, no nuanced contortions. But it leaves him badly exposed to attacks from the right in the general election; if Republicans try to caricature him as a guy who was opposed to war to depose Saddam no matter what, and as a guy who wants to raise everyone's taxes by repealing every cent of the Bush tax cuts . . . well, he'd have a hard time arguing those are unfair claims.

I'm sure not going to give Democrats any advice. But Dean's not just staked out positions to the Left on the key issues of the day; he's also a "hot" personality (i.e., angry, combative, at times condescending), and that plays perfectly to Bush's strengths (see debates against McCain and Gore).

Now, what will be really interesting, if the final ticket is Dean/Clark, is a Clark-Cheney debate. I'd bet Josh Marshall would pay to see that one.

Posted by: Crank at November 11, 2003 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the posts so far seem to concentrate on the national security/Iraq war issue -- and I think Clark has an advantage there. But I think this thread (and Democrats in general)underestimates the devastating effect of Dean's position on rolling back Bush's tax cuts.

Many Democrats (and I count myself here) can see the fiscal and economic logic of at least a partial rollback and a restructuring. But that's not enough to form a majority -- and for everyone else taxes tend to be a litmus test issue. The reason why is that it's simple for opposition media to sum up Dean's position ("He'll raise your taxes"). I already see this on Fox News and the notion is spreading and sticking to him.

People hate taxes, and most are unable or unwilling to do the analysis to see how little benefit they are getting from Bush's tax cuts versus the social and fiscal cost to the country, and the disproportionate benefit to very wealthy taxpayers. Remember, 70% of our electorate can be convinced that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for 9/11, simply by saying the words "Iraq" and "9/11" in close proximity often enough. This is also an electorate that was easily convinced that estate taxes are some kind of "death tax" that the government levies on everyone who dies (those bastards!). For most of these voters, the equation is simple: Tax Cuts = GOOD!; Higher taxes = BAD :-(

Democrats need to get in front of this issue -- and Dean needs to revise his position of simply rolling back Bush's tax cuts. It's clear that Bush's tax cuts need to be reformed, but the Dem candidates need to make it clear how they are going to do this without increasing taxes for most Americans.

Posted by: scottd at November 11, 2003 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Can Dean convince the majority of the American people to trust him on national security and national defense? Everyone knows the arguments. My answer is NO.

Can Clark convince the majority of the American people to trust him on national security and national defense? Everyone knows the arguments. My answer is yes."

So what's the most effective way for us to see to it that the 2004 Dem ticket is Dean/Clark?

Posted by: Skinny at November 11, 2003 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

AB B(or Lieberman) voter who favors, in order, Dean, Clark, Edwards, Kerry, Gep.

First, how in god's name can we determine Dean's electability based on security, when we don't know whom he's running with? I mean, at this point in 1999 (and for a long time afterwards), W was struggling to come up with the name of more than 3 foreign heads of state. He was widely recognized--even by the fawning SCLM--as a complete idiot when it came to international affairs. Then Rove sat Dick Cheney next to him (or perhaps Cheney sat himself), and W all of a sudden looked credible. If Dean were to get the nomination, he would likely choose someone like Cleland or Clark or Graham who would bring him some more credibility in this field. And at least Dean has followed international events, which is more than W could ever say.

Second, it pays to note how Judis ends his note to Marshall. He says,

I fear a cataclysm in the fall if the Democrats nominate Dean. Unfortunately, the alternatives are only slightly better.

Basically, he's despondent about Dean. But he's pretty despondent generally about the candidates.

So for all those of you who worry about Dean's electability (and write him off even though he is likely to address perceived weaknesses on his ticket--he has certainly won the contest for "surrounding yourself with the best staff" thus far in the primary), can you please answer the following questions:

If you're worried about Bush's $200M, then why shy away from the candidate who is likely to get closest to that mark?

Dean has done phenomenal work at building a grassroots network of volunteers, which will be an important tool to use against the armies of (paid) Republicans operatives. If you don't have Dean come April, how are you going to replace that advantage?

The DLC/DNC status quo has lost us several elections in a row recently. If you're sticking with this basic strategy, how do you propose to address past weaknesses, particularly in terms of turning out the traditional base, to actually win one this time around?

Finally, I think Kerry is eminently electable. On paper. But I know most voters are not going to review his policy stance. And, well, he puts me to sleep. If he's putting this very motivated watcher to sleep now, how in god's name is he going to capture uninterested voters' attention next year?

Posted by: emptywheel at November 11, 2003 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Dumping his stupid tax rollback issue

I think it's too late for that. The R's have too many soundbites, and if he flips the R's will be claiming he'll flip back to tax increases if elected.

Posted by: Ron at November 11, 2003 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

First things first: enough with the word "meme." It's spent, it's over, and there are synonyms a'plenty.

And about the whole "electability" issue: at this point, I think that any Dem is electable, some moreso than others. I think that Dean, Clark and Edwards are the most electable of the bunch, with Dean being the most electable.

It's a bit presumptuous to predict what voter attitudes will be this far out from the election, but we need a candidate who is more than a one-trick pony. Right now, that eliminates Clark, who needs to get his act together and be able to give some concrete positions and strategies on subjects other than the military/Iraq. A lot of thie lies in the fact that his campaign staff is rudderless at the present time.

Dean and Edwards are a bit more multi-faceted in their platform objectives, and have more concrete ideas on how to approach the ills of the country. But each has his own caveats: Dean's from-the-hip, plain talk style can be tough to swallow at times, and can make him stumble. Edwards' lack of political experience and close ties with corporate law can also be a liability, and his war position is inconsistent.

As for the others, there's just not enough "oomph" in their tanks to keep going for much longer.

But back to "electability": is there any way to know right now? Bush is vulnerable in many areas, and (if recent canvassing in New Hampshire is any barometer) it's too soon to say where people stand. In Manchester, NH, for example, there are still a lot of folks who aren't paying attention to the primary or the general election in 2004. They are worried about more immediate tasks: putting food on the table, keeping the house warm, making sure ends meet, or still recovering from the recent off-year elections.

Give it time. Dean, Clark, Edwards - even Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman (the others being far too fringe to be electable) - could all beat Bush, given the right circumstances. But it's just too soon to tell, and it's rather brazen (and, frankly, foolhardy) to speculate otherwise.

Posted by: DCFD-Rudi at November 11, 2003 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

You can't hold a hard line on "fiscal responsibility" and start pandering with tax cuts for this group and that group.

When Dean starts sucking up to various special interest groups on tax breaks, then he's ceding the high ground. He may do it, but I hope he doesn't. I don't need my $600 tax cut (meanwhile, my health insurance costs are going up $1200 next year - thanks Dubya!) as much as I need for my children not to be saddled with the cost of it.

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

>>>>I think it's too late for that. The R's have too many soundbites, and if he flips the R's will be claiming he'll flip back to tax increases if elected.

Who cares, Ron? The flip-flop is the most overrated political attack. People love it when you flop in their direction. They like it better than if you were with them the whole time. It shows you're responsive.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 11, 2003 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a Bushie, I think Dean is as electable as Clark.

Dean's major, major, major drawback is that he is a Northerner from a small state. The rest is trivial. Dean has plenty of time to shift to the center on his most liberal issues, and he's not *that* much more of a blue-blooded draft dodger than W.

Dean's major strong points are that he sounds like he believes what he's saying and that he has a gift (so far) for raising money. Clark might be able to catch up on those issues, but he hasn't shown it yet.

Clark's main strong points are that he's a sucessful general, and theoretically a southerner. Still, he has yet to make his vision clear. He comes across as smart in the Josh Marshall-style intellectual one-on-ones, but I don't know what he wants, other than to be president.

I agree that a Dean-Clark (probably in that order) ticket is very formidable, which might be why Clark hasn't been going for Dean's blood in the way that most of the other Dems have.

Posted by: J Mann at November 11, 2003 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

ahhhhhhhhh. dean is not unelectabale. i dont care what ads bush/rove have in store for dean, people dont understand that we should not keep playing defense and make bush play defense. and the best way to make bush play defense is two words --SAUDI ARABIA. dubya and his daddy's company the carlyle group DID BUSINESS WITH THE FRICKIN BIN LADEN FAMILY FOR CHRIS SAKES. do you think the voters in mississippi will be cool with bush after they learn that bush did business with that sumbitch bin laden. we have so much ammunition to use against bush, it should be a cakewalk for any of the candidates to beat him.
1.bush and the carlyle group did business with the bin laden family.
2. bush flew the bin laden family and the saudi family out on 9/13/01 when all other flights were suppossed to be grounded. a man in need of a heart transplant couldnt get a heart from a plane because it was grounded but BIN LADEN'S FAMILY is able to get on a plane without any questioning from the fbi.
3. someone in his administration(ahem rove) leaked the name of a cia officer
4. bush lied to get us into war

trust me if dean or any other candidate was willing to engage in smashmouth politics and actually fought back against bush and made bush/rove go on the defensive, they would get demolished.

on the matter if the economy or iraq got better, i still think this wouldnt hurt the democrats too much. political analysts Charles Cook said yesterday in a forum on the 2004 senate races that the economy in paticular(if it got better) at the most would either have a neutral effect or if it got worse would be a liability. there is no way that bush could make up for 3 million jobs in a year. at best maybe we could get 1.5 million jobs back.
we could also see a big improvement in iraq and if we did if i were dean i would keep saying that bush may have made things better but he also made things harder than they should have been.

bush is very beatable by any of these candidate even dean, but for any of them to win they cant lay awake worrying about what rove will do to them. rove should be wondering what we will do do to them.

Posted by: dee at November 11, 2003 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kimmitt's right. Dean's campaign has been very well-run, as opposed to virtually everyone else's in the Democratic bloodletting...er, primary season.

I think the Dems chances are slim in 2004, especially with the uptick in the economy, which now looks sustainable in a way it wasn't before.

I think Dean is the best candidate because his supporters are passionate about his candidacy.
At the least, he'll offer voters a very clear choice. If he fails, he'll clean the Augean stables of the backward-looking Democratic party and put in in a better position for a successful 2008 run.

I see supporting Clark as a defensive move--he can withstand Bush's critiques because he's a war hero. But he's never even held elective office. It could be claimed that he was a good man, but in no way prepared for the job. This criticism would stick, I think. Clark is also a kind of a whiz-kid type, impressed by his own achievements, and lacks the common touch in a way that Gore did. Dean is not necessarily likable, but he does seem to be more of a human being.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 11, 2003 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it depressing how the terms of the tax debate have shifted so far to the right over the last 20 years.

W. inherited a gov't that collected 20% of GDP in revenues. Now it collects 16.6% of GDP.

Under Reagan the gov't collected 22% of GDP.

Now a candidate who proposes a tax structure that is more conservative than Reagan's (Dean), ie returning to 20% of GDP, is labeled "far left".

WTF?

Posted by: KJD at November 11, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Electability, I think, comes down to not saying anything stupid and looking normal in front of the cameras. Dean and Clark both seem to stick their feet in their mouths quite a bit, and both look and act abnormal, though Deano seems a tad more polished than Clark sometimes, but Dean gets that space cadet look that makes me laugh so hard.
Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman, and Gephardt are all more electable than either Clark or Dean, unless Dean and Clark are able to hone their abilities to appear and act like a normal politician.

Posted by: Reg at November 11, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

You are completely full of it Kevin. By the time this election comes around the people are not going to be supporting Bush in anyway over Iraq. It will be an albatross. Why do you think Dean is already using the carrier landing *against* him in early ads.

The meme exists simply because the anti-Dean crowd can't see their heads for their asses. And you are helping to perpetuate this destructive meme.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 11, 2003 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I like KJD's suggestion. Dean starts using the line that he wants to tax like Reagan. Brilliant.

Posted by: emptywheel at November 11, 2003 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

People love it when you flop in their direction.

That may well be true. I was basing that comment on what *I* would think if Dean flipped on tax increases. And I am not be your best indicator :)

Still, would you want your candidate to look wishy-washy when looking down that $200M?

Posted by: Ron at November 11, 2003 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I live in MO but do part time work for a law firm KS, which you know is very Repbulican. My boss is a lawyer who is a Democrat, who supported and liked Clinton. I believe he is minimally active as a Democrat.

He is disgusted with the whole lineup of Dems, but particularly Dean and Kerry. (Something like "no east coast liberal will get votes out here, or money from any of the Dems I know". The time I talked with him was before Clark announced, so he did not have too much to say about him.

Everyone who is a kos daily reader believes this is a very important election. I will support whomever the nominee is. I think the Rove machine will make the election ugly, ugly. Actually I would like to see a Clark/Edwards ticket with a promise that Dean would get HHS or whatever cabinate office he wants. (I think he would be great at HHS, and could have a real say in finding something to fix the health care system as well as Medicare.

Posted by: JWC at November 11, 2003 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are becoming ridiculous. Totally and utterly ridiculous.

What evidence do you have that Dean is unelectable? His numbers stack up very well against Bush at this point - some polls show him with a slim lead - which, to me, means he is electable. Not a shoo-in, merely electable.

Besides, can you prove that moderates don't like him? What makes you all believe that Dean is all about antiwar liberals and the left-wing? Is his record as VT governor, a moderate record in every respect, irrelevant?!

I'm no Deanite. My vote is not yet cast. But you guys (meaning Drum and Josh Marshall) seem to be simply parroting media conventional wisdom instead of reasoned analysis. It is really starting to bother me, and you're giving the GOP a major boost.

The battle over a nominee should be a constructive process, not a destructive one. Meaning, I think My Guy has a better economic plan than Your Guy. As opposed to, Your Guy is worthless.

Folks like Kevin Drum sit around and speculate as to how bad it's going to be when the $200 million attack machine lets loose on Dean. Yet he's held himself well against other Dems. Clark has lots of weak spots, too.

In the end, I'm profoundly disappointed in people who make claims to want to get rid of Bush, yet lose their nerve and courage when the going gets tough, and refuse to support someone who has a clear, wide following among Democrats. It is sickening, truly and deeply sickening, to see this defeatism so early on, and especially because you, Kevin, have absolutely nothing to base this damning opinion on.

Posted by: eugene at November 11, 2003 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Money isn't the end all, be all. Just ask Roy Barnes.

Posted by: Chad Peterson at November 11, 2003 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

So, according to Judis, Dean has committed supporters, is raising money innovatively (scads of it, btw), and is running a campaign so effectively his opponents are "flummoxed."

THE MAN MUST BE STOPPED!

Posted by: BriVT at November 11, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

There is another aspect of the Dean candidacy that is worth noting- voter turnout. Dean voters would crawl on bare knees through 5 miles of broken glass in the middle of a snowstorm to cast a ballot for their guy. They will also work their butts off to bring unregistered and disaffected voters to the polls in Nov. '04. For an example of the kind of grassroots fervor I'm talking about, check this out- the Dean campaign is putting 5000 volunteers in Iowa the week prior to the primary. That's 5000 people who are driving from all over the country to spend a week knocking on doors and spreading the word for Dean.
It's amazing, and none of the other candidates can muster anything remotely like that kind of grassroots suport.

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's possible that having over $200 mil to burn may actually be a hazard for the Bush team. Remember, this is the team that staged the aircraft carrier nonsense and outed a CIA agent. It is over the top moves like these that have alienated a number of independent voters, the very group that can tip the election one way or the other. If this team believes it is against the wall there is no telling what kind of outrageous acts they will attempt.

Posted by: Cali at November 11, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

What kills me most about the tax issue/electability issue is this: Judis and Marshall are in love with the Clinton record, and Clinton's people push the hardest on this tax thing! They're the ones who have the holy belief in tax increases!! Now they have the nerve to wonder why the top candidate isn't electable? Why he's having trouble with Southern white men? It's just obvious... they're doing it! They're kneecapping him with their stupid tax policy!

Posted by: wellbasically at November 11, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

If you portray Dean as anything but the consumate centrist he is you've forfeited the semantic war already and are well on your way to another miserable defeat.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at November 11, 2003 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Kevin, you're a smart guy, and this is a great blog, but that's the dumbest thing I've ever seen you post.

No election, aside from 1944 and 1864, has ever been primarily about national security. When we get into an actual hot war with a draft and mandatory rationing and everything else that real war entails, let me know. Until then, the election is about the financial well-being of the voters.

Further, if any Dem is going to take on the Wurlitzer and win, it's going to be Dean. Why? Because he's not content to sit back on the defensive. Why do you think he so stubbornly kept bringing up the Confederate battle flag? When the Republicans reach for the race card now, he can say, "See, this is what I was talking about." That weapon has effectively been removed from their arsenal.

I like Wesley Clark, but God forbid we send his mild-mannered self out to face their firing squad. If Dean can't beat them, or if they can't be beat with Dean-style tactics, then they can't be beaten.

Posted by: chris at November 11, 2003 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

"This is also an electorate that was easily convinced that estate taxes are some kind of "death tax" that the government levies on everyone who dies (those bastards!)."

This has been one of the real successes of the Democrats: pretending that the term "death tax" was just something invented by the republicans. Pull a book off the shelf about how to manage your estate, and you'll find the word all over the place. Generally, it's used as a general term referring to both inheritance and estate taxes. Sure, it sounds a lot worse, and that is why the Republicans use it (since, as I understand it, the Feds only have an Estate Tax), but it was hardly made out of whole cloth.

"It's clear that Bush's tax cuts need to be reformed, but the Dem candidates need to make it clear how they are going to do this without increasing taxes for most Americans."

Well Kerry and Lieberman can make that clear, because their plan is to only rollback the cuts for the higher brackets. Dean, on the other hand, has said that he plans to roll back the whole damn thing. And the whole thing isn't a one time check for $300. The whole thing for a middle class family is often upwards of a couple thousand dollars a year, every year.

Posted by: Tom at November 11, 2003 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

carsick: If he wins-over the people who will never vote for Bush anyway then what kind of victory is that?

Winning over people who will never vote for Bush anyway (a.k.a."Nader voters") sounds like an excellent strategy.

If Gore had won over everybody who voted for Nader in 2000, we'd be discussing how to reelect President Gore over annointed GOP candidate Jeb Bush.

And, for Kevin: I don't follow part of your reasoning. If Bush's campaign will be spending like drunk sailors starting in April, shouldn't the Dems try to nominate the guy with the most money, so he can spend right back at 'em? Sure, I can think of some "devastating" anti-Dean attack ads, but I can think of equally devastating ads attacking any of the candidates, including Clark. Fair ads? No, but like you said, that's got nothing to do with it.

I don't know who I'll vote for; I waffle between Dean and Clark and sometimes Edwards. But, I just don't buy this "electable/nonelectable" line of argument. Different people use it to mean different things and all too often it only means "this guy doesn't match up with what I look for in a candidate, and of course my preferences are universal, so he must be unelectable."

Posted by: YT at November 11, 2003 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you that it's down to Dean and Clark -- they're the only two with any boldness, the one quality needed in any legitimate contender to W.

But Clark must come up with a campaign -- and quick. No one will elect him president solely because he used to be a general. Voters do not want to live in the past (as John Kerry unfortunately is learning the hard way). And if Clark's campaign is anti-war, anti-gun and pro-abortion, I fail to see how that makes more him electable than Dean.

Posted by: John Q. at November 11, 2003 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the debate about Dean's electability so far assumes a defensive posture. Bush's record is a target-rich environment. Whoever goes on the offensive against Bush, attacking him relentlessly on his credibility and his inauthenticity can win. Dean has demonstrated the ability to run an aggressive campaign and his may be the only campaign capable of raising the funds to put Bush on the defensive.

Dean's centrist record is actually sellable, although I do question his ability to make the sale. I found his lack of adroitness on the flag issue to be disturbing for this reason. Dean's positions are completely defensible from a policy standpoint, but if he can't reframe the debate then he's toast. Which is why I'm considering switching my support to Clark.

I'm still not entirely sold on Clark. He has not yet been the focus of attacks, so I don't know how well he or his campaign can handle it. I'd like to see him go through a trial by fire before the party settles on him as the chosen one.

Posted by: aregee at November 11, 2003 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Rob: You can't hold a hard line on "fiscal responsibility" and start pandering with tax cuts for this group and that group.

Any tax restructuring is going to benefit or hurt some groups more than others. I think what determines whether a particular plan is "pandering" is how narrowly focused a benefit is. I don't see how the broad principle of progressive taxation is necessarily in conflict with fiscal responsibility.

I also think the broad principle of applying economic stimulus through tax cuts is useful in a time of recession -- even if that leads to temporary deficits. The portions of the recent tax cuts that benefited mostly the lower and middle class wage earners (ie, the parts Democrats pushed through) fit the bill as stimulus and they should be maintained. I make this argument on the basis of economics -- but the fact that they are also helpful politically should not be overlooked by Democrats.

Personally, I agree with you regarding whether I would give up my $600 tax cut in favor of a more responsible approach -- but it's a loser issue in the general election.

Posted by: scottd at November 11, 2003 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Tom, Kerry and Lieberman are done. They bet on the war and lost. If there was a nuke program they might have a shot, but they're toast now.

The major test will be Clark who is antiwar and antitax.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 11, 2003 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

YT has an excellent point, and it shows how Dean is a brilliant tactician (or Joe Trippi, either way Dean is at least smart enough to take good advice).

Dean was very smart to win the left over to him early on. It cements them to him. He doesn't have to worry about a challenge from his left or pleasing them with embarassing and costly comments in the general election race - because they're already loyal to him. With one front sewn up he can commit his troops to the battle front that truly matters - taking on the GOP.

Why this is so difficult for otherwise intelligent people like Kevin Drum to understand is beyond my comprehension. Just because Dean appeals to the left doesn't mean he can't appeal to other folks when it matters! Dean is not Kucinich. Dean is Dean, a moderate Democrat. In an alternative universe he is Kevin Drum's wet dream.

So sad, so very sad, to see centrists such as Kevin, vital to the United Front cause against Bush, defecting to the defeatist side so soon. Irvine has finally gotten to him. Spending so much time around conservatives has warped his brain beyond measure.

Posted by: eugene at November 11, 2003 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

If Gore had won over everybody who voted for Nader in 2000, we'd be discussing how to reelect President Gore

Somebody gave me a fascinating link of exit polls in 2000. One of the questions:
If [Bush and Gore] were the only two presidential candidates on the ballot today, who would you have voted for?
Green voters said
Gore:2
Bush:1
Would not have voted for president: 31.

Posted by: Ron at November 11, 2003 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

ut you guys (meaning Drum and Josh Marshall) seem to be simply parroting media conventional wisdom instead of reasoned analysis. It is really starting to bother me, and you're giving the GOP a major boost.

Ya know, this, um, stuff used to bother me, but now I have a new perspective. It's not bad at all for Dean to be dismissed by the Kool Kidz inside the beltway. His whole campaign's outsider cred is helped by this sort of attitude. So, as an open message to all inside-the-beltway types, continue on about this message. One thing American's don't like is to be dictated to in such an obvious manner. We'll decide who's electable with our checkbooks and our votes, thank you very much.

[yeah, I know Kevin's not inside-the-beltway; I'm directing my message at those who are. Although I don't think Kevin's attitude does much damage to Dean either, no offense intended to the proprietor of this fine blog]

Posted by: BriVT at November 11, 2003 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one sick and tired of the term "meme"?

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at November 11, 2003 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

All the anti-dean commentary, to me, boils down to the belief that the Democrats will let the republicans completely define the next election and the democratic candidate. Well, the republicans will, and they've got 200 million to do it--if we let them. If we don't, we have as agood a chance of winning with Dean as with any of the other candidates. If we fail to define our candidate and our dream for the country, we'll lose with clark or with any of the others. Arguign about whether Dean could lose, or any of them could lose, is a loser's game. For all you anti-Dean people, get out and fight for your own candidates, stop whining that they can't get any traction with the part of the electorate that is actually paying attention, and don't tell me they stand a better chance with the part of the electorate that isn't paying attention. I'm happy with Clark or Dean, and like most people I'd like a matchup between them. But you know what? Clark supporters can't really get more support by just dismissing or antagonizing Dean supporters. Its not a two man race. They are both competing with everyone for the same votes and if Clark can't get the votes on his own, I don't see how its my fault.

We want to see Clark do his best, come out swinging, and attract some attention. We'll move on over if he gets the nomination, or if he runs a good campaign. And if he can't run a good campaign now, he's going to lose to bush in the end.

The Judis/Marshall thing--whether its an idea or a meme or just a cheap pickup of RNC talking points is totally beside the point. We are going to have to fight for every vote and that means turning out people to do the grassroots convincing of their brothers, sisters in law, grocers, mail men, whatever. Kerry's people can't do it, Gephardt's people don't seem to be doing it, and so far clark's people aren't doing it. Dean's are.

aimai

Posted by: aimai at November 11, 2003 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Tom: This has been one of the real successes of the Democrats: pretending that the term "death tax" was just something invented by the republicans.

If Democrats have been successful at convincing anyone of this, it's news to me.

But, my main point wasn't "who invented the term death tax?" It was that the right has been successful in convincing so many voters that this was something that was going to affect them.

Posted by: scottd at November 11, 2003 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

BriVT, I would agree with you, stuff like this just makes Drum and Marshall look ignorant.

But I firmly believe that Bush can only be defeated by a United Front next fall. Meaning, whomever the Democratic nominee is, we unite behind him or her, no questions asked. We accept any and all supporters of that candidate, no questions asked. We seek out any and all Americans to vote for the Dem nominee - again, no questions asked. I don't care if they're Klan or Saints descended from heaven. Bush must be defeated and that will only happen if we maintain unity.

Unity doesn't mean we can't argue over who is the better candidate - it just means you do not criticize another candidate in a way that harms their general election chances.

Posted by: eugene at November 11, 2003 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Presidents are rarely elected based on their position papers and specific policies. Far more often, they are elected based on voters' vague sense of "likeability" and "presidentiality...He (Dean) strikes me on the likeability front as prickly and defensive and somehow just doesn't seem particularly presidential. This has nothing to do with his term as governor nor any of his policy stands, it's about personal style.

Amen. I'm a big Dean supporter and love his angry-man persona on the stump. But it's not looking too good in the debates. He has seemed incapable of articulating his points clearly and comes across looking like a pompous ass. Remember, I like the guy and even gave him money twice! But, he looked awful in the Rock the Vote debate.

I think there's more to the "likability" and intangible "Presidentiality" factor than many of the big policy issues themselves. Dean isn't scoring on "likability" and many will have doubts about his "Presidentiality"

That's not even counting his inane stance on tax rollbacks. It fits with his tough, fiscal position, and may even be the correct course, but it's news no one wants to hear, and political suicide. He could have slammed Bush's Cut just as hard, offered to let 'em run out, or better yet, scrap 'em and start from scratch with his own plan. But the truth is he's asking people for more of their money, and that's not gonna go over well. He's not even framing the issue well. If he did a better job exposing the distribution of the Bush Cuts (ala Krugman), he'd be better off. His argument that increasing local, property and state taxes ate your Bush cut is a loser. Nothing he does as President is going to get states and towns to lower taxes again. And the "Clinton taxes for another Clinton economy" is bull too. Sorry Howard, but the Clinton economy isn't coming back anytime soon no matter who is, was or will be President.

Posted by: Mr Furious at November 11, 2003 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one sick and tired of the term "meme"?

No, I hate it, too.

With one front sewn up he can commit his troops to the battle front that truly matters - taking on the GOP.

Why this is so difficult for otherwise intelligent people like Kevin Drum to understand is beyond my comprehension.

I totally agree. As someone else posted here or at Atrios, with folks like Josh merely parroting the c.w., why should we be wasting our time reading blogs when we could just read Newsweek?

Posted by: John Q. at November 11, 2003 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

An electable Democrat - a definition: Any Dem who has the fundraising muscle to beat President Bush. Positions, military record, tenure in office... they are all ancillary in our modern political system to the primary goal of getting your message out and constantly sticking it to the other guy.

I am a pragmatist and I will vote in the primaries for the Dem who can bring in the dough. At first, I thought it would be Edwards, with his contacts among the legal establishment. But now, it will be Dean(unless some credible floozy comes out of the closet), as he has been able to garner lots of grassroots and now UNION support. So I will vote for Dean. Clark will be a great VP and I hope he accepts the offer when Dean makes it after the convention. I also hope that Dean hires the guy who did Gov Ventura's ads before he came into office. His ads were low-budget, but brilliant.

I think Bush can be beaten unless two of the following three events happen before November 2004:
1) The economy really takes flight (and that means people believe the job market is good).
2) Saddam Hussein is captured/killed.
3) Osama bin Laden is captured/killed.

Posted by: Lisa at November 11, 2003 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

There is this odd notion that someone we have to worry about DEFENDING ourselves against ROVE's ATTACKS.

Let's think for a bit about going on the ATTACK ourselves AGAINST those INCOMPENTENTS in the White House.

FRAME THE DEBATE. SET YOUR OWN TERMS. Stop quivering in fear over what Rove might or might not do, for god's sake.

And even if you are fearful, only one candidate is going to have *any* cash to spend after March, and his name is Howard Dean.

Posted by: J from VJ at November 11, 2003 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a difference between being "unelectable" and "going to lose the election"? I don't think Dean is personally unelectable. His war stance is all he has, really, and that has propelled him to #1.

It's pretty clear that this war isn't protecting our security. The best thing you could say is that it's a way to hold on, zip up the country, take a few more buildings knocked down and buses blown up here in the US, and wait around until somebody invents a wind-car so we don't have to buy oil. (Don't laugh, that's the Israeli plan for dealing with population parity!) But there is plenty of room there for protecting the country and improving our chances for peace.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 11, 2003 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, I'd sure like to have one confirmed, generally reliable source to back-up the Clark, Clinton, DNC meme. I've seen Wesley Clark and followed his campaign from pre-Day One. He seems to march to his own drummer.

Posted by: JeffreyMaier at November 11, 2003 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

--national security is going to be the main theme of the election. I don't care if we like it or not, the Republicans are the ones with the money and the bully pulpit and they're going to hammer on it.

--hammer on it! And what exactly will they hammer down on-how well the war is going in Iraq? How well Bush is doing with his war plans or lack there of?

HOT TIP KEVIN - Cause I guess you're just not reading it. All this sudden talk about turning over Iraq to the Iraqis is Bush's desperate need to get out of Iraq ASAP-because this war is NOT going well.

War maybe an issue but it's now one Bush or the Republicans are going to be able to CROW about come 2004.

Bush Warns Extremists Seek to Rule Iraq
AP - 1 hour, 5 minutes ago
Foreign fighters who seek to install a Taliban-style government in Iraq are coordinating with Saddam Hussein loyalists to launch deadly attacks on U.S. troops, President Bush asserted Tuesday as he mourned rising casualties

Warhawks got us into this mess so we'll need a diplomat to get us out of it.

And if this true:
-and the war (raging, but bound to quiet some by election time, and to raise prospects of peace). The economy deprives the Democrat of the issue that would allow him to attract working class votes; the war splits the Democrats, but not the Republicans.

So (if the war bound to quiet some) indeed then WTF do we need Clark for since handling war in Iraq is his ONLY big selling issue-and the only thing he has any experience with-certainly not economy, health issues or social secutiry...

Dean might not know anything about WAR but then neither does George W. Bush or his all chickenhawk band. And higher productivity (GPD) claims won't help either if there are still no jobs for all those out-work Americans.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 11, 2003 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

>>>>Presidents are rarely elected based on their position papers and specific policies. Far more often, they are elected based on voters' vague sense of "likeability" and "presidentiality...

This is just not true, presidents lead our country to peace and prosperity -- or not. If you try to play the game this way you're going to go in circles. It's much easier to start out with the right policies, and then move on to charm school.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 11, 2003 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

How about this? -

Dean and Clark issue a joint statement, each pledging to select the other fellow for the VP slot once the Democratic convention is over. End of story- the rest of the field is toast, and we can then proceed to the convention and let the two of them fight it out for the Presidential nomination. This unifies the party, and puts the GOP on notice that they are about to face a kickass ticket....

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I would SO love that, Peter. "Either one you pick for the top slot, I'm gonna pick the other guy."

Thing is, I can't imagine someone gunning for #1 being able to settle for #2. And I can't imagine their voters being willing to accept it.

But oh, what a race that would be. A man can dream.

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 11, 2003 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Scott: I agree that the tax code needs fixin', and my opinion is that that will be done in some manner by any Democrat who wins the Presidency (how effective the reform will be hinges on how successful we are in electing Democrats to the House and Senate).

But as an election plank, I think it a lot more effective to say "I'm going to go back to Clinton's tax rates" rather than "I'm going to cut taxes on the middle class and soak the rich." The former is simple, direct, and gets across the idea (not meme!) that we have to fix Bush's mess. The latter is playing right into the way the Republicans would like to paint us, all panty-waisted nuances and all the pussified fuzzy math. It's not straight talk. That doesn't go with Dean's message.

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

One more argument to knock down: Dean is the only candidate running a strong campaign. Dean has been running, at least, since January 2003. Clark started in late September. He has garnered supporters, endorsements, and fundraising second only to Dean. He is in the top 1-2 in the national polls other than the Marist poll and is 1-2-3 in a the majority of the pre-March primary states.

Dean's campaign is exciting -- more so than the candidate, imo, but it went from 0 to 60 in 6 months; Clark has done it in 8 weeks. I think it's hard to lump Clark's campaign in with the morass along with Leiberman, Kerry and Edwards.

As an aside, I haven't counted Gephart out.

Posted by: JeffreyMaier at November 11, 2003 01:00 PM | PERMALINK

I worry a great deal about all the pro-Clark pushers of the "Dean Can't Win" meme.

First of all, if they're successful and Dean is defeated by the establishment, we'll see the enthusiasm of his supporters evaporate overnight. It's mystifying to me the distain that Dean's opponents have for the legions of Dean supporters out there getting involved in the political process.

More importantly, though, is that should Dean win the nomination, I worry that the establishment types will help fulfill their prophesy by turning on him the way the moderates turned on McGovern. The DLC / Josh Marshall / John Judis wing of the party seem to value being right over winning and I seriously worry they'd lead the charge to torpedo Dean to prove their own point even if that means handing the election to Bush.

Keep hammering this point if you think that's going to help your candidate, but just remember that McGovern wouldn't have been a 49 state loser if they moderates hadn't withheld their support. Only Kevin and his Clark buddies have the power to create another McGovern. I strikes me that's exactly what they're out to do.

Posted by: PaulDem at November 11, 2003 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

Right PaulDem. Maybe it's about time we start asking all these handwringing Clark supporters what Dean supporters were being hammered about over at Kos for months:

Will you support with your time, money, and vote, WHOEVER the Democratic nominee is against Bush in 2004?

Posted by: J from VJ at November 11, 2003 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

Rob: Your message is simple and direct -- and I like it, personally. Unfortunately, it's going to be followed up with an even simpler message: "He's going to raise your taxes", and then he's going to lose.

Posted by: scottd at November 11, 2003 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin--

I haven't scanned through all the comments to see if this point has already been made, but to have an opinion that Dean is unelectable at this point is hogwash. I think one can make a compelling case that Dean is either less or more electable than some other candidates, but unelectable? Come on, Kevin.

Posted by: Ben Brackley at November 11, 2003 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the biggest problem Dean faces is a regional cultural one. To non-partisan people in the south and the non-coastal west, many Northeasterners sound as though they are condescending. Dean's tin ear toward regional things as in Confederate flag/pickup flap doesn't help. I think he will have a really hard time reaching those people.

Posted by: Campesino at November 11, 2003 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

I happen to think Wes Clark is a better potential president than Howard Dean anyway, but electability is a key factor too. It's vitally important to get rid of George Bush and his insanely incompetent crew of ideologues before they do any more damage, and I don't think Dean can do it. Clark can.,/i>

Yes this must be why Clark has more campaign contributions right now then does Dean and why Clark's poll numbers are better then Deans....wait that's not right.

Here let me fix this for you Kevin.

I happen to think Dean is a better potential president than Clark anyway, but electability is a key factor too. It's vitally important to get rid of George Bush and his insanely incompetent crew of ideologues before they do any more damage, and I don't think Clark can do it. Dean can.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 11, 2003 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think that that is a factor when you remember that the last three Democratic presidents were Southerners.

Posted by: Campesino at November 11, 2003 01:13 PM | PERMALINK

A couple points.

1. The word "unelectable" is imprecise. Anyone who is on the ballot and garners a plurality of votes is "electable." The question is: can they win?

2. What happens to the economy and Iraq are of paramount importance, in part because these are the most interesting and therefore most-covered topics in the media.

3. Dean needs to be tough on the War on Terror, just as Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson needed to be tough on Communism in order to get elected. In some cases, this may require that Dean actually outflank Bush on the right. This may be hard to swallow for some of us, because there seems to be a race to the bottom that happens on national security.

4. Dean needs to get his shit together on taxes.

If he came out with a plan that:
a) Rescinded the Bush tax cuts as they now stand
b) Reformed and streamlined the tax code
c) Reinstated child tax credits and added some other progressive tax breaks
d) Did something about the goddam payroll tax that kicks my young ass every two weeks

...I think he'd be forgiven for the flip-flop.

5. Dean needs to lock up the labor vote. The best way to do this is to advance his health care agenda, and to tie it to job losses. In 2000, Bush somehow got 36% of the union vote. This needs to change.

6. There hasn't been a lot of elderly-scaring yet. While I think it's a shame that we have to cynically resort to this, it's brutally effective. Remember how they tried to change the value of a human life by valuing old people's lives less? We should remind elderly voters about that, as well as the various nefarious attempts to boot people off of Medicare.

7. The War on Pork. Since Dean ain't beholden to the big corporations, he can afford to put together a plan to reduce corporate welfare. This should help him a great deal with swing voters, libertarians, Muslims, and strict Kosher voters, all of whom hate pork.

Thoughts?

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew Yglesias has spoken, enough said...

You might not like it but the Harvard boy is right.

And what is it Republicans are always saying - "cry me a river dude."

Posted by: Cheryl at November 11, 2003 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not convinced that fighting for the moderate vote is worth it. Fewer and fewer voters seem to be undecided and persuadeable nowadays. Seems to me there are more votes to be had by motivating liberals who don't vote to register and get to the polls.

This I think Dean can do...and he'll also help hold some of the Greens who might otherwise defect to the left.

Conservatives win not because they get moderates, but because they have figured out how to energize their base. Here in Kentucky, turnout was highest in an off-year election since 1983, and most of those new voters went for Fletcher.

The base is where it's at.

That said, I'm a Clark man. And I think Diebold rigged Georgia, though I wasn't there and know nothing of the dynamics.

Posted by: R. Stanton Scott at November 11, 2003 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

There hasn't been a lot of elderly-scaring yet. While I think it's a shame that we have to cynically resort to this, it's brutally effective.

I don't even know what to say.

Posted by: Ron at November 11, 2003 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know who's 'electible' in 2004. Who woulda thought a drunkin fratboy, failed businessman, moron that couldn't complete a coherant sentence, awol from military service, yaddayadda woulda got (s)elected?

Your post is lousy because it fails to note that no matter who is selected by the dems will undergo a viscious partisan attack. Once we take that as a given, it will depend on who can fight back the best(and play offense, too) and who will have the money necessary to do so. So far, everyone says that Dean is a 'loser' yet his own opponents are so damn weak they can't touch him. How are they gonna be chimpco if they can't beat a gov from a tiny state that has so many OBVIOUS liabilities?

I'm ABB, but I want the strongest, best-funded, best organized, best tested, best all-around to face chimpco. I want a mean sob that can do offense and defense. If it's Dean, then it's Dean. If he wins it's both a reflection on the weaknesses of the other candidates as much as his strengths.

Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 01:21 PM | PERMALINK

If Clark is electable and Dean is not, why is Dean winning and Clark is not?

Tell me that logic again, and be sure to touch on the bredth of his support in the states where he has invested his time.

Clark is an unproven resume without a campaign manager and next to no money or organization and no experience in elected politics at all. He is not catching fire. He's a flop so far. So the answer is to attack our strongest candidate adn paint him a loser...with a "feeling" that he is not electable? Great, trash our only hope based on vague feelings. Paint him as a loser who can't win based on feelings of unelectability.

Instead of attacking Dean, why not put all you have behind Clark. If he wins, i will support him for sure. But to undermine our strongest candidate with a meme based on 'feelings' that can't be proven or disproven is insane and idiotic.

Posted by: obe at November 11, 2003 01:23 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody said way at the beginning that they were ABB, but that moderates were not. She is correct. I am a moderate Independent and the lack of foreign policy experience means I don't vote for Howard Dean, I learned my lesson with Bush. When the guy making the decision doesn't understand what he is being told, we wind up with a situation like Iraq.

Forget the incredibly dangerous situation in North Korea, does anybody believe that Howard Dean, Governor of Vermont understands military strategy and middle east politics, and delicate international negotiations. I don't and any thought I had of voting for him disappeared the other day when he something to the effect of "when people get in my face, I tend to get in theirs".

That would be helpful in getting North Korea to suspend its nuclear weapons development or bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the table. Not only do I not think he can beat Bush, I don't think he would be a very good President.

Posted by: Kimberly at November 11, 2003 01:26 PM | PERMALINK

"I think that the biggest problem Dean faces is a regional cultural one. To non-partisan people in the south and the non-coastal west, many Northeasterners sound as though they are condescending. "

Yup, that's it: what the Democratic party needs is to modify the primary schedule so that they ditch the early 'liberal' primary states and reschedule them so that the early primary states are AL, GA, TX, MS, SC, etc. That way we'd be sure to get a winner. Let the south pick 'one of their own'.

Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 01:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ron: Perhaps I phrased things indelicately.

We should explain to elderly voters why Democrats best represent their interests.

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

But they're going to unload no matter who the democratic nominee is Kevin. If that's the case than none of the dems are electable. So who has better electability numbers? Where are those polls?

P.S. Keep talking about the Plame Affair.

Posted by: daryl at November 11, 2003 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

Recent comments here and the New Yorker piece that Kevin linked yesterday have started to swing my thinking about Clark. Someone pointed out the hypocricy of my stance that Dean needed experience running a bigger state than Vermont, but Clark was ready to be Prez; that was indeed inconsistent and poorly thought-through. The NY article (whatever its other faults) contained this uncredited quote, that has the ring of truth to me and, as such, is really scary:

"But with Wes this became, as with everything else, the drama of ‘Will Wes’s moral rightness and brilliance be upheld and observed, or will it be thwarted?’ That became the nature of the drama, and if you were one of the people—notwithstanding having been dumb enough to give him the job—who were going to thwart his native brilliance, then you were going to get worked around and have five million other phone calls made, and it just got tiresome after a while."

If this is accurate, it's really scary.

I would really like to see some outside-the-military public service before entrusting the reins of state to Clark. As far as my fantasy of watching him beating Bush like a drum (no offense) in a debate goes, maybe the person he should really beat up on is Dick Cheney, in a Veep debate. Cheney, more than Dubya, seems to be the architect and driver behind the war. The tax cut fiasco and domestic mess, I'll drop squarely in Bush's lap, and maybe Dean is the one to open a can o' whoop-ass on him in that arena.

Having Clark on the ticket as VP would shore up Dean's weak spot on foreign policy experience, and being VP instead of Prez would give Clark some time in the halls of Executive power without having the sole authority for the fate of the Frewe World.

My only question about this otherwise tidy solution is, would Clark's ego allow him to accept the VP job under Dean? I would hope so; I would hope that his stated goals of effecting change in the country and continuing his career of public service in civilian clothes would trump that burnished ambition and the shame a perfectionist must feel at being handed a number two slot. But I don't know.

Posted by: ahpook at November 11, 2003 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

"It was that the right has been successful in convincing so many voters that this was something that was going to affect them"

You think so? They probably convinced a few, but I think the Democrats were out there doing a good job of saying that you had to have a million dollar (was that the figure?) estate... But then the Republicans hit back with the farmers, who can easily have million dollar estates. And people like farmers, and don't percieve them as rich.

So you had a bit of a problem. If someone were selfish and either rich or stupid, they could vote Republican in self interest. If they were altruistic, they could vote Republican to help farmers. And then there were a bunch of people that bought into it based on an idea of fairness, that the earnings had been taxed already. There is some argument for the latter two, and perhaps the threshhold could have been raised a bit (perhaps 3-5 million), but I think we're better off with some kind of estate or inheritance tax.

This one should be low hanging fruit for the next Democratic Congress, if it happens soon enough.

Posted by: Tom at November 11, 2003 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

133 posts and not one from Carol from CA??? did i miss something?

Posted by: sean at November 11, 2003 01:30 PM | PERMALINK

Scott: You may be right. But I think the only way you can honestly say that Bush has wrecked the nation's finances with his irresponsible tax cuts is to say that you're completely against them. It's a simple answer to a simple attack. When you have to spend 20 minutes trying to justify your targeted tax breaks, you've already lost the argument.

"Gay marriage" is Dean's biggest weakness IMHO (I'm from the South). "Raise taxes" is probably the second most effective attack I expect to see (no matter what position Dean espouses, he'll be attacked for it - which is why I prefer the simple, direct answer, even though I think some sort of reform policy is what will actually be required once elected). Where I differ with Kevin and the rest of the Clarkies is that I think "national security" is *not* going to be the dominant theme of the election, and if it is, then Dean wins in a landslide. Iraq is a big, big loser. Why do you think Kerry and Dean are talking about using the padded flightsuit footage and Bush says he won't?

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 01:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans (per DBL) prove the litigator's rule: no one understands the real strengths of your case more fully than your opponent.

Why not recognize that "electibility" is an illusory construct of 20/20 hindsight (hello, Mr. Truman), and save it for 11/3/04.

Step back for a moment, and absorb the facts.

Dean raised $7.5 million through small donations in the quarter ending 6/30. He doubled that sum in the quarter ending 9/30, again with small donations, and broke the fund-raising record previously held by Bill Clinton. Can I get you guys to agree that Clinton was electible?

Each of those 59,000 + 188,000 individual, small donations means something more important than a buck: ownership. We donors have taken on an individual responsibility -- more than one year before the election -- to defeat Bush and elect Howard Dean.

Ownership is a firm vote not for any Democrat, but specifically for Howard Dean. Ownership breeds excitement, which in turn prompts the t-shirt/button/bumper sticker/house rally sign/house-parties/canvass of neighbors/e-mailing of friends/chatting up of folks during vacations in key states that many of us have been engaged in for months now.

I acknowledge that people like Kevin may not support Dean. But don't deny that he has inspired many, many others, who constitute a growing, informed, and active core constituency. We are going to use every available dollar and hour to communicate our enthusiasm to other voters, encourage them to vote, and elect Howard Dean.

Let's also not forget the tremendous work being done by Move-On.org, newly-funded by Soros. Move-On, with its powerful issue advertisements and mailings to Congress, publicizing of Bushland deceits, and encouragement of direct voter participation in campaigns, will be a key component in Bush's defeat.

And do please stop swooning over Bush's campaign chest. Endless commercials won't win swing voters.
The Beatles had it right on the relationship between money and love.

Posted by: Julie Martin at November 11, 2003 01:32 PM | PERMALINK

praktile

I hope it was a matter of indelicate phrasing. I encourage debate on merits, and if the elderly feel they are better represented by the Dems then that means the Repubs need to do a little better.

But having seen stuff with Bush pushing elderly persons in wheelchairs over the edge, I don't think the Dem record is entirely clean.

Posted by: Ron at November 11, 2003 01:32 PM | PERMALINK

I firmly believe that Bush can only be defeated by a United Front next fall.

I really don't see a 1972 fracture on the horizon here. Look, the DLC and the other inside-the-beltway types ARE NOT a constituency. They don't count at all. Insiders, by their very nature, will rally around a winner, or they will be left behind. In 1972, McGovern lost many of the unions; now those boys and girls are a constituency. They are voters and campaign workers. Those are the types of people you don't want to lose. So far, the only two people who have wrapped up any type of constituency are Gephardt (with old-style labor unions) and Dean (with certain demographics of grass-roots activists, service sector unions, GLBT, and a few others). I'm pretty sure the old-style unions won't abandon Dean for Bush, and the constituencies Dean has wrapped up are pretty committed to the ABB cause.

The DLC can write their position papers all they want; won't make a bit of difference. They can hop on board or be left on the curb.

Posted by: BriVT at November 11, 2003 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to hazard a guess... the people who are now claiming that Dean is like McGovern usually agree that Dean really *isn't all that liberal* BUT they argue that Dean will be the easiest to paint as all that liberal. And they are scared of the Big Bad Rove.

The reason they think this? Because their first impression of Dean was that he was all that liberal. They were deluded and bought the media's initial talking point. Now, they reason, if *they* (insert huge ego here) were deluded... surely the poor befuddled masses without their superior insider knowledge will be. The truth? They uncritically bought the bogus line while the public is not. Suckers.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 11, 2003 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

The election is President Bush's to lose and not the Democratic candidate's to win. And my prediction is that barring a major turn around in Iraq, he's lost it already.

Posted by: Bernie Simon at November 11, 2003 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think most of the Democrats (obvious exceptions: Kucinich, Sharpton, and Moseley Braun) electability depends on Bush. To simplify Lisa's point even further, if the economy and Iraq are in bad shape, Bush is toast, if both are in good shape he coasts to reelection, if its one out of two, then we have a 2000-like close call.

It is only if we are in that third category, that who the Democratic nominee is will make a big difference. I don't think Dean has been revealed to be any more or less electable than Clark or the others at this stage. His fundraising is a plus as is his record as a governor. His arrogance at times is a minus as is lack of foreign policy experience. The entire field has flaws though. If Dean can survive being attacked for the next two months, and emerge stronger as a result, then he will indeed be electable.

Posted by: Stuart at November 11, 2003 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

Sean: SHHHHHHHH! Don't wake it.

Posted by: chris at November 11, 2003 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

One critical thing Dean supporters seem to ignore is that the GOP/Rove A material hasn't been unleashed on Dean yet. They've dumped their load on Clark because most of what they have is geared to turn of the Dem base, but they could be sitting on a war chest of attack material for a showdown with Dean. Remember (and you can't deny this), Dean is the one they want to meet in '04. If you think they don't have anything on the Dr., remember none of us who are supporting Clark knew about that videotape of the General's speech at a Republican fundraiser...

Posted by: Kevin K. at November 11, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

Dean may indeed be unelectable, but I'll be darned if I can figure out the issue that will take him down. ... Civil unions? Even Wal-Mart has protection for sexual orientation

But it won't be framed that way. It will be framed as "Dean supported gay marriages." Therefore, "Dean is a wild-eyed liberal."

That will KILL him in the swing midwest and near-south states that are crucial to beating Bush. This is also the key to understanding the DLC's trepidation with Dean, since those folks tend to think very strategically.

Think of how the media already portrays him as a liberal, just for opposing the Bushwad. Dean is anything but a liberal, but the rest of the country will never know that.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The term "unelectable" is just the DLC's nice way of saying that Dean will lose over the civil union issue. Yes, I know other candidates support them, also, but they weren't governors of the state that actually implemented them. That is Dean's unique vulnerability.

Yes, I really do think the electorate is that shallow, and that easily distracted.

Posted by: Brautigan at November 11, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's vitally important to get rid of George Bush and his insanely incompetent crew of ideologues before they do any more damage, and I don't think Dean can do it. Clark can.

why?

Posted by: officerblog at November 11, 2003 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, agreed.

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is unelectable because he is a hot-headed left wing extremist, simple as that.

The last hot-headed extremist to be nominated...Barry Goldwater, got creamed for the same reason.

People like their Presidents reasonable. And for all you left wing extremists who don't think Bush is reasonable, take your blinders off...the rest of the country does, even if they disagree with him.

It's gonna be a hell of a comedown if Dean gets nominated and the election is a blowout. What will all the Deanies do with themselves?

Posted by: sickles at November 11, 2003 01:45 PM | PERMALINK

Here's my beef with the whole "electability" thing: it appears to be based purely on the question of resume rather than actual political ability. Dean, on paper, may look like an easier target thand Clark, on paper. But that only tells part of the story. If you focus on just where the candidates are vulnerable to attack you miss the bigger picture of HOW THEY RESPOND WHEN THEY ARE ATTACKED!

I've been saying for months that resumes are just pieces of paper, they have NO predictive value when it comes to electoral success (otherwise Bush would have been laughed out of the voting booth). Give me a strong campaigner over a strong resume any day.

So far Dean has proven himself to be a strong campaigner. Clark has been iffy at best on this front (Gephardt is actually better at campaigning than Clark) and Clark has yet to REALLY bet tested under fire. Dean has had to deal with multiple HARD attacks on him and each and every time he has come out of the attacks stronger than when he went in.

THAT to me is the surest sign of a winning candidate.

Democrats have GOT to stop playing defense all the time. It just makes them look like wimps and wimps never win.

If Clark's candidacy is based primarily on the "he can't be attacked on this, this, and that" than he WON'T be able to deal with it when he inevitably IS attacked on "this, this, and that". It is naive in the extreme to think that ANY Democrat can be made immune from those attacks.

Posted by: Chris Andersen at November 11, 2003 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll tell you, if you think Dean is a big threat, the best way to stop him is to rally around one of the other candidates ASAP and talk people into supporting him. We've heard the McGovern/unelectable arguments many times now. An argument for Clark over Gephardt, Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman will do more to stop Dean than anything else."

You're totally correct, Katherine. One of the reason Dean is on such a clear track to the nomination is there isn't *one* candidate around whom the opposition to him coalesces.

It might've been Clark, but he hasn't put his message on a solid footing.

It still might be Gephardt, if he wins Iowa.

You're correct that we should figure out who it is and get behind that person very soon if we want any chance of a different nominee.

I'm going to suggest something utterly impractical -- but nevertheless the right choice. We should get be hind Lieberman. On the war issue, he's the only one acting like a real wartime leader.

We have this discussion going on among leading politicians in both parties -- something really emerging and intensifying over the last week or two. Namely, we have guys like McCain, Hagel, Lugar, and Biden protesting the apparent intentions of the Bush team to draw down our forces over the coming months and to pursue an "Iraqification" strategy that transfers the fighting to the Iraqi police and soldiers we're hastily training.

Lieberman is consistent on Iraq, with a strong commitment to winning and a forward-looking strategy. And he's the only one who seems openly willing to challenge Bush on this emerging "Iraqification" issue -- to tell people we can't "cut and run" and that we need to bear the burden and do what it takes to succeed.

Lieberman would stake out a position that's to the right of Bush in terms of commitment to victory in Iraq, but to the left in terms of pursuing an internationally engaged policy. He's the one who can do it the clearest -- who hasn't fumbled over his statements or votes, who hasn't opposed reconstruction funds, and who now recognizes the emerging danger of an insufficient commitment to succeed over there.

It's the right thing to do because he's the right person, right now, to do the right thing in the war.

Makes for a weird campagin, obviously. Certainly troubles the anti-war segment of the party. And yet it's still the right choice.

Posted by: William Swann at November 11, 2003 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

J Mann...

I agree that a Dean-Clark (probably in that order) ticket is very formidable, which might be why Clark hasn't been going for Dean's blood in the way that most of the other Dems have.

Well this statement should make Josh, Judis and Kevin all happy as a claim.

I remember that Josh got so mad after Dean said that he would consider Clark as VP.

I think you may be on to something there J Mann.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 11, 2003 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

What on earth about Wes Clark's campaign so far has demonstrated he'd be able to respond to those attack ads?

Clark hasn't really shown any campaign skills. Dean has.

The McGovern thing is a horrible comparision, of course; the Democratic party split apart at the seams that year.

Posted by: Jason McCullough at November 11, 2003 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

William-

The problem with Lieberman is:

1. The Holy Joe mentality is anathema to myself and to so many other Democrats. He scores a mere 40% with the ACLU.

2. Liberals don't believe that Holy Joe is at all capable of resolving the Middle East Peace crisis, because of his pro-Sharon bias.

Throw in his neocon fantasies, and that's it in a nutshell.

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a major difference between Dean and McGovern:

VIETNAM WAS A DEMOCRAT WAR

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if Dean is 'unelectable', but I think he does start with some serious deficits (regionalism being the most significant).

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that Clark has much more appeal to independents & Republicans. There's also the wild card of the military vote (see the recent Washington Monthly article); if Bush support has softened in the armed services, Clark would be the most likely able to bring some of them over to the Democrats.

Clark has been pounded by his opponents for not being a lifelong diehard Democrat, but what they don't seem to grasp is that being a loyal Democrat is not exactly a positive thing in the general...and conversely, an appearance of relative non-partisanship could be an enormous plus.

It's all speculation though. I like Clark because he's smart and pragmatic, in addition to having sensible positions on the issues (as do all the candidates except Lieberman).

Posted by: Tom Hilton at November 11, 2003 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

"This is also the key to understanding the DLC's trepidation with Dean, since those folks tend to think very strategically."

The DLC(and this isn't coming from a DLC basher) may think strategically, but they are also reactionary to the core. The essence of the DLC is to take polls for current voter attitudes, assign a new 'important' demographic du-jour, and then move toward the 'target' demographic with policy. If the policy conflicts with what are traditional Democratic dogma, they find a historical precedent to stretch to make their point.

The DLC does nothing to grow the size of the party or move public opinion. Remember that the DLC was founded mainly because 'northern liberals' embarassed the hell outta southern Dems when they ran for office. Funny, but today the conservative southern dems are STILL embarassed by northern Liberals...it's just that the northern 'liberal' scourge is no longer McGovern but is now Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle. (centrists to the core, IMO)

Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

His arrogance at times is as minus is as lack of foreign policy experience.

What evidence do you have besides pundit talking points that Dean is arrogant? I actually wish Dean were a little more arrogant and confident in debates. Just because he is a straight talker, he is arrogant?

What evidence do you have that presidents are incapable of conducting effective foriegn policy just because they werent a general before coming into office? Look, Dean has good judgement and instincts. He was one of the 1st candidates to see this war was fradulent from the get-go.

Do you know why Bush is having so much trouble with al queda and the war in iraq? because bush coddled the saudis and rushed into war for political reasons. first of all, Dean has no saudi oil interests that would prevent him from fighting middle east terrorists. second of all dean has expressed that he wont underfund homeland security interests like port and border security.
3rd. the rest of foriegn policy issues-- N. korea, iran, the isralies/palestinian issue,etc are not issues that need to be microminaged by a 'seasoned foreign policy expert president'. basically you elect a president who has good judgement and instincts, see if he surrounds himself with a good foreign policy team, and let the rest take care of itself.

Dean will do just fine with foriegn policy.

Posted by: dee at November 11, 2003 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

I know Bush will have $200 mil or so, but (1) Dean may not be far behind and (2) is Bush going to have anything positive he can campaign on? Assuming the 3rd-quarter GDP growth turns out to be a blip (probable, according to economists I've read) and Iraq continues to be a disaster (damn near certain), what is Bush going to be able to say in his campaign commercials that even the (admittedly stupid) American people can't see through? If he's looking at 3 million jobs lost during his term, a big budget surplus turned into a world-record $500 billion deficit, and a war built on lies that has become an obscenely expensive bloodbath, I think Bush is going down whoever the candidate is. Al Gore was a horrible candidate and he beat Bush, albeit not by enough to make the election non-stealable. Dean is a much more exciting candidate than Gore, and the roughly 50% approval ratings (and lower reelect numbers) that Bush is getting now could well be down in the 30's a year from now. If that's the case, Bush is going down, no matter how much money he has and despite some people having misgivings about Dean on a few issues.

To believe that Dean is "unelectable" you have to believe that it's impossible that Dean could get Gore's states (including Florida). I don't know how you can rationally conclude that. Indeed, I think Dean could well get all of the Gore states plus, for example, Ohio, New Hampshire, Arizona, and West Virginia.

Posted by: Frederick at November 11, 2003 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

Last time I checked, Clark has been attacked on a lot of "this and that." And for a politcal novice he's holding up pretty well and he'll only get better as time goes on.

And, really, it's a little hypocritcal to get down on Kevin and Josh for "Dean-bashing" when I've seen plenty of anti-Clark stuff posted on Kos' site. If Kevin's expected to back off of Dean, then Kos should do the same.

Posted by: Kevin K. at November 11, 2003 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Kos should do the same and back off of Clark."

Posted by: Kevin K. at November 11, 2003 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

btw, rumor of Clark's demise are definitely exaggerated. He's expecting to have raised 10 mil by the end of Q4:

http://www.katv.com/news/stories/1103/109713.html

What I see is Dean in the North vs. Clark in the South. I wonder whether they've made some sort of deal not to bloddy each other up?

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming a competent campaign with Dean, I am perfectly happy putting him up as a national referendum on which way this nation should go.

Dean is no leftist, and if the nation rejects him for the serial lifelong failure currently occupying the oval office then we, as a nation, simply deserve the consequences. We need the senate and house back for real resurgence, btw.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 02:20 PM | PERMALINK

bloody

Posted by: praktike at November 11, 2003 02:21 PM | PERMALINK

From my perspective as a right-wing Bush supporter, I don't really think it makes much difference who the Dem's candidate will be. The election will be a referendum on Bush's performance in the war on terrorism - do people think the war is going well or not? If the answer is yes, Bush will win, no matter who the Dems candidate is. If the answer is no, the Dem will win unless they nominate a Barry Goldwater-like extremist. I doubt that Dean is that person.

Nevertheless, I hope Dean is nominated. Because those anti-Dean ads will SURE BE FUN!

Posted by: Al at November 11, 2003 02:24 PM | PERMALINK

Oh what a tangled web we weave.
When we take money to deceive.

Too much money in politics. Waaaaay too much.

Yeah I know - news to all of you. Sorry, it always hits me when that $200 mega-number is thrown out there. Clinton "only" spent $70 in 1996.

Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at November 11, 2003 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

K.D.: And think about what the ads are going to look like, especially to moderates who aren't true believers in the Dean phenomenon already. (Go ahead: use your imagination. And try to be brutally realistic.)

Funny, the ads I worry about remind me of Dukakis in a tank. And I have a much easier time picturing Kerry or Gephardt in those ads than Dean (sorry, just being brutally honest).

The "liberal" image that Democrats have to fear is not that of Dean providing health care in Vermont. Nor is it civil unions, which I am quite confident that Dean can explain to his benefit. No, I am afraid that the liberal image that Dems have to fear is of being weak, pandering to special interests, and generally being a weenie.

And who is more weak? Dean, who took a principled stance at a time when war critics were being labelled traitors, or Kerry and Gephardt, who are now critical of Bush depsite handing him a blank check and knowing he had no interest in either the U.N. or nation-building? They look like hypocritical weenies who got played.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, any serious discussion of electability demands that Dean's critics explain why governors overwhemingly win presidential races and legislators consistantly lose. Unless you can intelligently explain why Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, or Lieberman should be able to defy the great weight of historical precedent, I would advise against slamming the guy with the most money, supporters, enthusiasm, and executive experience.

Posted by: space at November 11, 2003 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnut pundits have hammered Clark nonstop since he jumped in the race, but they rarely attack Dean. This is not a coincidence. It's pretty clear who Rove wants to run against.

Posted by: zippy at November 11, 2003 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

Carter wanted to run against Reagan. Your point?

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 02:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rob Mac K - Have you heard about the newspaper ads from Human Rights Campaign? Just yesterday they announced they're placing an ad in the Boston Globe, showing two elderly women sitting on a park bench and holding hands, with the title: Why Are "Pro-Family" Groups Attacking This Devoted Couple? What I'm wondering is if you think this ad would sway anyone in the south. (For anyone who's interested, they're raising money to place more ads, but I don't know where they're planning on placing them.)

Posted by: Theresa in Oakland at November 11, 2003 02:37 PM | PERMALINK

Dean = unelectable is complete retarded. And Kevin, when you get all worried about how Bush will attack him next year... oh brother. Maybe the Dems ought to just give Bush what he wants on Iraq so we can move on to the economy, eh? Oh wait, the economy seems to be picking up some steam so maybe the Dems should give Bush what he wants on the economy and move on to Protocol. Yes, that's right, Protocol. The American electorate is fed up with the Bush Administration's abuse of Protocol. Not calling on Helen for his "press conference", which completely went against tradition... Outrageous! That's the winning issue right there.

See, what's going to happen is that Dean's going to have something of a war chest himself and he's going to be taking a few cracks at Boy Wonder as well and Dr. Dean has a wicked right cross let me tell you. Dean is playing to win, which is a lot more than I can say for Clark or Kerry. Gephardt is playing to win as well, but he's outmatched. And someone needs to tell Leiberman that nobody really cares.

Posted by: Chibi at November 11, 2003 02:40 PM | PERMALINK

space - re: "the great weight of historical precedent"

The last legislator to be elected to the White House was also the last New Englander to be elected to the White House. That was 40 years ago. So it cuts both ways.

Posted by: apostropher at November 11, 2003 02:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnut pundits have hammered Clark nonstop since he jumped in the race, but they rarely attack Dean. This is not a coincidence. It's pretty clear who Rove wants to run against.

#1: The wingnuts started the McGovern connection.

#2: Rove & Co. can be wrong (see Operation Codpiece).

I don't disagree that Rove would prefer Clark to Dean. But when was the last time they laid into Gephardt or Kerry? I remember some spin about Kerry's back when he appeared to be the front runner but that's it.

Posted by: space at November 11, 2003 02:44 PM | PERMALINK

so.. why does anyone think Bush's $200M will do any good at all? he lost the last popular despite his opponent's running an uninspired campaign and a similar fundraising advantage, and has screwed up the US sufficiently the last three years that a lot of people are noticing. plus, he pretty much broke his campaign promise to be a uniter, and applying the adjective 'compassionate' to his conservatism is going to be a very hard sell.

I've predicted it before, and shall again here: against an anonymous Democrat running a decent but uninspired campaign, Bush is a 5%-margin loser unless miracles happen in Iraq, the job market *and* her personally captures Osama in a dramatic chase caught by video surveillance cameras in the Mall of America.

Bush is a loser; almost any reasonable candidate is electable against him. Kevin Drum, say.

stop worrying about which candidate the voters pick, and start making sure *all* your friends turn out to vote next fall, and their friends, and their friends' friends. that should do it.

and feel free to save this prediction to rub in my face in the distant even Bush does not lose by 5%+.

but he will.

no matter the Democratic candidate.

Posted by: wcw at November 11, 2003 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I'm coming to very different conclusions than I did a year or even six months ago. There's the man, and then there's the campaign.

Judging by the man alone, I'd guess that Dean is less electable than Clark or maybe even some of the other Democrats (but this assessment could be skewed by the fact that, as a person and a potential President, I like Clark more: see also Matthew Yglesias's musings on the topic of how perceptions of electability are formed). Dean's relative lead in the national polls could be deceiving, since his appeal is likely to be concentrated in fewer states, giving it less electoral impact. It's hard to imagine Dean picking up any Bush 2000 states in the South. Maybe in the intermountain West, but I'd say that's doubtful too.

But the campaign is something else. Dean has by far the best campaign organization of anyone in the race, possibly the best of any Democratic presidential candidate in history. He's got the money; he's got the volunteers; he's got the cheering section, to a far greater degree than anyone else out there. This is important, since the polarization of the electorate means that this is likely to be more a turn-out race in polarized swing states than a grab for the hearts of swing voters.

The money alone could easily make up for some of his personal faults. If Bush is going to spend a bundle attacking him, Dean can spend a bundle right back to get Democrats out on the streets and in the booths, and none of the other candidates can say the same thing.

Finally, maybe we ought to be looking at more than the 2004 Presidential race. I appreciate the strategic value of warning of imminent apocalypse if Bush is reelected-- I've gone to these dark places in my own head more than once-- but a large part of the reason Bush is such a danger to the country is that the rest of the government is so supine. He could well win next fall. My own scientific wild-ass guess is that it's better than even odds he will. Suppose Bush does win. What are we gonna do, fight a civil war? No, we'll need to start looking at the bigger picture. Democrats have been losing power in Congress and in state and local races for a long time now (Yglesias wrote about that recently too), and a lot of that has simply been because of a lack of energy on the American left, a feeling that the ideological fight isn't worth it, which means fewer qualified candidates. Heaven knows I'm no wild-eyed lefty, but I'd love to see some liberal fire come back, and the Dean organization is the best current candidate I can see to supply it.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin at November 11, 2003 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

The last legislator to be elected to the White House was also the last New Englander to be elected to the White House. That was 40 years ago. So it cuts both ways.

I don't dispute that. But that is because both parties have been battling over the South for thirty years That fight should be over. The Democrats no longer need the South to win. Indeed, the reverse is true. The Republicans may increasingly need to nominate a non-Red State candidate (at least to the VP slot) to get enough electoral votes to win the White House.

Posted by: space at November 11, 2003 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how effective it would be, but it would have to help *somewhat*. I do think enforcing the cognitive dissonace is the best way to attack on this issue over the long run, but for right now...

I really don't know if there's any good way to win on that point for Democrats. My wife is from a much more rural background than I am (genuine farmer's daughter), and she thinks that the words "fags" and "marry" spoken in the same sentence are instant death for any Democrat (not just Dean) in most of the deep South. All the GOP has to do is mention it and that's that. Overt rascism isn't encouraged except in the most backwoods places, but it's still socially acceptable to be a homophobe just about everywhere.

Your mileage may vary, of course. That's just what I've gathered from growing up in rural NC, marrying a girl from rural Georgia, and living in Florida (the latter being much more progressive, but I live in the city, not the sticks, and Florida is just a weird place) for the last ten years.

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't disagree that Rove would prefer Clark to Dean. But when was the last time they laid into Gephardt or Kerry?"

They don't have to "lay into" Kerry. The press'll do it for 'em... didn't you read the pieces in the paper today about Kerry munching away on his dinner during this emotional conference call with staffers about the Jordan firing? Classic.

Posted by: Al at November 11, 2003 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

The war is a wash (people in these threads have no idea how wildly inspired Repugs are by the idealism of Bush's foreign policy -- and how terrified they are of talk about ceding sovereignty to international elites). But Dean is dead on taxes. Just dead. It's been the nuclear weapon of the Right for 20 years, and if a certain silver-spoon Vermonter gets the nod, taxes will seal the race for GWB. Kerry has a saleable tax message. Dean has committed himself on the issue to such an extent that he can't adopt Kerry's position.

Posted by: rbot at November 11, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

Matt: You've got it. The top three issues in 2004 are 1) turnout, 2) turnout, and 3) turnout.

Bush is planning on spending a substantial portion of his $200 million on a GOTV effort. We're going to have to do the same thing, except with volunteers instead of Bush's paid hacks. That alone may be why Dean is the most electable Democrat - he energizes his supporters unlike anyone in decades, and there are a buttload of them.

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

My wife is from a much more rural background than I am (genuine farmer's daughter), and she thinks that the words "fags" and "marry" spoken in the same sentence are instant death for any Democrat (not just Dean) in most of the deep South.

Dean is toast in the deep South. But a candidate can win without the Deep South. For example, win all the states Gore won, including Florida. And as I said above, I think Dean could well get all of those states plus, for example, Ohio, New Hampshire, Arizona, and West Virginia.

Posted by: Frederick at November 11, 2003 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

"... he {Dean} can be pro-gun, moderate on abortion rights,..."

Yeah, right. First, since the signing of the partial birth abortion ban, the pro-life vote has been lost to the Democratic candidates short of their adopting positions that would cause their own supporters to frag them. If there's one constituency that's actually happy with Bush, that's it. And partial birth abortion is just too gruesome to successfully paint the ban as extremist.

As for Dean being pro-gun, that's a joke. To qualify as even marginally pro-gun, you have to be willing to say that some jurisdiction, SOMEWHERE, has gone too far, and imposed laws that ought to be repealed or struck down. Dean's "I don't personally favor any gun control except that ban that cost my party control of Congress, but as far as I'm concerned the states and cities can go hog wild." stance puts him well into the anti-gun catagory, as the NRA will be sure to inform voters.

The one bright light on the subject of gun control for the Democrats is that Bush isn't pro-gun, either. He's been laying low about it ever since Rove managed to beat into his head that it was hurting him, but if the Democratic nominee can remind gun owners that Bush isn't any better than them, the issue would be neutralized.

In fact, I'll tell you how to do it: The Bush administration has been systematically sabotoging the armed pilots program, which program passed with a massive bipartisan majority, (Even Schumer voted for it, as hard as that is to believe.) and has apple pie and motherhood levels of public support. Dean, or whoever secures the nomination, can nail Bush on that, making him look bad to gun owners, and lousy on anti-terrorism to just about everyone, without having to be more pro-gun than Diane Feinstein. How's that for an oportunity?

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 11, 2003 03:02 PM | PERMALINK

"The top three issues in 2004 are 1) turnout, 2) turnout, and 3) turnout."

Yup. We've got to remember that policy junkies like ourselves represent only a tiny fraction of the electorate. Most folks just go out and yank the lever for the guy that they are most comfortable with on a visceral level. They don't invest months in comparing and contrasting the specific policy positions of the candidates.

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 03:08 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/11/11/national1532EST0605.DTL

2 quit Kerry campaign.....

Posted by: peter jung at November 11, 2003 03:09 PM | PERMALINK

Frederick - I agree about the South. I don't think any Dem can win any of them (well, maybe TN/AK). NC,SC,GA,AL,MS,LA, and TX are going to go for Bush, even if we ran Jesus Christ himself. Jeb will probably steal Florida again, but I think we may be able to win it by enough to keep him from doing so - and it's where I live, so I have to do *something*.

Any of the Dems (well, Dean and Clark, and I suppose theoretically Kerry/Edwards/Gep) can win enough of the West, Midwest, and North to win without any of the "deep" South. It just takes the Gore states and one or two more. WV, NH, OH, TN, AK, and VA are all states that went for Dubya last time that could go for any of the Dems this time. (Conversely, there are a few Gore states that could go for Shrub this time, but I don't really think so. I think we have the advantage in the swing states.)

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 03:09 PM | PERMALINK

The election will be a referendum on Bush's performance in the war on terrorism

given he has the worst record on this than any previous president, methinks you should find another talking point, Al.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 03:10 PM | PERMALINK

Arkansas is AR, not AK, isn't it? Time to go home....

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 11, 2003 03:11 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with "turnout, turnout, turnout", is that, to be frank, the Republicans have got more head room for boosting their turnout in a meaningful way. (Getting more people to show up to vote in California doesn't win you anything except an excuse to whine when you lose in the Electoral College.) Most of the close states in 2000 were only close because high Democratic turnouts in the cities managed to compensate for losing everywhere else. If the turnout in counties Bush carried had been comparable to that in the "blue" counties, it would have been a rout.

That's why Gore won the (meaningless) popular vote, while Democrats lost so badly down the ticket. You're already getting an impressive turnout in the areas you carry.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 11, 2003 03:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnut pundits have hammered Clark nonstop since he jumped in the race, but they rarely attack Dean. This is not a coincidence. It's pretty clear who Rove wants to run against.

Exactly. The viability of a Democratic candidate can be gauged by the intensity of the Republican smear campaign.

Posted by: Tom Hilton at November 11, 2003 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Dean unelectable? Because he is not likeable. And likeability means a tremendous amount in presidential elections.

I swear, he looks and acts like the husband from hell. Women are not going to warm to this guy. He's too angry, too egotistical, and too arrogant to correct his growing list of misstatements. And no amount of web enthusiasts sending in their $20 donations is going to change that.

Posted by: kimster at November 11, 2003 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

If Dean gets the nomination, I will almost certainly vote for him. If anyone else gets the nomination, I will likely vote for a third-party candidate.

Of course, I'm just one voter, so what I think has virtually no bearing on a candidate's electability.

Posted by: Qoheleth at November 11, 2003 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

There's one criticism Judis threw in that I don't understand. She complains that Bush "artificially stimulated" the economy. What is that exactly? If you are going to grant Bush credit for stimulating the economy through tax cuts (as opposed to the natural business cycle), is that a bad thing?

Anyhow, if Dean wins the nomination, expect him to make a sharp move to the center. He's pretty much a moderate, considering his stances on gun control and the like. So it won't be too difficult for him to be taken seriously in the general election.

Posted by: Staunch Moderate at November 11, 2003 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

Brett Bellmore is right. Don't forget: everyone talks about Florida, and there were a few other close Bush victories (NH), but a lot more of the states with razor-thin went for Gore -- Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin were all exceptionally close.

Posted by: Crank at November 11, 2003 03:32 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly. The viability of a Democratic candidate can be gauged by the intensity of the Republican smear campaign.

Because the GOP is comprised of omnipotent Gods whose political acumen is unquestionable?

Yeah, okay. That explains Bush's carrier landing. That and the mess in Iraq are just part of his perfect plan.

For the love of Pete, guys...Bush isn't God and Rove isn't Machievelli's older, more accomplished brother!

We lose races because we've bought into the infallibility of the GOP. We act like the GOP is always right. They'll frame the issues, not us. They know what's weak, what's strong, not us.

They make all the decisions. We just react!

No wonder we lose.

Posted by: Morat at November 11, 2003 03:37 PM | PERMALINK

If Dean or Clark gets the nomination, I will vote for Bush. I will donate money to Bush's campaign and volunteer for it.

If, however, Gephardt or Edwards gets the nomination, I will vote for either one. Not sure about Lieberman.

Unlike many here, I do not believe that the Bush presidency has been a catastrophe. I am sick and tired of the hysteria and constant stream of invective coming from the Democratic party. When the Republicans did it during Clinton's presidency, I felt alienated. Now that "my side" is doing it, I feel just as alienated.

These constant attacks on Bush are undignified and immature. If only one of the Democrats would run an issues-oriented campaign, it would be really nice. Unfortuantley, the leftist primary voters want nothing to do with that, so we get the nauseating and emotional refrain of "Bush lied," "the Republicans want to repeal the New Deal," and "that incompetent chimp and his crew of crony capitalists are miserable failures."

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 11, 2003 03:38 PM | PERMALINK

OK, everyone, let's keep our eyes on the ball wrt Kevin's analysis.

Kevin asserts Dean is unelectable. He has no supporting evidence. (Kevin: "Dean is polling as well or better than other Democratic candidates in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against Bush....")

So Kevin says, well, IGNORE the evidence, and use your imagination! Just IMAGINE what will happen in the future!

OK, so, that's pretty lame, but let's take it on his own terms.

Now in Kevin's imagination, the attack ads on Dean are devastating. Of course, Kevin does not support Dean, so it's hardly surprising that he can call to mind images of devastating attack ads on Dean. So Kevin is not really working his imagination very hard.

Because when Kevin tries to imagine devastating attack ads on Clark, he comes up with the empty thought bubble.

I assure you, Karl Rove has a livelier imagination on this topic than Kevin has.

Since no candidate is innoculated against ugly attacks, the question is, who is better-equipped to respond to ugly political attacks?

I think it's the guy who ran for governor five times, not the guy with no experience whatsoever in political campaigns.

Posted by: social democrat at November 11, 2003 03:43 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, here's two reasons to not vote for Bush:

Miguel Estrada
Janice Rogers Brown

you're such an entertaining tool, btw.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 03:44 PM | PERMALINK

Dean/Clark and Clark/Dean are both unbeatable, I think. You need Dean and his campaign. NEED! Don't believe me. Consider this: what if Dean doesn't get it and ran as an independant. OK, I've been -assured- he'd never do it, it's a thought experiment.

See all the Dean voters going with him? Dean has earned his seat. Earned is earned. If having him there is a risk... democracy is a risk. Having a system where Dean can run is a risk, if it's fixed so he couldn't win... it's a fraud, so, this is a risk and reward scenario.

You need his campaign. I'd say that Clark/Dean was better but fact is, Dean is doing better at debate and communication, so he probably should have the top spot. If you see the two as a Domestic/Foriegn expert split (crude but close enough for the way the electorate simplifies things), then having Dean on top is "it's the economy stupid", while setting up a Modern Two Man Presidency where the VP handles a lot of foriegn policy issues.

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 03:46 PM | PERMALINK

Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin were all exceptionally close

but not so much if you count out the Nader swing.

here, imo, are the in-play states, with Gore/Nader split:

Maine 54%
Washington 54%
Michigan 53%
Minnesota 53%
Pennsylvania 53%
New Mexico 52%
Oregon 52%
Wisconsin 52%
Florida 51%
Iowa 51%
New Hampshire 51%
Missouri 49%
Ohio 49%
Tennessee 49%
Arizona 48%
Nevada 48%
West Virginia 48%
Arkansas 47%
Colorado 47%
Virginia 47%
Louisiana 46%

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 03:48 PM | PERMALINK

Dean/Clark, Clark/Dean -- it's all good.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 03:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's not "emotional" at all. It's a simple fact BUSH LIED.

Sren't you nauseatedZ? Of course not. You're a Republican. You'd gobble Dubbya's vomit and beg for seconds.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at November 11, 2003 03:53 PM | PERMALINK

I worry about Dean's electability based on his temperament, appearing hostile on television and around journalists in particular. I think, actually, the key will be that he gets good at using the tough/angry side effectively and avoiding it at other times. Get hit with a tough question on domestic policy in a debate? Respond in an agreeable, civil way & show people you're a nice guy. Stick to a positive message. I think this might be hard to pull off & hope the campaign gets it right.

But as far as national security goes, if Dean channels that sort of righteous anger and tough attitude at the perfect moment - such as when folks try calling into question his strength on defense/security issues - I think he'd do better on this issue than any other Democratic candidate actually. Let Rove try and portray Dean as a wimpy Democrat.

As far as the tax policy.. hmm. There has to be a way to deal with that, and I don't doubt one will be thought of - such as - saying you'll keep certain middle-class tax cuts because they weren't Bush's tax cuts anyway, or proposing an alternative, fair tax plan that retains specific tax breaks.

Joe, dude, you'd vote for Gephardt, the guy who STARTED saying "miserable failure"? Well, actually, to me you sound oddly stilted, like the mouthpiece of a demographic group invented by a political strategist. "When party X does this, I feel alienated; when party Y does that, I feel alientated; vote Edwards!"

Posted by: daria g at November 11, 2003 03:59 PM | PERMALINK

I think people overlook the fact that Dean is such a polarizing figure. While he has a large camp in relation to any specific candidate, he still only receives 16% of the vote (last I saw). I see this going to a brokered convention where Dean could have a plurality of the votes with the majority split over other candidates. Dean has definitely not set himself up to be uniter of the party if this happens.
-Jonathan

Posted by: Jonathan at November 11, 2003 04:05 PM | PERMALINK

Don't assume that simply becuase Clark is a general, he is certain to win any debate on national security policy. Neither Bush nor Cheney, nor any other Republican candidate, is recoil in horror before Clark's stars.

Let's say that Bush debates Clark on national security. First, he is going to be very well prepared for the debate. I realize that Bush is not an outstanding debater, but he'll bone up for this one like crazy. He'll have the finest political minds coaching him for months in advance. Moreover, Bush has been dealing with national security issues every single day for the past four years. He's fully conversant with the issues. Given all of this, it's extremly unlikely that Clark will wipe the floor with Bush. If he's debating Cheney, or Rice, his job will be even harder.

Second, and this is by far the most important point, Clark's theories on national security can be defeated on their merits. Not everyone is going to agree with them. For example, I have heard Clark speak on national security, and I am not impressed. He seems to be mired in a pre-9/11 mindset, as he has advocated approaching terrorism as a law enforcement problem. I also think that he is placing far too confidence in international institutions. This frightens me and, more importantly, makes me mistrustful of Clark. The man obviously knows that our allies have limited capabilities, and an even more limited inclanation to help us, yet he seems to be suggesting that they will shower us with money and troops if only we use a little more diplomatic finnesse. This seems so improbable that it makes me question his veracity.

Third, people might not like Clark. I don't like him. He seems to be a power-hungry, narcissitic government bureaurecrat who is willing to say whatever he has to say to sit behind the big desk in the Oval Office. He reminds me of the vice president of some insurance company who is always kissing up to his superiors, fawning over them at the country club and taking up golf just becuase the boss likes to play, and riding roughshod over his subordinates, always threatening to fire them and holding their performance reviews over their heads like a club. This is not a favorable impression.

Lastly, don't assume that the American public will value the fact that Clark is more articulate than, and may be smarter than, Bush. Intelligence is valued in leaders, but not if it is condescending and mean-spirited. If Clark comes accross as a smirking prick, he'll suffer for it. If his supporters keep saying things like "it's time to put the adults back in charge," he'll suffer for this as well. This kind of personality poltiics won't matter as much in 2004 as it might have in past elections, because the issues facing our nation are serious. However, they will still matter.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 11, 2003 04:08 PM | PERMALINK

I am a Dean supporter, so Clark and other supporters may not believe my advice, but I want Dean to prove his mettle in a two man race and I'm just tired of the same argument on every liberal site for the last four months. So please:

The best, maybe the only way to defeat Dean is to unite around another candidate before the primaries begin. Seems to me that Clark is the best shot, but you could also make a case for Edwards, Gephardt, or Kerry. If you support Clark, you don't need to win over a single Dean supporter to win the primaries--you need to win the over the people who don't support Dean or Clark. So talk Clark up, and if you must talk someone down make it Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt.

And if you want to win over Dean supporters, talk Clark up and talk about how you think Dean is a great VP for Clark.

Seriously.

Posted by: Katherine at November 11, 2003 04:10 PM | PERMALINK

Gephardt is just saying that to pander to the left-wing base. I have followed his career for years and feel comfortable saying that he doesn't really mean it.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 11, 2003 04:12 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, great. Now Clark has gone and staked out a position that will further alienate him from the people he needs to reassure if he hopes to beat dean.

At least he remains a very viable VP candidate.
_____________________________
Clark Favors Flag - Burning Amendment
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Breaking with most of his Democratic rivals, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Tuesday he favors amending the Constitution to ban flag burning.

Lawmakers have debated such an amendment almost annually since 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled that destroying the American flag amounted to protected free speech.

In June, the Republican-controlled House approved a one-line change to the Constitution -- ``The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States'' -- for the fifth time in eight years. The Senate never has passed the proposed amendment.

Posted by: obe at November 11, 2003 04:18 PM | PERMALINK

Second, third, and fourth Kevin's comments about the wave of pacifism.

Folks, if you really want your agenda realized, you better do what the people way to the right of the GOP figured out they had to do. Remember the GOP's festival of inclusion in Philly last year, and how much better that went over than Pat Buchanan's Kulturkampf?

People in the middle - the people you need to win this election - are convinced that people on the left (a) hate the military (b) are unwilling to use force in the defense of America under pretty much any circumstances. If we don't have a convention that convinces the public we believe American power is a good thing you can reserve a seat for four more years at the George W Bush show.

On the off chance anybody's actually reading this, that does NOT mean we endorse W's policy in Iraq. It does mean that our solution does not look like fearful isolation or contempt for people with American flags out front of their houses. Our America, liberal America, is strong and free.

Posted by: TedL at November 11, 2003 04:20 PM | PERMALINK

This is cowardice. Kevin, you should be ashamed of yourself. This is exactly the attitude that is *killing* the Democrats.

Nobody votes for a candidate because they are "electable." They vote for them because they stand for something, they inspire, they excite. Champion another candidate if you like, but don't you dare trash Dean for standing up for our party and our beliefs. Dean's message has made me proud to be a Democrat again.

I'm not afraid anymore of losing to Bush. I'm afraid of losing to ourselves.

Posted by: Damian Carroll at November 11, 2003 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

If Dean gets the nomination, I will almost certainly vote for him. If anyone else gets the nomination, I will likely vote for a third-party candidate.

Which candidate? Someone to the left of Dean? You're aware that Dean is not the most liberal candidate right now.

This is the attitude that has caused me to rethink my sympathies for Dean. If he is only in the lead due to the support of people who really don't care if Bush loses- I don't want to run with that crowd. I want a Democratic President and I will vote for whoever the nominee is.

Posted by: Preston at November 11, 2003 04:27 PM | PERMALINK

Which candidate? Someone to the left of Dean? You're aware that Dean is not the most liberal candidate right now.

Indeed, that is one of the things that makes him more palatable to me than any of the other Democratic candidates.

If you must know, it is highly likely that I would vote for the Libertarian candidate if someone other than Dean got the Democratic nomination. While I am not in 100% agreement with the Libertarian Party, I find that I am in general much closer to them than I am to most major-party candidates. I am also not in 100% agreement with Dean--perhaps I am not even in agreement with him as much as I am with the Libertarians--but enough of his positions are aligned with mine that I feel I could vote for him without feeling sick to my stomach afterwards, and that is something I cannot say about any of the other Democratic hopefuls.

Posted by: Qoheleth at November 11, 2003 04:34 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with those that say the important thing is not what the attacks -can- be, but how the candidate responds to them.

I start off thinking Dean is not too electible (mouth open, quirky smile) and especially as he is smart, and American's fear smart people, throw in just a little geekiness... HOWEVER: he responds better to attack than any Democrat I've ever seen. And he can be convincing... not just showing his ire, but arguing his side a bit until you realize he did have a point, at least, and wasn't -just- trying to score political points... no, he was risking losing them so he could make his point.

Message: his point is important. The Republican's would paint Goldwater (you brought him up!) as a commie weak-kneed liberal if he ran as a Democrat. Dean could take that tactic and destroy it, because he has the will, and the record to prove it's wrong. Meanwhile Gore couldn't prove he didn't really think he invented the internet.

I love the idea of Clark running against the Chickenhawks. It could change the role of military politics for decades... if he was as good a campaigner as Dean. If. If Clark gets his sea legs, I'll still slide with him for what I would call strategic reasons. He spoke at a Republican fundraiser? Just proves he's not partisan, that it really is the policies of this particular administration that bothers him. However, could he make these counter points? I'm pretty sure Dean can.

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 04:35 PM | PERMALINK

TedL,

A few tanks on stage at the convention then?

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not afraid anymore of losing to Bush. I'm afraid of losing to ourselves.

hear f~cking hear.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

Clark & flag-burning amendment?

This is disturbing, but I fully realize half this nation are by definition of below-average intelligence, which makes it easy for demagogues to pile-drive their agenda.

small-d democratic wisdom: a vote you have to explain to your constituency is a losing vote.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 04:45 PM | PERMALINK

A shaky videotape of Clark praising the Bush team.
Comments (superimposed in print if they can't get people) about Clark from military people.
Quotes from Clark from the British newspaper in which he celebrated the fall of Baghdad.

I think Rove has plenty to choose from if he wants to go nasty on Clark. It's not right, but it's Rove. (Oh, and an attack on Clark regarding gays in the military would go a long way towards taking any conservative military votes that he might have stolen from Bush. The folks who aren't going to vote for Dean because of that won't want to vote for Clark either.)

So let's say Rove can at least partially neutralize Clark on foreign policy, mostly by quoting him in support of the war. That leaves Clark with domestic issues.

Uh huh.

I'm not saying he doesn't have policies. I'm just saying he isn't any different in electability from any other Democrat (and given that Dean has actually implemented health insurance, balanced budgets in VT, Clark is *less* electable).

Posted by: Opus at November 11, 2003 04:50 PM | PERMALINK

just remember that flag burning doesn't matter, that's why it should not be regulated... it doesn't matter.

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 04:50 PM | PERMALINK

Damn right the big issue is going to be national security. The Democrats have one shot at this: Hammer away at Bush's unseemly connections with the Saudi royal family, at the way Bush has sabotaged any serious attempt to investigate the intelligence failures that led to 9/11. Make sure your candidate is credible on this issue. Gephardt, Lieberman, and possibly Clark could pass muster on this; Dean will have a little more trouble. Put together a coherent foreign policy for dealing with terrorism and make sure everyone knows what it is.

And for God's sake, stop comparing Bush to Hitler. It may feel good to vent your anger hyperbolically, but it's only going to make the Dems look loony and will probably drive a lot of fence-sitters into the arms of the GOP.

Posted by: Grant at November 11, 2003 04:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious to know what the "Dean is Unelectable" people would say if Dean were to win the general election next year. I mean, do you folks think Dean absolutely can't win (barring a dead girl/live boy incident), or is there SOME reasonable way he could win?

Posted by: DavidNYC at November 11, 2003 04:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's post and all the hand-wringing above have definitely moved me ... to give Dean another $50.

Keep it up!

I'm happy with either the D/ARK or CL/EAN ticket.

btw: Kerry's campaign is in full meltdown with two more officials just jumping ship.

Posted by: JVictor at November 11, 2003 04:59 PM | PERMALINK

You may want to ignore this post. I'm a registered Republican and a swing voter in national elections having voted Republican is 64', '80, '84, '88, '92, and 2000 and Democratic is '68, '72,, '76, and '96. I will vote for Bush in 2004.

Our country benefits from having two strong, competitive parties. My preference is to see the executive and the legislature controlled by different parties. That's unlikely for the next 5 years.

Your party now finds itself in the position of having to depend on either a bad economy of failure in Iraq to stand a chance at election in 2004. The fact is that Bush will probably win even if both occur. And neither is likely.

Assuming there is no third party threat in 2004, we can safely estimate that 40% of the electorate will vote for any Democrat who runs, 40% will vote for any Republican, and 20% are in play although most of those in play lean one way or the other. What issues are important to most of those whose votes are in play? (1) National Defense, (2) Fiscal Responsibility, (3) Social Issues, (4) Gun Control, and (5) Likeability/Credibility of the Candidates. Specifically, in order to get most of the votes in play, the candidate must be strong on national defense, promote lower taxes and less spending, be moderate on social issues, oppose gun control, and be personally credible. Post 9/11, national defense trumps all issues.

There are 6 "serious" Democratic primary candidates. Dean opposed the Iraq war and by implication in the minds of most voters the war of terrorists. He is toast. Kerry and Clark (along with Dean) have indicated they would give France veto power over American foreign policy. They are toast. That leaves Lieberman, Gephardt, and Edwards. Lieberman and Gephardt are, to put it mildly, uninspiring. That leaves Edwards, a rich trial lawyer. He is also my senator. I voted for him in 1998 and was looking forward to voting to remove him in 2004. He is bright, young, and inexperienced, but in that field a shining star. To be fair, I would vote for Lieberman or Gephardt before Edwards 'cause I don't trust tort lawyers in positions of real power.

It's the hate Bush crowd, the ABB's, that got the Democratic party in the mess they are now in for the 2004 presidential election. Look at Bush. He's verbally inept, spends like a drunken sailor, plays excessively to the social and religious conservatives, inposed the stupid steel tariffs, etc. But he is serious about national defense and he cuts taxes. The right Democrat could beat him, but only Lieberman has the issues right, and the Democratic base will not nominate a Joe Lieberman.

So while you debate between two sure losers, the country will re-elect George W. Bush. (Putting both of the losers on the same ticket is a really interesting idea!) And the Republican members of the House and Senate will grow to 240 seats and 58 seats respectively. Oh, don't forget governors. 33 Republicans. These predictions are all reasonable Be sure to blame yourselves, because that is where the blame lies.

The great majority of US voters will never support Dean because he is perceived as soft on terrorists. His own words are the best indicator. Of course, his position on taxes will also hurt. Even fewer would vote for Clark because he is wishy-washy and inconsistent. He is perceived as a soulless opportunist with no moral center of gravity. The primary season has given Karl Rove so many damning snippets on both that his only problem is how to best spend his $200 million. He has snippets worth a billion!

Democrats, come on! America needs for you to be in the game. One completely dominant party is NOT good. Maybe we need a major debacle to get your attention. You are headed toward it. And it is sad.

By the way, get rid of Clinton's boy Terry. What a loser!

Posted by: Wayne Moore at November 11, 2003 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

Clark is clearly superior on foreign policy. He has worked/corralled the leaders of 19 countries with different agendas through a war. All he has to do is say (again) that Tony Blair was the guy asking him about the war, and what it would take to see it through. He has worked side by side along other world leaders, he has in fact led them. He is the candidate to restore our relations with Europe and beyond.

Anyone who watches Clark speak knows he is a guy that GETS the world view...
-Jonathan

Posted by: Jonathan at November 11, 2003 05:02 PM | PERMALINK

>>A shaky videotape of Clark praising the Bush team.
Comments (superimposed in print if they can't get people) about Clark from military people.
Quotes from Clark from the British newspaper in which he celebrated the fall of Baghdad.

Hmmmm. Interesting point. Clever Karl could air those videos not to attack Clark from the right but to keep disillusioned Greens and core Democrats home.

Posted by: aregee at November 11, 2003 05:04 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't had time to read all 200 whatever comments in detail, so please excuse any repetition of points made by other people.

First - I really dislike the term "unelectable." Given certain conditions, any of the top six Dems will be electable, and under other conditions, none of them will be. It's not a question of unlectable vs. electable, it's a question of strong vs. weak. And Dean, in my opinion, looks weak.

Why? A few reasons. For now, I'll focus on what I see as the biggest one - tax cuts.

Calling for a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the middle class - essentially, calling for a middle tax class increase - was idiotic. It may seem like a minor detail now, but in the general election, it won't be.

As Saletan pointed out in Slate, Dean has justified his call to repeal all the tax cuts in a few different ways, all of them pathetic (I agree totally with Saletan here, so I'll just paraphrase his points). First, Dean claims that there wasn't really a middle class tax cut. This turns his image into that of an elitist northeastern liberal who is totally out of touch with the situation of ordinary Americans, for many of whom several hundred dollars actually seems like a fair amount of money. Remember the reports of GHWB being baffled when confronted with a supermarket checkout scanner? Same idea.

Next, he claims that we need that money to pay for important government stuff and balance the budget. Before, he was claiming that the middle class tax cut was insignificant. So why the sudden need to snatch away the refund checks? Dean has now become the out of touch, elitist northeastern liberal who "thinks that he knows how to spend American families' money better than they do" - a pretty dumb GOP attack line in terms of its substance, but an effective one.

Finally, in the Democratic debate, Dean claims that wanting to repeal only some of the tax cuts makes you too much like Bush. He obviously won't be using this line in the general election, but it's still pretty telling. Favoring middle class tax relief makes you a Republican? Not the sort of thing you want your party's standard bearer to be saying.

Of course, tax cuts are only one issue. But the fact is, promising a middle class tax increase costs Dean what should be the Democrats' greatest asset: the perception that Dems are more attuned to the interests of working people and their families than Republicans. This blunts one of the party's most important weapons.

Equally importantly, it magnifies Dean's vulnerability in terms of other issues and his overall image. Does favoring gay unions make you a radical leftist who's out of touch with American values, or a reasonable and tolerant person who doesn't want government to deny people their rights? If you've called for a middle tax class increase, more likely the former. Does supporting national health care make you a big government liberal who wants to pour taxpayer dollars into an inefficient bureaucracy and deny health care choices, or a a dedicated and compassionate public servant who wants to guarantee that families don't have to constantly feel anxious about losing their health benefits? If you've called for a middle class tax increase, more likely the former. And so on.

Furthermore, the fact that Dean has committed to this kind of self-destructive message for little apparent benefit reflects very poorly on his political acumen, and in particular his ability to attract votes outside of the narrow constituency he's cultivated so far.

I'm far from sure that Clark is ready for prime time as a candidate, but my sense at this point is that he's likely to be stronger than Dean against Bush, and the tax cut issue is an important part of that.

Posted by: N V at November 11, 2003 05:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dean opposed the Iraq war and by implication in the minds of most voters the war of terrorists.

If the election were today, you'd be right. If Dean gets the nomination, whether he can win or not depends very much on whether he can convince the electorate that being against the war on Iraq does not mean being against the war on terrorism. Can he? I honestly don't know.


(2) Fiscal Responsibility...promote lower taxes and less spending

Lower taxes, check, Bush has the edge on that one. Less spending? Nope. This one depends on how much the Democratic machine can make the "borrow-and-spend" charge stick to W., to counter the "tax-and-spend" charge usually applied to Democrats.

be moderate on social issues, oppose gun control,

Oh look, Dean is good on these two.

Posted by: Qoheleth at November 11, 2003 05:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Wayne Moore for, if nothing else, demonstrating the attitude of a winner.

Friends, there are two responses to Republicans acting like they own the freakin' country. The first is to say, whip it out, hound dog, and we'll see who's got the real goods.

The second is to say, oh no! The GOP sounds so confident and cool, what are we gonna do? We'd better put on our training wheels, or we're gonna get knocked off our bike!

All you armchair pundits whining that Dean is "unelectable" need to suit up. I'm reminded of this exchange from that 1985 cinematic masterpiece, The Goonies...

Chunk : Mikey, Mikey, come on, our parents are worried. It's dinnertime. Why don't we go home?

Mikey : Home? What home? In a couple more hours, it ain't gonna be home anymore. Come on, guys, this is our time. Our last chance to see if there really is any rich stuff. We've got to.

If Democrats don't show some balls this election, we're not going to have a party to go home to.

Posted by: Damian Carroll at November 11, 2003 05:21 PM | PERMALINK

"His(Dean's) arrogance at times is as minus is as lack of foreign policy experience."

Haha...saw Josh Marshall using this line a week or so ago. Yea, here we have the most arrogant, hubristic potus and administration in history...it's really killing chimpco, ain't it?

"Given all of this, it's extremly unlikely that Clark will wipe the floor with Bush. If he's debating Cheney, or Rice, his job will be even harder."

Debate performance- outside of a major faux pas by a candidate- have less to do with electibility then the campaign's ability to spin the pre-debate expectations and post debate results. What counts more is how well the campiagn plays the press game.

Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 05:29 PM | PERMALINK

We need to stop defining "strength" on national defense as being pro-Iraq war. Bush and the Republicans are finally weak here and Dean is poised to make an historic paradigm shift: pegging the Repugs as weak on national security.

Don't roll your eyes. It isn't just glibness. To start this war, the Bushies had to lie to the American people (chant it with me "Yellowcake, Yellowcake"), then basically break the intelligence gathering system in place since WWII, capped off by it's betrayal of a CIA agent to serve a political agenda. To cap it off, we'll like be treated to the sight of a president abandoning the battlefield-for purely political reasons-by late spring and Iraq still a godawful mess.

Every other serious candidate has had a waffle on the war. Dean has been right from the beginning. He's been arguing not that war is wrong, but that this is the wrong war and it's making us less safe. He's the guy who can look at the Repugs and tell them to get the hell out of the White House, the adventure's over, the grown ups are back, and we're going to make the world safer by cleaning up the mess they've made.

Anyone else is going to have to, at some point in a debate w/ W, look at the camera and say "sure, there were good reasons I supported the President on the war in Iraq, but..." That is weakness itself.

Posted by: Chris at November 11, 2003 05:44 PM | PERMALINK

wayne,

but you don't think that Bush is a failure... so what do you know about it? You'd have the Democrats nominate Bush then? Democrats have to use their own values, and they cannot borrow values from someone that thinks Bush is great, but can size up Clark's carreer as just being one of opportunism.

I don't really care what someone is "percieved as" by the group that "percieved" Rush as a grand honest fellow, or "percieved" Bush as a warrior in spite of him being AWOL enough for the commander of the base to which he was supposed to report to declare, yup, he never showed. You "percieved" that Gore lied about a million things he never did. Well, if not you, many did.

The Democrats have to stop thinking about how you percieve it and worry how they percieve it. If you vote Bush because they don't give you what you want (Lieberman... sure, sure you'd vote for Lieberman... I don't believe you!), that's just self-immolation, and your god given right in a free world.

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 05:45 PM | PERMALINK

Just checking in to see how things are doing here at RNC headquarters.

Like the true-blue propagandists you are you just keep repeating variations on the same "Dean is Unelectable" whine, over and over and over again.

Meanwhile the "likeable" George W. Bush has yet to attend ONE funeral or comfort ONE family ofa any serviceperson killed in the Iraq insanity.

As for Clark, he's little more than Liberman-Lite , a two-bit distraction confected to draw attention away from the man who's going to win the Democratic (only neo-fascist say "Democrat") nomination -- and with a little pluck, the Presidency of this horrid country.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at November 11, 2003 05:46 PM | PERMALINK

NV,

You have a point on the tax cut. It will be uphill but Dean works best uphill when everyone is looking for him to fall down it.

So, his issue isn't that $300 isn't a lot of money, his issue is that Bush has CUT more that $300 worth of services. You got cut $600 worth of services and he gave you $300. He conned you. Is there not a message there?

I think it's promising, if dangerous. Or maybe it's promising because it's dangerous. It gives the electorate some credit for intelligence, but not too much. It's not hard to understand "yes, he gave you $300, and yes, took $600".

I'm not a Dean supporter. Threads like this push me more in his direction than away. I guess I've already admitted my biases above... I don't want any of the outsides or the superfluous candidates, I'm thinking about Clark, Dean, Clark/Dean, Dean/Clark, and every once in a while I'm thinking... dang that Sharpton can get his speak on sometimes!

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 05:53 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike some others, I don't expect Dean's stance on the war to necessarily be much of a liability, but my guess is that it also won't be much of an asset, no matter what. Even if, come Nov 2004, every single American except Dick Cheney has decided that invading Iraq was a bad idea, that still puts Dean in the position of having his message to the public be "I told you so." This is not a great message to run on - there are few things worse for one's election chances than creating the impression that you think you're a lot smarter than the voters.

Conversely, this is why I doubt that the GOP will try to make much out of Clark's praise for Bush and for the capture of Baghdad, if he gets the nomination. Chances are good that many of the decisive voters in the 2004 election will be people who initially thought Bush was doing all right in foreign policy, but now have a lot of second thoughts. The Republicans aren't going to go out of their way suggest to those independents that Clark is one of them.

Posted by: N V at November 11, 2003 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

Is Dean electable? Who knows. But I am relatively certain that Dean, a liberal Vermont Democrat, will not win any Southern state (with the possible exception of Florida). So right out of the box Dean is already down at least 134 votes in the electoral college (by the way for those of you who think Gore won the election, that is the body that elects the President). Could any other Democrat pick up these votes? Probably not, though Edwards and Clark might be able to pick off one or two.

You also have to figure that Dean (or the Dem. nominee) is a lock in the urban Northeast and the left coast (which gives him 130 votes mas o menos).

We are now fighting for whats left. So, what is left. Well, the big places worth fighting for are Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Illinois. All of these states are interesting mishmashes. In Pennsylvania, you have a split between the urban east (Democratic leaning) and the more rural central and western part of the state (Republican leaning). Similarly, Michigan is a mix of the industrial urban south, and the more rural north. Florida--well, its a litte bit of everything--retirees, northerners, southerners, whites, blacks, Jews, Christians, Cubans, Columbians, other Latinos, Caribbeans, soldiers, farmers, fishers, hotel operators, developers, rural votes, urban voters, etc.. Illinois too is quite a mix.

We also have the Southwest and the Northwest (exclusive of Wash. & Ore) which lean Republican, and the Midwest (exclusive of Illinois and Michigan) which can be unpredictable.

Given all these variables, it seems to me the question to ask is what issues appeal to the voters in toss-up states.

Well, post 9/11 most voters, wherever located, are all going to be concerned about national security. In fact, I think its going to be the biggest issue in this election (the first Presidential election after 9/11). Like it or not, there will be no escaping this issue. While traditionally national security has not been a winning issue for the Democrats since 1960 (though arguably LBJ was able to use the national security argument to paint Goldwater as a dangerous loon in '64), the Democrats, if they are smart (and, by the way as a biased Republican I don't think they--with the possible exception of Lieberman--will be) can craft a good argument as to why they are better on national security. Here goes the Dems argument:

"On September 11, 2001, this nation was, without any justifiable provocation, deliberately and intentionally attacked by terrorists. We rightly stood by President Bush in that hour as he marshalled American men and women, and the brave people of Afghanistan suffering under the Taliban yoke, against the Theocratic rulers of that nation and the terrorists safely harbored there. For our victory in Afghanistan we give just credit to the President.

Like President Bush, we too were concerned about Saddam Hussein. That Dictator's horrible crimes against his own people and his neighbors were self-evident. President Bush's Democratic predecessor, had himself sought, with some success I might add, to contain and isolate the cancerous Baathist regime from spreading beyond its borders. However, while we had no doubt Saddam was a danger to his people and to his neighbors, we were not convinced that he posed a clear and present danger to America. We questioned the wisdom of invading a nation that, no matter how odious, had not attacked us. Thus, we are faced with the question: would we have been safer continuing to isolate and contain Saddam Hussein than we are now having invaded and attacked Iraq. Sadly, I am afraid our attack did not make us safer. Moreover, we have placed our nation's reputation and credibility with its allies in jeopardy--allies that we desparately need in our on-going just struggle against Al Queda and its ilk.

Nonetheless, finding ourselves now engaged in a battle that would have been better to avoid, we must resolve to fight and win it. We cannot and will not be defeated by the Baathist and their Fedayeen goons. Having invaded Iraq, we cannot abandon it to bombers of hospitals and mosques. But we must not fight this evil alone. We must broaden our coalition. We must seek allies. We must repair bridges to old friends. The present administration has not and will not do that. We will. And we will win."

Now, I don't agree with the argument (or at least not all of it), but I think its a winning argument (or at least not a losing argument). Whether, Dean or any other Democrat will be willing to, or capable of, making that argument following the primaries remains to be seen. I know that argument may not be a popular one on this Board, but on both grounds of sound policy and sound politics, I think advocating abandonment of Iraq is wrong. You might not like the fact that Bush took us there (and its fair to criticize that), but we're there. While we can debate whether invading Iraq will lead (has lead) to more terrorism against the US, I guarantee that cutting and running will invite more 9/11s. For a Democrat to win they will have to confront that fact.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble, its probably hard to tell where I was going with that.

Posted by: nc at November 11, 2003 06:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Dean opposed the Iraq war and by implication in the minds of most voters the war of terrorists. He is toast."

Wayne -- I don't think the Democrat has to be one that supported the war. The underlying justification of the war is, to say the least, dubious. There's no clear pre-war connection to the larger war on terror.

The mistake most of these Democrats have made is in their support for the war and reconstruction effort now. They should make damn sure they're seen as being totally committed to victory, now that we're in the war.

Of course, the major candidates say they are committed. But in the debates they lapse into "cut and run" type rhetoric, and, when faced with the tough question of whether to send $87 billion in reconstruction funds, 7 of 9 opposed it.

There should be virtually nothing more important than sending resources over to support the troops and the reconstruction in Iraq. They should be saying this loudly and clearly. Only two of them are -- Gephardt and Lieberman.

It would make a nice combination of views for those who opposed the war. Dean could give impassioned speeches about how the war was wrong, but now that we're in it we must do absolutely everything to prevail. He could make touching remarks about how we just have to support the troops, regardless of our political differences.

He wiffed on it. And, in my view, missed a chance to stake more of a reasonable, middle position on foreign policy.

Posted by: William Swann at November 11, 2003 06:09 PM | PERMALINK

IF Dean is unelectable, Dean Jr. will be a progressive Reagan. His effect on campaigning will be seen for years to come. He could go down as a hardliner, but the movement he's create will live on after him and will be lookin' for revenge in '08. I still think he'll be able to pull it off. I think that he will make Bush look like a complete idiot in the debates. Dean/Clark is still the way to go. Dean/Edwards isn't too bad either. Clark v. Cheney! Come on! It would be a bloodbath. Clark shouldn't get the top spot not because he's not qualified to be president, I just don't think he's qualified to RUN for president. Dean has never lost an election in a DEEPLY divided state like VT. If he can beat the "Take Back Vermont" crowd AND the Greens in VT, he can beat Rove and Bush. Dean's the only one who can not only combine the Gore base with the Nader base, but also attract indys and fed-up Republicans. All the other candidates can't even get Democrats very excited.

Posted by: Jumbo at November 11, 2003 06:10 PM | PERMALINK

Listen up weenies, you know who would be a winning candidate for the Democrats -- George W Bush. That's right. Think about it. Can you imagine me trying to smear Bush? No way. Advantage Bush. GWB is also the guy who can neutralize the Republican candidate's strengths on foreign policy. Moreover, while someone like Dean will turn away all the good people who think faggots should burn in hell, GWB can reach out to those people, while also maintaining a civil "above-the-fray" air. Dean's just too angry guys.

Bush/Cheney '04. It's a guaranteed win, you freaking pansies.

Posted by: Karl Rove at November 11, 2003 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wayne -- I don't think the Democrat has to be one that supported the war.

framing the war issue: we've only put the costs of taking Saddam out on our national credit card. Was it worth it?

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 06:18 PM | PERMALINK

You'd gobble Dubbya's vomit and beg for seconds.

And some of you wonder why some of us might shy away from the Democratic party.....

Posted by: Swing Voter at November 11, 2003 06:22 PM | PERMALINK

nc says:
Dean will not win any Southern state (with the possible exception of Florida)

the souther states split 43% for Gore/Nader. If they are in play Bush is in serious Bush '92 370-168 territory.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

pyrrho -

That's a good question, but I don't think "you've lost more in services than you've gained from tax cuts" is a strong campaign message. A refund check for 300 bucks is something that you can hold, feel, and spend. People just don't have that clear a sense of having lost a specific, concrete amount of services - and even if they did, they aren't necessarily going to link that to Bush's tax cuts, just because Dean tells them to. Plus, once Dean starts trying get people to think about what the government could have done for them with the money from the tax cuts, this gives the Republicans the opening they need to paint Dean as the guy who thinks he knows how to spend your money better than you do.

Of course, the deeper problem here is that the public isn't that aware of exactly where tax dollars and spending dollars are going. My impression is that the average voter thinks that the government should cut taxes AND balance the budget AND keep funding all those services that they want, and doesn't see the obvious problem with this. This is partly due to the Republicans' continual promises that you can have your fiscal policy cake and eat it too - promises that were based a little on supply side ideas, but were sold mostly through deceptively creating the false impression that most federal tax dollars go to things that voters don't care about.

It would be nice if the public overall had more of a clue about this. But, unfortunately, a closely divided and (most likely) vicious presidential election isn't the ideal time to try to educate voters about the details of the federal budget.

Besides, calling for tax increases on the middle class during a downturn seems like a somewhat questionable idea on its merits. Voters could ask Dean why the budget balancing couldn't wait until after middle and working class Americans are doing a little better - and they'd kinda have a point. It's hard for me to see how Dean would respond.

Posted by: N V at November 11, 2003 06:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm... 242 posts so far. Must be some controversy over this topic ;-)
On other threads I've agreed generally with Kevin's position and I like Dean a lot. Sure, Dean might have what it takes to win a steep uphill fight. It's just that I don't think we can afford to test that iffy proposition.

Posted by: fyreflye at November 11, 2003 06:41 PM | PERMALINK

(Hey Brett! Good to see you. Where ya been hanging out since IC went under?

pyrhho:

"So, his issue isn't that $300 isn't a lot of money, his issue is that Bush has CUT more that $300 worth of services. You got cut $600 worth of services and he gave you $300. He conned you. Is there not a message there?"

Two points:
1) Most middle class people got much more than $300

2) Most middle class people don't really get much in the way of services from the Feds. I certainly haven't noticed a difference in the level of government services I've been getting. But I sure have noticed that my tax bill is a lot lower, especially since I pay estimated taxes.

Around April, a lot of other people will notice it too. Think about it: The reduction in withholding kicked in half way through the year, even though the rates were retroactive. What does that mean? Big refunds, and in an election year to boot.

Posted by: Tom O at November 11, 2003 06:42 PM | PERMALINK

we cut taxes $300 and the deficit goes up $300... How is that good government? Who is going to repay that?

What happened to all those Perotistas from '92? What happened to Clinton's balanced budgets?

I feel like republican voters are thinking like 4 year olds in denial.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 06:43 PM | PERMALINK

Let me say first that if my primary were held today, I'd vote for Dean. That said, he comes off as arrogant, and not just to pundits. When he is attacked in the debates he gets that "I'm right and you're not being reasonable" look on his face. The confederate flag reaction (and I think he was right and everyone else was being unreasonable) is a prime example.

The main reason this is a concern is that Bush sells himself as a good old boy and this was a huge asset against Gore. You can bet the Republican spin machine will have everyone's expectations low for Bush again before the debates allowing him to look good if Dean looks down his nose at him.

I don't think this is a uncorrectable problem or something that makes him unelectable but we're kidding ourselves if we don't tally it up as a negative at the moment.

Posted by: Stuart at November 11, 2003 06:43 PM | PERMALINK

I really didn't think much of Howard Dean until I saw him in person. Well, guess what? This guy is the real deal. He has something that the other candidates do not -- he's a political warrior. Sure, Kerry and Clark are veterans, but they just don't have that spark that I saw in Dean. I really can't describe it, but apparently thousands of others have felt what I did upon seeing him and listening to him.

Let's not be so quick as to write off Howard Dean before the first primary or caucus ballot is even cast.

As a Dean supporter, I will hereby pledge to wholeheartedly support whomever the Democrats nominate. No matter your personal choice, please do the same. Failure on our part to not unite after the convention is not an option.

Posted by: Donald at November 11, 2003 06:46 PM | PERMALINK

From another former Democrat, now Independent Swing Voter:

-telling me I'm a stupid American (which is the implicit message behind "Americans are stupid", although I'm sure y'all Uber Intelligent folks understand)
-acting just like the Repubs did over Clinton (yeah, Clinton was a liar and slept with a lot of women- we know it, but we just don't CARE so DROP it and MOVE ON! This should be a familiar meme!)
-making snide remarks when others point out the above, even in the face of a massive loss in the most liberal of states, CA

all of these unfortunate tendencies HELP BUSH. They don't help the Dems. Stop it, please. It only takes a few vocal persons to stain the whole group- and those few voices are what's coming across.

Posted by: jennetic at November 11, 2003 06:48 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with the comment made earlier; don't many of Dean's supposed negatives go away in a Dean/Clark ticket.

And let's face it; Kerry is a good man, but a hopeless presidential candidate, even prior to this staff dustup.

It's perfectly reasonable to think that a tough Dean/Clark ticket can, with a big warchest and willingness to give and take, win this thing. I understand that we need to question this thoroughly, but I surely hope that we don't have a segment of the D population Ralphing it here.

Posted by: Bill Skeels at November 11, 2003 06:48 PM | PERMALINK

First, I said I'm voting for Bush in 2004. Period. I'm normally a swing voter who disagrees the base of both parties on most items. Being pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and generally liberal on social issues, the Republican party is an uncomfortable home. Hell, I also want to keep the right to burn the US flag in protest and am adamently opposed to organized prayer in schools. On the other hand, agreeing 100% with Bush on national security, wanting to reduce spending, and liking all tax cuts (even those for the "rich"), the Democratic party is also an uncomfortable home.

My concern is for the viability of the national Democratic party. Both Dean and Clark are catastrophes, especially Clark. Dean is great on social issues and SOME economic issues, but has unacceptable positions on national defense. His unwillingness to admit error combined with his readiness to make silly statements (the Confederate battle flag comment, for example), make him even less likely to be successful. Clark is simply a nut case. (By the way, read Andy Sullivan's fisking of some of his positions at http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=fisking&s=sullivan111103,)

I suspect that the real issue in the 2004 elections will be whether the Democrats can gain control for at least one house of Congress, hopefully the Senate. The country NEEDS that. By putting forward certain losers like Dean and/or Clark for president, the legislative losses will be deep especially in the Senate.

Maybe, just maybe, the Democrats need a really big loss in 2004 to get serious about national security. If so, choose Clark because he will likely not get a single electorial vote. Dean could possibly get 120.

You guys need to learn to like winning more than you hate Bush.

Posted by: Wayne Moore at November 11, 2003 06:51 PM | PERMALINK

If Dean wins NH and comes close in Iowa, the lookie loos will be sizing him up "big time." After that, if his Deaniacs gather in good sized numbers whenever he gives a speech and start chanting stuff like, "Give 'Em Hell, Howard," I think he is going to steamroll his way to the nomination. This short, no neck, testy "everyman" sort of guy is doing something to energize people that is downright mind-boggling. Electable? God, YES he's electable!

Posted by: susan at November 11, 2003 06:52 PM | PERMALINK

"we cut taxes $300 and the deficit goes up $300... How is that good government? Who is going to repay that?"

Good point. Lieberman says "the rich" (defined as those making above $200k, if I remember). Now ain't that a winner? Sure is a lot more appealing to Mr. average middle class voter than Dean's finger pointed at him.


Posted by: Tom O at November 11, 2003 06:53 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, part of the reason people may feel like they haven't lost much in the way of services is that the federal gov't has kept right on spending and racking up debt. A little obvious, but it's another reason why Dean will have a hard time convincing voters that they've sacrificed a lot in exchange for the tax cuts.

Which leaves Dean with the deficit as justification. And, I don't think that's going to cut it. Selling tax increases to balance the budget didn't work very well the last time we had big deficits, and I'm not sure why this time around would be any different.

Posted by: N V at November 11, 2003 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

Clark is theoretically perhaps, a stronger candidate against Bush, but if he can't even get his campaign organization together to wage a primary campaign, what difference does it make?

Now he's injecting Flag Burning into the debate. Good God - let's find another meaningless red-meat GOP cultural issue to tear ourselves up over.
Question: should we also outlaw burning the Confederate Flag? (sorry, couldn't resist).

Meantime, look at this self-inflicted wound on the Clark web site:

"BREAKING NEWS:
Clark Communications Director questions John Edwards retaining Hugh Shelton.

http://clark04.com/press/release/071/

You put a link to inside the beltway whining on your own home page? Who's running the show over there? He's highlighting the guy who's attacking him. Kevin, as a Clark backer you ought to be all over them yelling at them to take the damned thing down.

Posted by: Steve Cohen at November 11, 2003 06:57 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe, just maybe, the Democrats need a really big loss in 2004 to get serious about national security

if the repubs who were in charge in 2001 had been as serious about counter-terrorism as Clinton was in 2000 this would be a non-issue.

I live in bizarro world, where Ashcroft cut counter-terrorism funding out of budget priorities 9/10/01.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 06:57 PM | PERMALINK

Which leaves Dean with the deficit as justification

Perotista anger at the deficit took out pops in '92.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

Polling Report has some interesting numbers.
http://www.pollingreport.com/

51% Feel Bush is on the wrong track in Iraq - Support for the war is fading across the country and who ever wins is going to face a tough job in getting Americans to stay the course.
52% Disapprove of the job congress is doing
52% think the country is on the wrong track.
Bush's unfavorable ratings continue to climb and his favorable ratings are still dropping (though more slowly)

I think the fiscal irresponsibilty of this administration is becoming more and more clear to average Americans and all the candidates should be harping on it.

The budget isn't in balance, we're piling on debt to get a token improvement in the economy (from a corporate perspective only - there's been no real wage growth, consumer debt is up, savings rates are decreasing, housing prices have peaked). Unless you think Supply Side economics works (for the middle class) things are not going to get substantially better for the middle class. Job growth/loss will gigsaw up and down and the overall quality of life will gradually diminish.

We've been arguing "who's electable" but most of the people who supported Dean early on are not the flamming Liberals everyone tries to make them out to be - a great many of us are budget hawks and we have no desire to see this debt passed on to our children and we think that Dean has the executive experience and the political will to put the economy on a solid footing (and it is that record that is drawing independants and some Republicans - about 10% of whom are up for grabs this time around).

DRIVING A WEDGE
Strategists for several candidates said the campaign is going to get even nastier and more personal in the weeks ahead. Their plan is to try to drive a wedge between Dean and his liberal base by hammering his past or present support for gun rights and for changes in the Social Security and Medicare programs. “The more liberals find out about his record as governor of Vermont, the more they’re going to be uncomfortable with him,” said Jim Jordan, campaign manager for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).

http://www.msnbc.com/news/991236.asp

What they don't understand is that his supporter know exactly what he stands for.

Posted by: dorsano at November 11, 2003 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite argument is that showing strength and resolve and removing an unstable despot in the world's most important strategic region has actually made us less safe, not more. A variation on this theme is that the "real" enemy is Saudi Arabia, not Iraq.

I guess we can all expect to see tanks rolling into Mecca and Medina if Dean or Clark is elected President, right? And we'll have no problem enlisting the support of our allies for this audacious venture, right? If we are only polite to the French, they'll back us to the hilt with with 500,000 troops and $500 billion in economic aid -- right?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 11, 2003 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

Stop it, please. It only takes a few vocal persons to stain the whole group- and those few voices are what's coming across.

great, we can live in a fruit-flavored fantasyland where we all have ponies.

What's that quote I heard recently, roughly:

"We all agree the electorate is stupid" -- but
democrats sigh when saying it -- and republicans chortle with glee

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

showing strength and resolve and removing an unstable despot

unconnected. removing Saddam with our $5T Reagan/Bush/Clinton military was the relatively easy part, the strength and resolve part needs to be maintained at least thru 11/04 for your premise to hold.

Posted by: Troy at November 11, 2003 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

Tom, http://www.landv.net/IC/ Check it out, the water's fine.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 11, 2003 07:09 PM | PERMALINK

IIRC, there was a poll released in the last couple of months which showed that about 60% of the respondents felt that the tax cuts had made no difference to them. Those people might be open to a tax-cut rollback argument, barring any hysterical distortions of the policy.

A quick Google search brings up this older poll from last May, which is supportive of the Dem position:

http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/CBSNews_polls/tax_0513.pdf

Anyone know of a more recent poll taken after the last round of cuts?

Posted by: aregee at November 11, 2003 07:15 PM | PERMALINK

Troy,

Nah, the recession took out Bush I. Clinton won while promising to cut middle class taxes, didn't he?

Fact is, the last time we got rid of deficits, it was as a result of two Presidents who went against their campaign pledges on fiscal policy, a Democratic congress that signed off on tax increases, and massive economic growth. I don't know how replicable those things will be this time around.

But I think it's pretty clear that if we'd had to wait for a majority of presidential election voters to decide that they were in favor of middle class tax increases in order to balance the budget, the deficit would never have gone away.

Posted by: N V at November 11, 2003 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

>>Perotista anger at the deficit took out pops in '92.

What say we have George Soros buy some airtime and arm him with charts showing a complete fiscal meltdown in about 8 years?

Posted by: aregee at November 11, 2003 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is unelectable because he is a hot-headed left wing extremist, simple as that.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Republican lie which Dean will absolutely demolish during the general, leading to a victory. Dean will win because this man is lying, and Dean's record will make that clear.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 11, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

if dems want to win the presidency, they have to say gwb wants to end social security, medicare and medicade. that will get senoirs to vote against gwb.

Posted by: chef at November 11, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

William Swann wrote

Of course, the major candidates say they are committed. But in the debates they lapse into "cut and run" type rhetoric, and, when faced with the tough question of whether to send $87 billion in reconstruction funds, 7 of 9 opposed it.
I honestly don't think that is true; would you supply a link? I believe that Dean and Clark were in favor of the $87 billion. I would also add that I think many of the anti-87 votes were really a protest against the GWB mismanagement of the war, not against the necessity to spend the money. AFAIK, only Kucinich, Mosely Braun, and Sharpton truly intend to cut and run.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 11, 2003 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

"the souther states split 43% for Gore/Nader. If they are in play Bush is in serious Bush '92 370-168 territory"--Troy

Given the current crop of Democrats, unless the economy gets much, much worse, the South (with the exception of Florida)is not in play. Period.


In '92, with a bad economy, a very weak Republican incumbent, no wars, and two moderate Southerners at the top of the Dem ticket, the Dems pulled AR, Tenn, Ky, La, Georgia, and the Repubs took the other Southern States (NC, SC, VA, Florida, Texas, Miss & Alabama).

In '96, with a very good economy, no wars, and an extremely weak candidate at the top of the Republican ticket, and two moderate Southern incumbents on the top of the Democratic ticket, the Dems won AK, Tenn, La, Fla. and Ky. The Repubs won the other Southern States (NC, SC, Va, Ga, Miss., Ala., Tex.).

In 2000, with no wars, good economy, a relatively successful (if scandal-plagued) Democratic administration then if office, a Southerner at the top of the Democratic ticket, opposed by a relatively inarticulate and inexperienced Republican challenger from Texas, won exactly no, I repeat no, Southern states.

I think Clark and Edwards would have an outside shot of picking up a Southern state here or there (maybe Ky or La--as a North Carolinian, I can tell you I am not convinced that Edwards would even carry NC, in fact I tend to think he would not).

Textile closings have been an issue in NC and some other Southern states, but I don't think Dean, with his ham-handed attempts at appealing to Southerners, would be able to exploit the issue.

Posted by: nc at November 11, 2003 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats ARE weak on taxes because they admit the government needs them to operate.

The only defense is a good offense (and not raising taxes too much).

I like the meme-candidate above of "Borrow and Spend" Republicans, since every republican in recent history has done just that.

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

"The Beatles had it right on the relationship between money and love. "

The Beatles paid women to scream and swoon and faint. I think it's a bit naive to underestimate the power of the dollar.

Posted by: multitimbral at November 11, 2003 07:33 PM | PERMALINK

Bush Jr. in 1999: Well, I don't know much about foreign policy but I'll hire some people.

Dean in 2003: Well, I don't know much about foreign policy but I'll hire some people.

For the long term health of our country and our party, it seems to me that Dean wouldn't do any better than W in this area.

Posted by: Caroline at November 11, 2003 07:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why I hope Clark gets the nomination:

I agree with Dean on 90% of the issues. But I agreed with Gore on 90% of the issues, and he had a lot more going for him, internationally and domestically, and still lost.

I agree with Clark on 90% of the issues. And Clark has two things that Gore did not have, nor does Dean have now -- an impressive military record, and what's more important, personality. The 2000 election was all about personality. Why would 2004 be any different?

I voted for Gore because I knew he was the best choice, just as I'd vote for Dean over Bush. But I honestly cannot see why a swing voter would choose Dean. I can see why a swing voter would choose Clark.

Posted by: PapaJijo at November 11, 2003 07:49 PM | PERMALINK

There was a WaPo/ABC poll conducted 10/26-10/29; the details are in this WaPo story, Nation Again Split On Bush. The poll shows Bush's approval rating on handling taxes to be at the lowest of his presidency - 53% disapprove, 41% approve (MOE is 3%). The previous poll on 9/13 showed both at 48%. If I'm not mistaken, that's a 12 point swing in the space of six weeks.

The comments about taxes in the story were also quite illuminating:

The tax cuts that Bush says have powered a strong economic recovery are rarely mentioned by voters -- and easily dismissed when interviewers raise them as a topic. Nadine Polk, a Wheat Ridge, Colo., office worker who has switched from considering herself a Bush supporter because of Iraq, said, "It's hard to see what the tax cuts have done for me. We did get that check [the expanded child tax credit], but it didn't even pay for the increase in our property tax. . . . I don't see any sign that they helped the job situation."

I truly think fewer people got these "cuts", and got them in smaller quantities, than most of you think. People are getting killed on property taxes and state taxes, and the services are all going to SHIT. People do get the connection between taxes and services. Granted, Dean would be better off couching his stance in terms of returning to Clinton AND Reagan, but the stance itself is not going to hurt him. To the contrary, his insistence on fiscal responsibility is going to win him all the adults in this country.

Posted by: Theresa in Oakland at November 11, 2003 07:55 PM | PERMALINK

The essence of the DLC is to take polls for current voter attitudes, assign a new 'important' demographic du-jour, and then move toward the 'target' demographic with policy. If the policy conflicts with what are traditional Democratic dogma, they find a historical precedent to stretch to make their point.

You're absolutely right. And initially, when I first became aware of the DLC's dissing Dean, I was really pissed. I've never cared much for that crew, and Dean's opposition to Jr. really inspired me at a time when I was becoming convinced that literally the entire country had lost its collective marbles.

But, after taking a closer look at the electoral map, and thinking through the RNC strategy, I had to concede this point to the DLC. The civil union issue will be our undoing.

Think of the states Dean has to pick up. He ain't gonna get Florida - that was stolen long ago. That leaves places like Kansas (where I grew up), Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio, etc. I grew up in Kansas, and have worked on quite a few local and national campaigns in those parts of the country. Let me tell you, unequivocably, that "gay marriage" will confirm every "radical liberal" preconception in the minds of every single swing voter in those states.

It bothers me that, outside of the DLC, and specifically in the Dean campaign, I don't see an acknowledgement of the importance of countering this issue early. Instead, I see alot of wishful thinking. "Oh, we'll appeal to the common sense of the voter, and civil unions aren't the same thing as gay marriage, etc, etc."

That's not the way it'll play. The debate won't be about the relative merits of civil unions (which, after all, is an entirely local issue which has absolutely NOTHING to do with a President's real responsibilities). Rather, it will be a talking point which cements the word "liberal" to Dean. Clinton won a majority of the vote as moderate, not a liberal. Same with Gore.

Dean needs to get on top of this NOW. He can do it with a strong commitment to privacy, by catering to the "social libertarian" streak that intersects the Republican and Democratic coalitions, but I just don't see any evidence of that happening, and I'm scared.

Because of Bush wins another term, I'm gonna have to move to Canada, and it's cold up there.

Posted by: brautigan at November 11, 2003 08:01 PM | PERMALINK

Any of the major Dems can beat Bush, if the chips fall into place. However--I believe Dems just recently shot themselves in the foot bigtime. When Dean mentioned southerners, however ineptly, he was quickly surrounded and given a whoopin.' For Dems to have any shot at winning some southern states, you can't portray them all as inbred, etc. Dean's comments a few days later again tore at the wound.

BTW, I boil the race down to Dean and Gephardt. I think all the rest are terminal.

Posted by: Joe Baby at November 11, 2003 08:11 PM | PERMALINK

For the Demorcrats to win the best choices are Lieberman and Gephart.

Both have a domestic agenda, both have a long history with the party, both are able to appeal to moderates, Lieberman will have the advantage with social conservatives, Gephart will be able to get the arab vote and lets be honest here. 99% or more of the arab vote will either go 3rd party or sit out if a Jew is on the ticket. This is not right or fair but it is the truth. To pretend otherwise is to bury the head in the sand.

For the country the best candidate however is Dean. This is because he is the best contrast to Bush. This will give the country a clear choice of directions and I'm sure the country will choose wisely.

Posted by: P. Ingemi at November 11, 2003 08:12 PM | PERMALINK

Caroline,

Seems like your "I don't know much about foreign policy, but I'll hire some people" line could as easily apply to Clinton in 1992 as Dean in 2004, maybe more so.

The main thing is to have someone who A. is a pragmatist with good general instincts about foreign pol (that is, can distinguish good advice from garbage advice) B. actually cares about understanding what's going on in the world. C. won't actively undermine our international credibility and image and D. will hire competent people, rather than idiots and extremists.

Bush fails on all four. With Dean, it's impossible to say for sure, but I think he'll probably do all right. Whether he can sell himself as a strong candidate on foreign affairs is a different story.

Posted by: N V at November 11, 2003 08:19 PM | PERMALINK

After reading the comments here I think a reality check is in order.

All those people saying they are going to go to Canada if Bush wins need either a reality check or to go now since they aren't interested in contributing to the country they live in.

This is the same mistake that was made on the right over Clinton.

The United States is much like baseball. It is bigger than any player or team or incident. The quality of the game and the fans keep it alive no matter what happens

The quality of the American people and the republic that they live in have allowed us to survive some bad times from depression, to world war, to the cold war, to a civil war (remember the Lincoln is a dictator holding an election in the middle of a civil war?), It survived the tie between Jefferson and Burr, the Hays Tildon bit, Florida 2000, Watergate, Monica and everything else.

The far right was wrong to thing that the country could not survive 8 years of Clinton, the far left is equally wrong concerning Bush.

Posted by: P. Ingemi at November 11, 2003 08:21 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is unelectable, so let's nominate one of the brilliant campaigners whose butt he has already soundly kicked.

Posted by: Trickster at November 11, 2003 08:26 PM | PERMALINK

More about that hopelessly unelectable Dean.

Howard Dean's Unlikely Road To a Major Boost From Labor
AFSCME and SEIU Set to Announce Joint Endorsement
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 12, 2003; Page A08

"...What startled Stern was McEntee's revelation that his union also was ready to go for Dean and that he wanted the two unions to do it together.

It was a radical idea, one that would put the AFL-CIO's two largest -- and among the most politically potent -- unions behind Dean's candidacy, a move Stern later described as McEntee's "big-bang theory" of how the SEIU and AFSCME together could vault Dean above the rest of the Democratic pack in a way that acting alone might not.

This afternoon at a Washington hotel, McEntee, Stern and Dean are set to formally consummate the deal that was brokered over that Monday morning. For Dean, the endorsements showed that, even as he was building support at the grass roots, he was also playing a skillful inside game with some of the Democratic Party's most important power brokers.

From the beginning, Dean believed that the SEIU and AFSCME, with their own grass-roots strength and highly diverse memberships, were the two most important endorsements he could get, and he worked methodically, from outside and inside, to win their support.

It sends a very strong signal to the establishment in Washington," Dean said yesterday. "This says that two people who know me well and who know inside Washington well think we're the most likely person to beat George Bush."

The move stunned labor and political insiders..."

Posted by: susan at November 11, 2003 08:40 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans have proved over and over that winning is not about finding the right candidate, its about fighting dirtier and producing better propaganda than the next guy.

I believe the real reason that Dean are Clark are the current favorites is because they both are perceived as the sort who would not "bring a knife to a gun fight".

Posted by: Boronx at November 11, 2003 08:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, and they are using that knife to cut their own throats.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 11, 2003 09:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bo,

yup, don't even bring a gun!

Posted by: pyrrho at November 11, 2003 09:11 PM | PERMALINK

"You're absolutely right. And initially, when I first became aware of the DLC's dissing Dean, I was really pissed. I've never cared much for that crew, and Dean's opposition to Jr. really inspired me at a time when I was becoming convinced that literally the entire country had lost its collective marbles.

But, after taking a closer look at the electoral map, and thinking through the RNC strategy, I had to concede this point to the DLC. The civil union issue will be our undoing."

But all of the Dems support some sort of equal rights/partnerships/benefits for this issue.

I haven't reaserched the DLC's official stand on the issue, but I would wager that they have some sort of pro-stance, short of gay marriage. And you could also find within one of their more recent demographic du jours- wired workers or office park dads- that those groups are socially tolerant to libertarian.

People are convinced that this issue will kill Dean in the South. Why won't it kill Lieberman? Why is it that the 'progressive' south that dipshit Zell Miller was recently bragging about will eventually come around and recognize gay partnerships...maybe 40 years after the rest of the country does?


Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

NC "Given the current crop of Democrats, unless the economy gets much, much worse, the South (with the exception of Florida)is not in play. Period."

Great post. You may also note that both Clinton and Gore-centrist to the core- were considered too Liberal to win the south. Which just goes to show how difficult it is to win the south. (Not to mention that in Gore's case taking a centrist path also opens you up to third party nadiroidism on the left)

Clinton was such a rarity, and I doubt that we'll see another Democrat with his political ability in my lifetime. Yet with all his skills, he didn't do very well with the south against Dole- about as weak a candidate one could hope for against a hugely talented southern pol.

Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 09:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't especially buy into the theory that Rove is an unbeatable political supergenius — a few hundred votes in Florida and he'd be lying in a gutter somewhere in Austin — but he is good at what he does

Nail-biter win or not, you don't want to underestimate Rove. Gore should have won the election hands down. He didn't because Rove & Co came up with a brilliant game plan that maximumized every last electoral vote. This election will be a piece of cake for Rove & Co compared to the last one.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at November 11, 2003 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Nail-biter win or not, you don't want to underestimate Rove. Gore should have won the election hands down. "

Seeing that Gore was down to Bush by close to 20 points two years before the election-when no casual political follower knew squat about bush- why should Gore have won 'hands down'?

Posted by: jdw at November 11, 2003 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dean's not totally boxed in on taxes. He can call for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts and also for a tax cut of his own that helps everyone, paid for by closing some unpopular loophole--like an increase in the standard deduction & child tax credit.

He could also say that those are not the Bush tax cuts, they're the Democrats'.

Both are slightly flip-floppy, but why the hell not.

Posted by: Katherine at November 11, 2003 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe, just maybe, the Democrats need a really big loss in 2004 to get serious about national security. If so, choose Clark because he will likely not get a single electorial vote. Dean could possibly get 120.

You guys need to learn to like winning more than you hate Bush.

Nail on the head Wayne!! Good post.

Bush will win on economic issues. We have had deficits forever. Clinton did not have 8 years of surpluses - only 2(or 1?) and he only unexpectedly had those because of the out-of-control stock market bubble. The American public is used to having deficits and the one we are projecting while large is not overwhelming.

Bush will win on Iraq. Once more Iraqis are trained to maintain security and we hunt down those thugs that are killing innocent Iraqis, aid workers and our troops, normalacy will return to Iraq.

The Demcorats don't offer any alternatives for the economy other than raising taxes. Then if they raise taxes will it go to decrease the deficit? No, it will be spent on more social programs. Tax and spend.

The Democrats do not offer any viable alternatives for the war on terror or in Iraq other than getting the UN involved. Letting the UN determine our national security or foreign policy is not a good idea in most American's minds.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at November 11, 2003 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is comes across as less wimpy than anybody the Democrats have nominated in long long time. When he says he would not hesitate to go to war if necessary, he sounds like he really means it. That is what counts. I doubt Bush will be able to succeed at painting him as weak on national defense.

Posted by: Dave S at November 11, 2003 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, how can you expect your arguments to be listened to when you've already decided to support Clark? You're just shilling for him now.

Sorry if someone else already asked, I didn't feel like looking through 300-odd comments.

Posted by: magnum at November 11, 2003 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Choo choo! What's that? Can anyone hear Hillary comin' round the bend?

Posted by: magnum at November 11, 2003 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

National Security is not.... I repeat again Kevin.... not going to be the number 1 issue. That will be the big Republican mistake. I hope they do think it will be the number 1 issue and they will have their ass handed to them just like 1992.

Posted by: Pancho & Lefty at November 11, 2003 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

There are plenty of Republicans (not to be found on web boards for sure) that can't stomach the thought of voting for Bush a second time. Some of them will hold their noses, true, but many are just going to stay home, or vote dem.

Personally I can't wait till someone gets his "just so long as I'm the dictator" series of quotes into an add in late September. The possibilities are really endless, and all the money in the world is not going to keep the mountain of mud that bush has piled onto himself from sticking.

Republican GOTV efforts will be hampered by the Iraq lies and the balooning deficits, and the Republican party is *nothing* without it's superior ability to get the vote out.

Posted by: Boronxing at November 12, 2003 02:30 AM | PERMALINK

NV
You can't compare 1992-a time of peace and the end of the cold war with 2004-a time post terrorist attack. Failure to face this reality will get our butts handed to us.

Posted by: Caroline at November 12, 2003 03:28 AM | PERMALINK

Caroline,

Point is, Clinton had little or no foreign policy backround, and he turned out to be very good in that regard. I think Clinton would have been fine on foreign policy in 2004, too, despite the changed international situation.

I don't think you can compare Dean with Bush, because Bush, in addition to having little foreign policy background, is narcissistic, shallow, incapable of distinguishing good advice from bad advice, and incapable of distinguishing good politics from good policy. Those were the really big problems, not just "lack of experience" - few state governors have a lot of foreign policy experience, but we can't exactly disqualify them all from running for president (especially since ex-governors have been the strongest presidential candidates over the past few decades).

I have little doubt that Dean would be a major improvement over Bush in terms of foreign policy.

Posted by: N V at November 12, 2003 04:31 AM | PERMALINK

I think I've made my main points as clear as I can, and I don't have time to continue this debate at the moment. But before I go, there are a couple general pro-Dean arguments that I'd like to respond to, because they've shown up repeatedly and are, I think, particularly dubious.

First, the idea that Dean's success so far demonstrates that he's likely to be a viable candidate in the general election. I strongly disagree with this. People who follow Democratic politics via the internet and donate money to Democratic candidates a year before the election are not, repeat NOT, necessarily representative of the overall electorate. I don't think anyone is questioning how effective Dean has been in the little world of the early stages of the Democratic primary campaign - the point is that his effectiveness so far is largely irrelevant in the big world of the general election. The ability to raise a bunch of cash from true believers provides no proof of mainstream appeal.

Second dubious argument - the idea that worrying about "electability" at all is a sign of weakness, lack of sincerity, lack of confidence, lack of machismo, etc. Again, I think this is nonsense. Given two candidates with relatively similar ideological stands, competing to run against a candidate who has dramatically different positions (and is also not a very competent leader), the ability of a potential candidate to win in the general election is clearly important, in substantive terms- not just for the party, but also for the country. If you care about beating Bush and think the USA would be a better place without him in charge, the strengths and weaknesses of possible opposition candidates are an extraordinarily significant concern. And the idea that worrying about it shows a lack of resolve or a lack of courage is crazy.

Only a totally dysfunctional and totally irresponsible party would fail to take this issue very seriously.

Posted by: N V at November 12, 2003 05:01 AM | PERMALINK

multitimbral said "The Beatles paid women to scream and swoon and faint. I think it's a bit naive to underestimate the power of the dollar."

I guess there are a few nut-case conspiracy theorists on every board, but this one takes the cake.


Posted by: Old Timer at November 12, 2003 06:40 AM | PERMALINK

"First, I said I'm voting for Bush in 2004. Period. I'm normally a swing voter who disagrees the base of both parties on most items. Being pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and generally liberal on social issues, the Republican party is an uncomfortable home. Hell, I also want to keep the right to burn the US flag in protest and am adamently opposed to organized prayer in schools. On the other hand, agreeing 100% with Bush on national security, wanting to reduce spending, and liking all tax cuts (even those for the "rich"), the Democratic party is also an uncomfortable home. "

Wayne -- You sound like the veritable prototype of a Lieberman voter. I'd wager your specific positions on issues are significantly closer to Lieberman than Bush, and I think in the course of this campaign Lieberman has proven he's serious and steady on the Iraq issue -- he keeps telling fellow Democrats things they very much don't want to hear.

I also have some reason to believe, recently, that Lieberman is more committed to victory in Iraq than Bush. There's a whole slew of serious folks on both sides of the aisle -- Hagel, McCain, Biden, Lugar -- who see the defense department's new plans to draw down forces over the coming months as extremely ill-advised and possibly the early stages of capitulation.

Lieberman has pretty clearly joined that crowd in terms of his recent remarks. He mentioned in his interview following the Rock the Vote debate, for instance, that we may need to send more American troops to Iraq and that we should not be discussing a drawdown.

He may be a steadier hand at the tiller than Bush.

Don't know if you have open primaries in your state, Wayne, but if so I would encourage you to go pull the lever for Lieberman. I'd also like to talk to you about doing some commenting for our centrist blog Centerfield. You have a very interesting mixed perspective on all this.

Posted by: William Swann at November 12, 2003 06:59 AM | PERMALINK

I gotta say: I have a huge, huge soft spot for Dean. Just when he was wearing on me, just when he was starting to piss me off, out came the Confederate flag comment - and I really started warming to him again. Honest to god, no irony here - it was exactly the right sentiment, if expressed in exactly the wrong way. Maybe that's one of the things I like about the guy so much.

But Christ, the more I see him, the more I see that he's going to be a walking, bleeding target for the Bush-Cheney money machine (aside: I think Rove is seriously overrated, but Bush has spent his entire presidency campaigning and raising money... he has a s##tload of attack ads to unleash). Think about every odd and awful gaffe Dean's let slip. Think about how he can't seem to go two weeks without letting another one fly. Imagine an ad for each one. Add that to Bush's pounding of war propaganda and you have a strong primary candidate becoming a very weak general candidate.

What draws me to Clark as a candidate is the same thing that makes him more electable than anyone else in the Democratic field: he's got the best and clearest ideas on foreign policy, and he's got a style and personality that's just open and inviting across the political spectrum. He's been cursed with a miserable campaign and a late entry - but he's the man who can beat Bush where it counts, and he'll have my vote on Super Tuesday... assuming he makes it that far.

Posted by: munster truck at November 12, 2003 07:17 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew says:

"I honestly don't think that is true; would you supply a link? I believe that Dean and Clark were in favor of the $87 billion. I would also add that I think many of the anti-87 votes were really a protest against the GWB mismanagement of the war, not against the necessity to spend the money. AFAIK, only Kucinich, Mosely Braun, and Sharpton truly intend to cut and run."

Dean and Clark both specifically opposed the $87 billion. Secondarily, I would observe that the atmosphere at the debates, when Iraq is discussed, is almost a frenzy of anti-war rhetoric and Bush-bashing. The only thing mentioned besides the fact that the war was wrong is that we should internationalize the conflict and turn things over to the UN. That last theme is quite true -- we should internationalize it -- but is way overemphasized.

The effect, taken together, comes accross as a minimization of US resources going to Iraq and a minimization of our commitment. Not the right message now, either for the country or for these candidates.

Here's a link to a specific reaction following the debate Sept. 4 in Albuquerque when Dean actually slipped into the rhetoric of withdrawal -- saying on a couple of occasions that we should "bring the troops home".

Posted by: William Swann at November 12, 2003 07:26 AM | PERMALINK

Nathan Newman (www.nathannewman.org/log) makes a good point about Dean:

Leadership by Listening: Dean's plebiscite on whether to reject public matching funds can look like a gimmick, but the Internet-driven listening to the grassroots involved is reflective of a broader "leadership by listening" that he obviously applied to getting the SEIU endorsement.

How Clark lost the AFSCME endorsement, which he almost had in hand, illustrates Clark's failure as a leader to listen:

The fatal blow for Clark came when his campaign team decided last month to pull out of Iowa. The night the news was breaking, Clark called McEntee to tell him. McEntee told him he was making a terrible "strategic mistake." Last week, a Clark campaign official told another labor official that no one on the campaign had known how important Iowa was to AFSCME and McEntee -- further proof to AFSCME leaders of the weaknesses inside Clark's operation.

The sin was not the strategic decision to pull out of Iowa, but not even to be listening to a key ally to understand it mattered to them.

Real leadership is not making prepared speeches that sound good-- hell, we've seen enough of that in the last couple of years to know that's not leadership. Real leadership is real organic engagement with people and organizations, listening to what they need, shaping a response that channels the energy of the population, and then implementing the plan. By that score, Dean deserves a lot of credit as a leader. ...

Posted by: David W. at November 12, 2003 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Given two candidates with relatively similar ideological stands, competing to run against a candidate who has dramatically different positions (and is also not a very competent leader), the ability of a potential candidate to win in the general election is clearly important, in substantive terms- not just for the party, but also for the country."

Woo hoo - I think we've got a campaign slogan for 2004!

Posted by: Damian Carroll at November 12, 2003 08:11 AM | PERMALINK

Earth to Democrats, there is not one candidate in the field that is not rippable, and there is not one candidate who won't be ripped, slimed, and gored hard every minute of every day by the Mighty Wurlitzer.

You will never find such a candidate. What you might be able to find is fighter who gives twice as good as he gets. A candidate might emerge with teflon skin. You will not find a candidate that is so clean that Rove won't find effective attacks.

Posted by: Boronx at November 12, 2003 09:09 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Swann: First, the short comment. On Dean and the $87 billion:

DEAN: We have no choice, but it has to be financed by getting rid of all the president's tax cuts. Even though I did not support the war in the beginning, I think we have to support our troops. The $87 billion ought to come from the excessive and extraordinary tax cuts that this president foisted upon us, that mainly went to people like Ken Lay who ran Enron. [Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003 ]

Now the long comment: As it happens, I think it's very likely that we will need more troops in Iraq. The entire Bush Plan, which centered around Ahmed Chalabi, 30,000 US troops by Fall 03, and an American share of $1.7 Billion for reconstruction (links on request) was total fantasy-land, and the utter unreality of it was enough reason to oppose letting Bush invade Iraq, even if you thought it was a good strategic idea, which I did not. Events show that these claims were not just a PR selling point, while a second plan was readied quietly for a more difficult operation, because we are now flying blind. There was no backup plan.

Having followed your link, I am not sure that Dean's comment is being seen in quite the correct context. (It also predates the deterioration of the security situation.) I read it as calling for the implementation of the long-delayed troop rotation: we have units in the field that have been there much too long for morale, at least according to the standard Army doctrine (whose correctness I could not possibly evaluate). In September, I think there were reasons to believe that if GWB could bring himself to apologize to our allies and agree to internationalize the control of the occupation force (not just accept a few contributions to work under our command), the troops due to come home could have been replaced by foreign troops.

I'd like to hear Dean on this again, because I can see that now we need more troops: ours plus Allies'. And not just any random troops: much as we seem to hate to admit it, our Allies have troops (and support civilians) with real experience in failed-state reconstruction from Yugoslavia. They were the ones telling us we had too few troops all along. Of course, our leaders knew best (I mean, the Europeans hadn't given millions to Chalabi to get him ready for his big moment), and so Bush blew off this advice.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 12, 2003 09:22 AM | PERMALINK

Wake up democrats. It is quite obviously that the Repubs want them as the dem nominee. Because they know that dean will not be able to carry any southern states. Let alone that close states that went for Gore in 2000 without a viable candidate this time probably will go for Bush because of the national security issue. Why do the repubs attack Clark? Because they know that he is a winner and will win the election against Bush. He has broad appeal in attracting, independents and republicans. And I think that the repubs that are disgusted with Bush will vote for Clark. This will assure Clark of a Landslide in Nov.'04. It won't even be close. Let's face it, Bush popularity numbers are continuing to slide. He is history. Clark will win the democratic nomination and go on to become the next president of the U.S. Sit back and wacth it happen!!

Posted by: gerald for clark'04 at November 12, 2003 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I always love the Dean defense of anyone will be attacked. Yes that is true. But the question very much comes down to character.

Who is going to look more stable and presidential in the debates?

The candidate that bites back immediately and later realizes that they have made a mistake.

or

The candidate that laughs off the attack and turns it on it's head.

That's the real question and what will be the defining moment for many voters in the 04 race.
The resident of the oval office commands the US armed forces. Who do you want sitting at the button?

Posted by: DanD at November 12, 2003 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Unelectable? Yeah, right.

Dean appeals to non-Democrats as well as Democratic partisans.

The GOP will have a buttload of money to spend? The media will back Bush? What's new?

It's the votes that count. If the Democrats get pissed - and they are - and Americans pay attention to Iraq and the economy - and they are - Bush will lose. Bush lost in 2000 when running against a mannikin like Gore. He'll have an even harder time against a tough campaigner like Dean.

Posted by: Adam at November 12, 2003 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I have a bit of a unique perspective on this.

I was so conflicted about the last election that I actually sat it out. I considered the Gore-Lieberman ticket as reasonable as the Bush ticket.

Now I will RUN to re-elect Bush.

The Left's open vitriol and anti-semitism scares the hell out of me. I know that if I want to find an opinion which criticizes western values and (implicitly) supports the survival of fascist regimes I can simply turn to any of a myriad of Leftist sites. Want to find someone who considers the protection of Jewish life a 'War crime' - Leftist have it. Want someone who actually thinks that the removal of Hussein was a bad thing? Plenty on the Left. Want someone who thinks the US deserves terrorism because of its history? Just click the links on the LEFT.

It is horrifying how many anti-Us, anti-Israel, pro-Castro, Pro-Mumia, terrorist appeasers there are on the Left.

While these people do not represent the entirety of the Dem party, they are a significant portion of the Dean base. A Dean victory invigorates this movement and gives it license to continue its extreme line from a position of power. This does not mean that Dean believes these things but the fact that he throws red meat to these folks instead of castigating their extremism shows that he is willing to consider them allies in his candidacy.

While I may not be the typical 'independent' since I lean Republican, I have certainly been convinced by the horrifying rise in bigotry and vitriol on the Left to vote for Bush no matter what. At this point Iraq and the economy are irrelevant to me. I couldnt care less. I am far more scared of the prospects of this country being run by the folks who dress up in turtle costumes on the street of Seattle and hold signs that read

"Bush=Hitler & Israel=Nazis"

Posted by: Dude at November 12, 2003 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hi Andrew. I did a little searching to find Dean's specific position on the $87 billion. It's been widely reported in the press that 7 of 9 presidential candidates opposed it -- and Lieberman and Gephardt are the two who supported it.

Here's a link showing Dean's position.

Take a moment to think about his rationale. He says we can't support it until the administration finds a way to "pay for it" -- e.g., we need some sort of offseting revenues, given our large deficits.

We'd certainly like to have those offseting revenues. But the deficit isn't normally seen as trumping national security during wartime.

Dean's argument is one of many made in opposition to the $87 billion. Several of those arguments are pretty good.

But the vote is ultimately a basic leadership test, in my opinion. You have, on the one side, all the flaws in the package and all the arguments against it. And on the other side you have supporting our troops and funding reconstruction. The Democrats aren't in a position to dictate Iraq policy, since they don't control the White House or either house of Congress. They can't pass a package of their own. So they have to decide if passing the presiden'ts package is better than voting it down.

The question is, realistically speaking, whether a flawed package is better than cutting off funds for the war.

And you can't do the latter if you prioritize staying in Iraq and seeing it through to victory.

Posted by: William Swann at November 12, 2003 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Wayne -- You sound like the veritable prototype of a Lieberman voter. I'd wager your specific positions on issues are significantly closer to Lieberman than Bush, and I think in the course of this campaign Lieberman has proven he's serious and steady on the Iraq issue -- he keeps telling fellow Democrats things they very much don't want to hear."

Joe Lieberman is a serious patriot with mostly moderate domestic positions. Until he changed sides on educational vouchers to appease Gore, my positions were virtually identical to Lieberman's. I could vote for him in preference to Bush. He clearly understands that the war on terrorism is a life and death struggle for the US. But there is no way the mostly anti-war Democratic base is going to nominate Lieberman this year. I hope I'm wrong on this.

My state, NC, does not have open primary voting. Also, the May 4 date is late; probably too late to affect the outcome of the nomination. However, I do plan to change my party registration to vote in the primary. Lieberman is my man!

Electability is an issue for Lieberman, mostly because he is uninspiring. His positions are certainly in tune with the vast majority of the electorate. Much more so than Bush or any of the other Democrats.

The Clark thing baffles me. I'm convinced that he is no better candidate than any of the "unserious" three. He stands less chance of winning the presidency than Sharpton. I don't know where he really stands because he does not know. He comes across as a prostitute in the Clinton efforts to assure that Bush wins in 2004 to keep the path clear for Hillary in 2008. Conspiracy theories don't normally interest me, but can you find a better explanation on why a pro-war hawk who had been mostly conservative on social issues suddenly shed a lifetime of beliefs and completely reinvented himself? This guy is not worthy of trust. He's not electable, thank God. The bigger question is why anyone would be willing to take the risk of having such a dishonest man as president.

Dean is the perfect protest candidate for Democrats who know he will lose, but want to make a statement. I like the man, but not his position on national defense. My gut says he would be a good president, but his speeches say otherwise. The Confederate flag comment was clumsy, but the thought behind it is dead right. Edwards' attack of the comment was unreasonable and unfair. William Saletan's comments (http://slate.msn.com/id/2091046/) are on target.

By the way, get Joe Biden into the race. He could beat Bush. Unless he has to so change his positions to satisfy the hard left Democratic base that he also is unelectable.

The landscape for four years after the 2004 election does not look good to me. There is a real risk that Republicans will have a super majority in the Senate, a sizable majority in the House, and the presidency. Courts will be stacked with hard line right wingers for years to come, organized prayers in schools could be brought back, gay rights could be set back, a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning in protest could be enacted, and "Patriot Act II" is almost certain to pass. The religious right, the real nut cases of US politics, will have free reign.

Please do not give us an anti-Iraq war candidate, because he cannot and should not win. Give us someone who honestly agrees with Bush's recent LIBERAL speech on democratization, but holds centrist (or even leftist) positions on domestic affairs.

As I read Atrios, Marshall, Drum, Alterman, etc. daily, the reality of Democratic politics is clear. 2004 is about hate for Bush, not about winning elections. Just like my 1972 vote (! was a registered Democrat then) was about hating Nixon not about electing McGovern. Anyone who believes either Dean or Clark is even remotely electable under any circumstances is practicing self delusion. It cannot happen so close to 9/11. A significant majority of US citizens agree with the Bush position, if not the implementation details, on national defense. Until the threats of radical Islamism are blunted, no anti-war candidate can be elected. Nor are most voters willing to transfer responsibility for our security to the UN, or allow the French to have veto power in that area. The Democratic mantra position that US security measures must be subordinated to "international consensus" will not sell. Not now, and likely not for many years to come.

So, do you want to hate Bush or do you want to have a good chance to win the election? Both are not possible because hate for Bush clouds your mind. It is sad that the debate is framed as "which of these two sure losers should we support?" Dean cannot win, but he can do somewhat better than Clark, who is probably a Republican acting as Clinton's shill (I still see no better explanation for this fruit cake).

It seems to me that the real secret to winning US presidential elections for either party is to make the tent large enough to include a majority of voters. Nominating a candidate who shares the Democratic left's position, and Howard Dean's position on national defense will not work this close to 9/11 because national defense if the over-riding priority of the majority of the electorate. Even if George Soros spent his entire fortune on either Dean or Clark, it would make no difference. Oh, I forgot, please do not give us a candidate who voted against, or said he would have voted against, the $87 billion. He cannot win the election.

So far, the Democratic primary process has played into the hands of Karl Rove. With enemies who are doing more for his cause than his own candidate or his friends. Rove could not wish for more than (1) to have the debates include 7 serious people and two clowns who get equal billing, (2) to see the candidates pushed by the base to extreme positions that will not sell with the electorate especially on national defense, (3) to hear 8 of 9 answer a pot question they should never have answered and to hear Joe Lieberman (the adult in the group) actually say he was sorry he had not used pot, (4) to see Edwards hire a general who said that Clark had ethical issues, (5) to have Kerry and Edwards vote against the $87 billion after voting for the war, (6) to hear Dean, the front runner, say he would repeal even the middle class portion of the tax cuts, (7) (ah, hell, this is too easy, you take the next six). For Karl, this has to be better masturbation material than talking dirty on the phone with Monica.

Stop the Bush hatred NOT because it is hurting him (because it is NOT), but because it is clouding your judgment. It is hurting the Democratic party. It causes rational, patriotic men of good character and normally good judgment, like Kevin Drum, to launch a debate on which sure loser to support. It makes me sad.

Posted by: Wayne Moore at November 12, 2003 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wayne
Interesting comments. But do you think that Lieberman would be kind of like trying to out-Republican the Republicans? I mean: is there a clear difference? (and that difference would have to be to middle America, not partisans)

Given that Bush is a known quantity and Lieberman's positions are not that different, could he really win?

Posted by: Ron at November 12, 2003 01:45 PM | PERMALINK

This comment truly saddens me:

"Without going into tedious detail, just try to imagine that it's April and the $200 million attack machine has geared up."

This country is so far gone that money trumps good ideas.

But I'm afraid that as long as We, the People, allow our minds to be affected by expensive propaganda, as long as the loudest form of communication does not lend itself the conveyance of complicated ideas, our democracy is doomed and GW will have another four years, wherein I'm sure he'll wrap up his looting of the US Treasury, much to the benefit of his cronies.

Posted by: TheVidiot at November 12, 2003 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ron:

Lieberman's policies -- even on Iraq, where they are somehow presumed to be the same as Bush's -- are actually quite different.

First, he is a "robust internationalist" on foreign policy -- not afraid to use force, but determined to work with and through the international community. He has proposed specific steps to involve the U.N. and other countries, both before and after the war.

He thinks success in the world involves using our unequalled diplomatic influence, as well as our economic and military influence.

There's a significant possibility, given recent events, that he is actually to the right of Bush on Iraq, in some respects, and to the left on others. To the right in the sense of agreeing with McCain, Biden, Hagel, and Lugar that we need to be fully committed to success in Iraq and that we shouldn't start drawing down troops. To the left in the sense of internationalizing the political side of the occupation and getting help in building a new Iraqi government. (That concession on the political side would surely help us get more help on the military side.)

Some Democrats call Lieberman "Bush-lite" mainly, in my view, because they're so caught up in the opinions at their end of the spectrum that they're unable to distinguish a moderate from a conservative.

It's a pattern both sides fall into -- looking at those in the middle as "really" belonging to the other side whenever we differ in substantial ways from their views.

Posted by: William Swann at November 12, 2003 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, Beating Bush next year will be very difficult for anyone. The real issue is, "Can Lieberman avoid the Greens fielding a candidate?" His issue is on the left. Also, there is a narrow but deep anti-Jewish faction in the academic community of the far left that may sit it out. Add to that the openly anti-Sematic positions of some of the black leaders, especially Sharpton and "Hymietown" Jackson. Reluctently, I conclude that Joe Biden is the better candidate, while Lieberman may be the better man.

Hold the base and get the majority of swing voters. My OPINION is that Biden stands the best chance of election, but Lieberman is the best of the current candidates. My BELIEF is that most of us swing voters are social liberals, economic conservatives or moderates, and strong on national defense (what Andrew Sullivan calls Eagles). We will not vote for Bush when there is a good option available. The issue is his social coservatism and specifically his ties to the religious right.

It is possible that we are watching the death of the Democratic party. Death by suicide! Some believe the Libertarians (Losertarians?) will replace them as the second party. I have strong Libertarian tendencies myself, and I could imagine that happening. Whatever happens, it is ironic that hate has become the single focus of the old leftist Democratic base. Read some of Alterman, Marshall, and Krugman to see what I mean. Alderman and Krugman have gone far over the edge and Marshall is teetering.

Let's not overlook the destructive actions of the Clinton's in the whole process. The driver is personal political gain, not idiology. Susan Estrich talks of them "sucking the oxygen" from the process. McAuliffe must be replaced. Soon! He is damaging the party on behalf of the Clintons. I suspect that Clark is a pawn in their efforts to clear the field for Hillary in 2008. Whether that is true or not, he's the biggest nut case to enter the national stage in years.

Posted by: Wayne Moore at November 12, 2003 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

What an education. You're kidding yourselves. I know it's a bitter pill for you, but most of the country does not hate and look down on Bush the way you do. This distorts your view of what is going on now and what will happen later. What is going on now is that nine democrat candidates cannot (refuse to?) collectively or individually articulate a foreign policy capable of eliminating the threat from a worldwide stew of irrational killers. PC wishful thinking about the brotherhood of nations will mean nothing when a dirty bomb takes out 20,000 in Chicago. The nine democrats cannot articulate an economic policy that has any purpose other than expanding the already bloated belly of the federal government. All they can do, apparently is carp and whine and lie about the past, which does nothing to convince the average voter that they can be trusted with the life and death challenges facing America. What else is going on: the tax cuts are working, the economy is growing, and the nine have nothing left to say about economics except for their plans to spend even more on entitilements and their vengeful diatribes about the rich.

But none of this will make any sense to you. You can't see it at all. It's not the world you live in. Your world is stuck back in November 2000, glued to the date Bush "stole" the election by refusing to let Gore steal it. And back in November 2000, there was no 9/11, there was no Republican majority in the senate, there weren't 30 Republican governors, and the nations of Libya and Cuba weren't sitting on the Human Rights Commission of the U.N. you trust so much more than the United States.

So maybe it'll work. In your world, maybe, you can run the 2004 election in the year 2000, and Dean or Clark can pick up the fallen standard from Gore and Clinton, and continue with the great NASDAQ bubble, and maunder on about free healthcare
for everyone on the planet, courtesy of the 50 percent of Americans who actually pay income taxes.

Have at it. Good luck.

Posted by: SigmaZrn at November 12, 2003 02:34 PM | PERMALINK

THE OREGONIAN (Portland, OR)
November 9, 2003

Daivd Reinhard: WHY DEAN CAN WIN NEXT NOVEMBER

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/david_reinhard/index.ssf?/base/editorial/106829671744920.xml

"Let us not be fooled by misguided conventional wisdom. [Howard] Dean is a threat and Republicans better not ignore him."

The latest press release from the "Dean for President" campaign? Fresh political insight from the lefties at The Nation magazine? Michael Moore or Al Franken's recent rantings?

No, this is the considered judgment of two respected Republican pollsters -- Bob Moore and Hans Kaiser -- from Portland's Moore Information. Their Oct. 6 memo should be a welcome read (www.moore-info.com) when Dean visits here Tuesday.

"Howard Dean can win because he believes in what he is saying, because he can semi-legitimately spin his record as governor into one of fiscal conservatism, and because he comes across as if he actually cares about people . . ." they wrote, continuing a bit later: "The difference between Howard Dean and the rest of the Democratic candidates is that Dean comes across as a true believer to the base but he will not appear threatening to folks in the middle."

Question: Have Moore and Kaiser spent too much time in Portland's espresso bars and organic-food co-ops?

I don't think so. Their memo may raise more questions than it answers, but when GOP pollsters of their caliber make a case like this, Republicans and Democrats -- and not just Democratic Deanies -- should take notice.

I've thought for a while that the former Vermont governor deserves the Democratic nomination. He's the exquisite embodiment of Democratic values today. He's opposed to "George Bush's war" and was before it became hip within the party. And he wants a total repeal of "George Bush's tax cuts." You'll see a pattern here, and it forms the overarching theme of today's Democratic partisans: barely contained anger toward President Bush and his works.

Dean is angry and, unlike the other Democratic candidates, the anger is authentic. Indeed, it's almost raw. Democrats deserve a presidential candidate who represents, as Dean says, "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Small wonder he has shot to the front of the Democratic pack, and managed to stay there.

I also think he would be a tough foe for Bush next fall. It's going to be a close race, and having a fired-up up base can only help Democrats. I wonder how Dean's anger will play over a long race and among non-Democrats, but authentic is good in presidential candidates. Bill Clinton was gifted enough to fake it twice, while Al Gore lost running on inauthentic.

"The potential for the economy to remain sluggish . . . and conditions in the Middle East are impossible to predict," Moore and Kaiser wrote. "Should these situations remain status quo or worsen, America will be looking for someone new . . . who can shake America out of the doldrums and reinvigorate the body politic. Dean would provide solutions and excitement where the other Democrats . . . are not as convincing because they don't have the perceived conviction of a Howard Dean."

The two pollsters do some Electoral College math and conclude "a Dean candidacy is a lot more realistic than people think." They figure he could claim enough electoral votes to win the White House without Florida.

But won't Republicans paint him as a hopeless "left-winger"? The prospect makes many Republicans giddy and Democrats who fret about Dean's electability jittery. Moore and Kaiser counter with a parallel that will likely fluster Republicans and Democrats:

"Dean's appeal is closer to Ronald Reagan's than any other Democrat running today. . . . The Democratic party used to chuckle about Reagan and his gaffes, which they believed would marginalize him to the far-right dustbin of history. But when his opponents tried to attack him for some of his more outlandish statements, the folks in the middle simply ignored them. Voters . . . looked to the bigger picture, where they saw a man of conviction who cared about them and had solutions for their problems."

Moore says he's never had more reaction to a memo. Tellingly, almost all Republicans -- fellow pollsters and clients -- thought the memo was dead-on. And they were dead serious.

Howard Dean as Ronald Reagan? Republicans who think Howard Dean can win the White House? It all might drive Democrats to distraction.

Posted by: Donald at November 12, 2003 02:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wayne
First, somebody pointed out to me that Nader got a lot less of the vote than I thought (couple or three percent), and it also seems that if the Greens had not voted for Nader they would have stayed home and still not voted for Gore. So I'm no longer sure that the Dems have to cover for the Greens.

Second, I see the anger too. I had that anger against Clinton, so I have no room to pound them. And I would like to see a viable Dem party, the Repubs did pretty well as the minority party but the wheels are falling off of them now they are in the majority. They need the competition.


Posted by: Ron at November 12, 2003 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

About that Dean electibility thing. Here are a
few "lefties" who disagree.

Posted by: daryl at November 12, 2003 04:31 PM | PERMALINK

I see that those brain-dead idiots at SEIU and AFSCME have decided to jointly endorse The Unelectable One. Doesn't anyone in their leaderships read Calpundit?? Geez.

Posted by: Frederick at November 12, 2003 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

Daryl and Donald, I'll bet Karl Rove agrees also.

Posted by: Wayne Moore at November 12, 2003 08:31 PM | PERMALINK

William Swann:

On Dean: It's funny, it's obvious that your site and my site looked at the exact same Dean position, and came away with different emphases. As did we! Because Dean is running for President, and not Senator, I see that he was willing to commit the $87 billion. Allowing Iraq to become a lawless state (cf. Somalia, Afghanistan) would be an utter disaster. Your source was more interested in the fact that Dean would refuse to vote for Bush's $87 bn, where the money came out of thin air. I can understand that, too. I think many of the votes against the bill came from people who were treating it as a no-confidence type vote in Bush, except that we don't have a parliamentary form of democracy. I think a senator convinced that Bush was botching the job, and would continue to botch it even with the money, would be in a very hard spot. On balance, I think one should vote the money, but it's necessary to extract as much from the Administration as possible.

On Lieberman:
Although I think that Lieberman was dead wrong on initiating the Iraq War, I'm more concerned with other elements of his campaign. (1) His move to the right on Israeli settlements, where we need a Nixon-visits-China message sent to Ariel Sharon, (2) His and Gore's overly gracious concession over Florida, and (3) even allowing that the Demo base is left-skewed, aren't there enough moderates remaining that the failure of his campaign to generate any enthusiasm speaks to something more than policy disagreements?

Howard Dean surged into the front not because of his left-leaning positions (save Iraq) excited the base (NRA A+ rating?!), but because he seemed like the only candidate who wasn't scared of and/or had already been outfoxed by the incumbent.

Incidentally, don't forget to check out the new Calpundit thread on the validity of the Iraq First, Everywhere Else Later neo-con dream.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 12, 2003 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, Nader's 2% cost Gore many electoral votes. Florida was the most obvious. The Democrats MUST protect their base in 2004. They need to convince their base that defeating Bush is more important than continuing to feed their rage.

The Republican anger/hate was stupid. It was the reason I voted for Clinton in 1996. Although it was as rabid as the current Democrats' mental health issue, we never saw things like Clinton=Stalin (the equivalent of the Bush=Hitler mantra). On the other hand, Bush has not had to face impeachment. The Democrats do not have the power even if they could find/fabricate the case. Clinton handed the Republicans their heads again and again. Bush is even better at the game than Clinton.

Many Democrats continue to underestimate Bush. It has become humorous to see the man they consider mentally challenged outsmart them again and again. They lose 100% of the time! And it angers them more. Republicans never made the mistake of underestimating Clinton. Many Democrats do not understand they are trying to defeat a politician that is more adept in many ways than Clinton while playing Bush's game by Bush's rules. It's like a boxer who gets off the deck for the 10th time still believing his untouched opponent is just a lucky hack. Clinton was far smarter than the angry Republicans, and Bush is far smarter than the angry Democrats.

The most important difference, however, concerns 9/11. Political dynamics have changed. The US is being challenged in a way it never has before by a new type of enemy. Bush get a pass from the electorate which only war time presidents enjoy.

After his first two years Clinton always faced a Republican House. The country benefited from the resulting "gridlock". If Bush is reelected, and he will be of course unless the Democratic base controls its anger, his coat tails will probably increase his majority in Congress. A super majority in the more deliberative Senate is a possibility. While Republicans talk a good game on fiscal responsibility, they are horrid at achieving it. Fiscal responsibility in today's world requires executive-legislative gridlock. We need a strong Democratic party. The country is very poorly served by the Republicans being in control of both branches.

Finally, let's take on the issue of money in politics. My libertarian roots cause me to recoil at campaign finance laws. Real world experience indicate they do not work. John McCain, of fame for his illegal participation in the Keating affair, convinced Democrats and a few Republicans to support a law that gave the Republicans a distinct fund raising advantage. The issue is not money in politics, it is crooks in politics. The two parties and their candidates will spend a total of $3 per registered voter on the 2004 presidential elections and the primaries leading up to them. Much of that money will be spent on staff and travel, not ads. That's not a lot of money. The law passed in 2001 will not reduce the total; it will have little impact.

Posted by: Wayne Moore at November 12, 2003 09:29 PM | PERMALINK

Wayne
I know that this really isn't worth getting into a large discussion about, but my point is that Nader did not cost Gore any electoral votes. The Greens would have stayed home if they didn't have Nader to vote for. (Exit poll results here).

And I think I largely agree with the rest.

Posted by: Ron at November 13, 2003 06:07 AM | PERMALINK
Republicans never made the mistake of underestimating Clinton.
Joking? Like when Newt Crybaby Gingrich shut down the government and came out looking silly.

Repubs underestimated WJC all the time, including his wiggling out of conviction after impeachment.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 13, 2003 06:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let's shift gears for a minute and talk about campaigns instead of individual candidates. Who has a campaign that is capable of beating Bush? Is it Clark? I think he has raised all of about $5 million and his campaign has been in disarray. Bush's campaign will crush him like an insect. Dean's campaign has raised millions of dollars in mainly small contributions and he has over 100,000 volunteers. Nobody else has a cmapign machine like Dean has. Like him or not, he is the only candidate who stands a chance at beating Bush. If you're like me and you're an ABB (Anybody But Bush) voter, then that means supporting Dean. If you want four more years of Bush, support somebody else.

Posted by: Big Tex at November 13, 2003 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ron,

Nader cost Gore Florida, because the margin there was so close that even if only a miniscule percentage of Nader voters had gone for Gore it would have swung the state. However, I think that's about it - and that only happened due to the unprecedented, freakish closeness of that state's results.

Without going back to the numbers, I'd guess that since the support for a hypothetical Green candidacy would probably be concentrated disproportionately in states that are pretty safe Dem, the actual impact of their spoiler effect would likely be even smaller than the 1% or whatever that they would get overall. Basically, the Greens are the one of the last things the Dems should be worrying about at this point, especially since going after that tiny percentage of votes would cost them votes in the middle.

Big Tex,

Dean's organization is very big deal in the primaries, but the general election is a different story. No doubt it'll also help in November, but it won't be even close to sufficient, and if the candidate turns out to have serious liabilities, it won't compensate for them.

Posted by: N V at November 13, 2003 08:17 AM | PERMALINK

NV
True about Florida, but then if an election worker with a cold sneezed on a pile of ballots it could have swung that one.

And it would be a miniscule portion going to Gore. According to the exit poll results about 3% of Nader voters would have voted Bush, about 6% for Gore, and about 91% would stay home. That is a net gain of 3% of Nader voters, or about .08% of total. (the breakdown for Florida alone did not have all the required figures, so these calculations are from national figures)

While this may well have been enough to swing Florida in 2000, it isn't the kind of numbers the Dems would want to base a campaign strategy on.

Posted by: Ron at November 13, 2003 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Haven't read all 300+ posts word for word, but here are some observations:

1. Some posters think that Dean can easily win all the states Gore won, plus Florida. This doesn't jive with the most recent election results. After 2000, the Democrats vowed to defeat Jeb after the Florida debacle. The reality is that Jeb won rather handily, and his (and his brother's) popularity is high. It's higher than "Bloody Bob" Graham's...for those of you who are tempted to think that Graham on the ticket would mean a win for the Dems in Florida. Florida will be a tough one for the Dems.

2. There's an interesting article on The Hill about recent polls showing the swing states (which went for Gore in 2000) becoming more Republican. You may not agree with it, but if it's true, it spells big trouble for the Dems. I don't see Howard Dean picking up any of Bush's states.

3. Clark strong on defense? I'm not ready to elect a guy who was willing to fight the Russians in Kosovo. I haven't seen an effective rebuttal to that one yet. It keeps getting mentioned, and it keeps getting ignored. If Clark is on the ballot in '04, (either slot) you won't be able to ignore it. And when Republicans mention it in ads, Dems will whine about "attack ads"...when in reality it is a perfectly legitimate issue that is fair game.

4. You may think this is crazy, but I think it's the Dem. establishment that wants people to believe that Dean is not electable. (btw, I really do believe that Bush wants to run against Dean). Here's why: Hillary says she won't run in '04, but would consider a run in '08. Well, the big problem with Hillary running in '08 is that it assumes that Bush is re-elected. Picture the scenario most of you fantasize about: Dean wins in '04. But that pushes Hillary back to '12. She may not want to wait that long. And then she'd likely be running against Dean's VP...again not a positive scenario for her. If Dean is painted as unelectable by the Dem establishment, but no other candidate can get traction, maybe it opens the door for Hillary in '04.

Of course, it could be Dean/Clinton. Hey...you think Bush has a big war chest now?

Posted by: Robert at November 13, 2003 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'd lilke to see Rove try to convince us that an ex-wrestler with a neck like a tree trunk is a weak lib.

Dean lacks the pencil necked geek look so helpful to the task of smearing a Democrat as weak.

Posted by: Joey Giruad at November 13, 2003 01:04 PM | PERMALINK

If Dean's reading Calpundit (as he should be)then he's got to feel good either way. What other democrat is generating this type of response? Pro or con we're talking about Dean and the comment board is lit up. Howard is on a roll and I'm not even a Dean supporter that may change.

Posted by: daryl at November 13, 2003 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

Let me begin by saying that until the last couple of weeks I counted myself among the anyone-but-Dean faction of the Democratic Party, fearing what many posters here believe (quite possibly rightly) will be a brutally awful general in 04. (I was one of those that supported the effort(s) to draft Wesley Clark, until he opened his mouth). I've effectively resigned myself to what I believe is the inevitability of nominee Dean, but I also believe *adamantly* that Dean will be viewed in hindsight as the man who resurrected the Democratic Party in much the same way that Goldwater resurrected the Republican Party at the end of the New Deal era. Let me explain. As our great political prophet (and national treasure) Kevin Phillips has pointed out, there have been a series of pivotal elections in American history, each about a generation apart, that wholly re-shaped the political, economic, and cultural landscape. The last three of these elections were in 1896, 1932, and 1968, and each of the political eras to follow these elections played out in a rather predictable fashion (at least in hindsight). The first of these eras, from 1896 to 1932, was dominated by Republican presidencies, and indeed by Republican ideas - lower taxes, less government - you know the drill. All this came to an end after the 1929 crash, and the deflationary spiral that followed. The subsequent political era - the "New Deal" era (1932-68) - was of course dominated not only by Democratic presidencies but by Democratic ideas - government is needed to regulate the markets and can be a force for social change, etc, etc. As we all know, the "New Deal" era came to an end in the late 1960s on a rising tide of inflation, crime, and a southern backlash to civil rights. (The significance of Vietnam is exaggerated). Of course, in the closing years of the New Deal era (particularly in Kennedy's last year and throughout the Johnson years) the conventional wisdom among the news media was that the Democrats would control everything until at least the second coming. Words like "permanent Democratic majority" were routinely bandied about by the press, much as they are today about Republicans. (Indeed, Janet Cooke of the LA Times used that very phrase - "permanent majority" - a few months ago). They (with the exception of Kevin Phillips, who saw the Republican era coming) were wrong then and they're wrong now. What we are likely witnessing are the closing years of the Republican political era that began in 1968, which is to say Dean will likely come to be regarded in retrospect as more like Goldwater than McGovern, meaning just slightly ahead of his time. Dean will I believe receive the Democratic nomination, and will as I said I believe be defeated (perhaps by a wide electoral margin) by George W. Bush in the general, but *Deanism* (whatever that may come to be - that's a debate worth having) will I suspect be the template for a new Democratic majority that emerges in 2008 and beyond, much as Goldwater was soundly defeated in 64 but Goldwaterism became the template for the Republican majority that began to emerge after 1968. In each of the three political (and overlapping economic and cultural) eras since 1896, the opposition party has tended to require almost two decades before they realize that their ideas have become unfashionable, and begin to move to the center in order to become electable again. In the first political era, it took the Democrats from 1896 to 1912 before they abandoned left-wing populism and embraced the centrist Woodrow Wilson. Likewise with the Republicans from 1932 to 1952, when they finally buried the hatchet and embraced Eisenhower. Likewise too with the Democrats from 1968 to (stunningly) 1992, when they embraced Bill Clinton. (Let's face it, the only reason Carter was elected was because of Watergate, and Ford's pardon of Nixon). What tends to happen in the final decade of any political era in American history is a more extreme recapitulation of the dominant ideology. In the 1896-1932 era, it was the cowboy capitalism of Harding and Coolidge. In the New Deal era, it was the quasi-socialism of Kennedy and to an even greater extent Johnson. And in the current era it is of course Mr. Bush's unsavory blend of supply side economics, neo-imperialism, and religious fundamentalism. What also tends to happen (particularly in the first four years of the last two presidential election cycles..this is where the Dean/Goldwater comparison comes in) of the last decade of a political era is that the opposition party has a knock down drag out brawl for its own soul, between moderate accomodationists and ideological purists. In each case, the purists won. We saw it in the 1920s between the Wilsonites and the liberals, in the 1960s between the Eisenhower and Goldwater wings of the Republican Party, and now between the "third way" Clintonistas (or the anyone-but-Dean crowd) and the liberal Deanies. Judging from history, I believe Dean will win the nomination, and indeed judging from history, and lose next November, but a more apt comparison would be between George Mc Govern and Alf Landon (the Republican nominee in 1936), both of whom ran as ideological purists at the beginning of their respective political eras, and between Dean and Goldwater, both of whom (I believe) will be regarded as ideological purists at the end of their respective political eras, and pre-saged the revival of their own party.


Posted by: The Red Avenger at November 13, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

This doesn't jive with the most recent election results. After 2000, the Democrats vowed to defeat Jeb after the Florida debacle. The reality is that Jeb won rather handily

Yeah. but do you remember against who? Do you remember Elian Gonzalez being picked up by something that looked like a SWAT team, practically at gunpoint, on her very orders? Do you remember what that meant to the Cuban-Americans in Miami?

That election was pissed away. It indicates nothing about Democratic prospects in Florida. And I know Florida.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 13, 2003 08:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'll make it short: you are just making shit up. You have no idea if Dean is electable, or Clark. You live in California, you are educated, you like cats.

And I don't know either. That's the truth. And you know why you and I don't know? Because, beyond the shared liability of liking cats, we don't know what Iraq or the economy will look like in 11/04. We just don't. And that means everything.

But I know Dean will fight. Boy, will he fight. And he will raise unbelievable sums of money, more even than $200 million*. And he will not let himself be defined by Rove, I know that too. And Rove will work harder than he ever had to. And it has to be done if the Democratic party is to ever recover, and that is plenty more than I expect from any other candidate, Clark included.

*Remember this, I'll bet on it.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 13, 2003 09:04 PM | PERMALINK

M. Aurelius: the Eliá mess preceded the 2000 election; I don't think it helped Jeb. What helped Jeb was a Democratic opponent with insufficient anger and verve and a totally unrealistic education plan. (There was no money to pay for it.) I realize that gubernatorial elections don't resonate to the same beat as national, but I'd chalk it up to the generic failure of Democrats' small-ball strategy.

Red Avenger: Great post; I agree about Dean's role in the party. But if there is a god in heaven, we can skip the Goldwater election and go straight to Reagan 1980.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 13, 2003 09:18 PM | PERMALINK

OK, it's scary. It's scary nominating someone like Dean, who's not the party insider candidate. It's scary nominating the governor of Vermont. It defies all the conventional wisdom. But when you see Dean's campaign steamroller over all the more conventional primary candidates, you've got to admit the conventional wisdom ain't working this time. His message is clear. It resonates. And his campaign organization is simply awesome. This year, he's the one. There's no reason we can't go out and grab those moderates. Bush is the most radical, rabid right-winger we've had since...well, ever. Sometimes you've just got to have faith, hold your breath and jump.

Posted by: Sally at November 14, 2003 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew, I do think it hurt Janet Reno in Miami. But you are right she ran a poor campaign generally and she would have probably lost for other reasons. You don't specifiy, but it sounds like you agree with me that her loss is not a good indicator of Florida in 2004. Obviously it won't be the easiest state, but it can be won. Florida is also not that responsive to standard southern demographics, with all those Cubans and Northeastern retirees. It's the sort of state where a solid ground operation can make a big diference.

Reagan in 1980 would be a good thing to hope for. I think Dean will be very dificult to fight because the Republicans will not be able to use their standard toolkit. He is running a campaign a lot of people do not fully understand, not just on the Democrat side. Clark, OTOH, will be totally predictable. He is using conventional-wisdom old hands. People Rove understands. The analogy with Reagan is that the Democrats never really understood his appeal. Dean is the same way. There are some really weird mixes of Dean supporters out there, not the least because Dean himself is a weird mix. Clark is much simpler, linear. A West Point overachiver. Three words and you've said everything, which means he can be attacked easier: undermine his military record using his early retirement. Force him to defend and explain that, over and over. The Wurlitzer can do it, and it will kill him.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 14, 2003 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

To back up, the Red Avenger:

I had similar feelings about Dean, but I've come to the conclusion that Bush is probably not going to be beaten by any Democrat - Dean, Lieberman, Gephardt, and so on. I've come around to a Dean candidacy, however, because I think it is important the Democrats define themselves as standing for something. It is not to say that other Democrats don't do this, but Howard Dean is the only Democratic candidate I have seen in recent memory who seems to be able to clearly enunciate what a Democrat is.

However, this does not mean I think he has a good chance of beating Bush. To the contrary, in fact. But I don't think the current Democratic strategy - so obviously a failure in 2002 - is tenable. Essentially, the Democrats have been treading water for a generation, trying to cobble together an unstable majority by political cross-dressing and me-tooism. The Democrats are clearly a minority party, and the electoral math in this country has not favored them since 1968. But remember, many pundits thought the Republican Party and conservative ideas were dead several times this century - particularly during the mid-1930s and mid-1960s. For historical reference, read some of the editorials written in the wake of the Goldwater debacle in 1964.

Personally, I've found the Dean/McGovern comparison problematic. Indeed, I think the Dean/Goldwater one is more operable, particularly when one considers the nature of their campaigns and their personal styles. Goldwater, like Dean, was notoriously gaffe prone (read Rick Perlstein's book), but was also combative and principled - which hurt his party in the short run, but was beneficial in the longer term.

Additionally, I have the growing suspicion that the Iraq War is headed towards debacle status, whether or not we commit more money and troops (which, I think, we really have no option but to do at this point) and that the current fiscal situation is going to explode within the next 10 years - do you realize how great this country's indebtedness to foreign creditors is? I'm quite firmly convinced things are going to get quite ugly by the end of this decade.

When the current Republican majority has blown its wad - which is frankly an historical inevitably in a democracy, whether in 4 years, 6 years or whatever, I have the growing sense that Democrats and liberals will ultimately be glad they embraced Dean and the movement he is building, warts and all.

Face it, Dems - the South is a lost cause (no pun intended), 9/11 has temporarily solidified and extended Republican electoral superiority. However, this won't be the case forever, perhaps not even by 2008.

Three points in closing:
1- the Repubs posting here a right - drop the Bush hatred its shrill and self-defeating, as well as intellectually suspect.
2 - the American people aren't stupid, many are just uninformed - theres a big difference here.
3 - the world will not end if Bush is reelected

Posted by: Ben P. at November 14, 2003 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Clark v. Cleland.

The issue isn't whether Cleland lost because he had a military record. It's that Clark has a *directly pertinent and up-to-date* military record including large scale operations and command structures. Cleland and Kerry (and even GWB) left the military 30 years ago as lower level officers. Clark ran the most recent war before OIF which is within the attention span of anyone over the age of 24.

In that respect, his military record does count for something - plus the overall fact that his lifetime is pretty much accounted for. There aren't gaps in his service record or discipline problems or anything like that which could potentially pop up as a surprise for most other civilian politicians. That is, if you trust the military records beauracracy!!

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