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How Clark Could Win the Nomination (continued)

Yesterday, DR argued that the lack of true frontrunner in this race provides Clark with a potential opening for a successful campaign. As long as this situation continues, the contest will remain fluid (despite Dean’s money, etc.) and there’s room for Clark to press his case, widen his base among Democrats and eventually develop a serious lead in the polls–in other words, for him to become the frontrunner.

But it won’t be easy; he’ll need a focused and innovative campaign strategy to pull it off. Here’s DR’s 5 point plan for such a strategy.

1. Work the Electability Angle. The one thing that all Democrats agree on today, and agree on passionately, is the need to beat Bush. Clark is a substantially stronger candidate to do so and he shouldn’t be shy about saying so. Dean is vulnerable on national security in a way Clark simply isn’t. And–less talked about, but potentially just as serious–Dean is vulnerable on taxes. His position that all of the Bush’s tax cuts should be repealed, including the middle class tax cuts, is potential target practice for the GOP in the general election, as every recent poll confirms. Clark, judging from his position on Bush’s tax cuts so far, will not have that liability.

Of course, it’s not just about saying you’re more electable; it should flow from your positions. For example, Clark is intrinsically more credible than Dean on national security and Iraq, but he still needs a compelling plan in this area and catchy way of conveying it (“I will to go to Iraq”?). The more Democratic primary voters believe he has such a plan, the more his superior electability to Dean will be underscored.

2. Break Through in the South. Clark will need some quick victories after New Hampshire to get his campaign rolling. His best shots will be in southern states like South Carolina, where the most recent poll shows him leading the pack, and, generally, in states where highly-educated, socially liberal activists are likely to have less weight. This is how Clinton broke through in 1992, after his early defeats by Tsongas.

3. Go for the Noncollege Crowd. And, speaking of education, Clark should try to keep Dean in the “Starbucks ghetto” of college-educated voters Ron Brownstein wrote about the other day. Dean’s demonstrated weakness among noncollege voters can become Clark’s strength. These voters will be attracted to the general for patriotic/national security reasons and probably for cultural reasons as well, since Dean, fairly or unfairly, tends to be viewed as very socially liberal. And he shouldn’t forget the populist card; as Harold Meyerson has pointed out, that was a key to Clinton’s success among these voters in 1992.

4. Go for independents and Republicans. Naturally, most voters in Democratic primaries are Democrats, but surprising numbers of independents and even Republicans vote in these primaries as well due to open primaries and loose primary voting procedures. According to a recent paper by William Mayer, the proportion of Democratic primary voters who are independents or Republicans has varied between one-fifth and one-third since 1976 (1996 excluded since there were no competitive primaries). It seems fair to say that these voters are a great target for Clark and the more of them that vote, the better off he’ll be.

5. Work the Arithmetic. The fact of the matter is that winning a primary by 1 percent has little mathematical advantage to a candidate–all delegates awarded through primaries and caucuses are awarded on a proportional basis (i.e., 20 percent of the vote gets you 20 percent of delegates). So, at least technically, Dean could win every primary and, depending on who stays in the race and how well they do, he could go into the convention with far below 50 percent of the delegates.

And just to make things more interesting, Dean would actually need 61 percent of the delegates awarded by primaries and caucuses to be assured of nomination. This is because there are 796 superdelegates who technically can vote for anyone they want to–including Wes Clark of course.

So Clark should work this complicated system by competing with Dean (and others) for delegates throughout the primary process and working the superdelegates for as many votes as he can, starting now. Then, even if Clark doesn’t pull away from Dean during the primaries, provided Dean is kept below 2,160 delegates from the primaries, Clark still has a shot through a brokered convention.

Will DR’s 5 point plan assure Clark of the nomination? Hardly. But at this point, he needs an approach that will maximize his chances and that’s what this plan tries to do.

Comments

Starbucks Ghetto, man, that hurts. As a college-educated fellow living in New York, I far prefer Cafe Reggio. Or uptown on w 71st and Amst is a great little Italian cafe that plays opera all day.

Ruy, I know your main concern is targeting the undecided middle and I really think you're right, but may I suggest that the top four or five dem candidates are so outstanding that we have an embarassment of riches?

And that if they are supported whole heartedly by the party, any one of them could be positioned to be electable?

And that rather than emphasizing divisiveness and differences between these candidates, the strategy should always be focused on defeating Bush with the implicit understanding that whomever actually wins the nomination, the other Dems will play a significant role in helping our country recover from Bush?

I advance these suggestions hesitantly, 'cause I know you are more knowledgeable about how politics really works. But what I do know is that never, in my 51 years, have I seen so many riled up people, furious at Bush and eager for the country to reverse course from a dangerous radicalism.

And lets not forget something: Starbucks owes its roots to the blue collar. It was the demand many years ago by sleepy truckdrivers for better coffee that helped start the gourmet coffee pandemic. I was amazed during a visit to Washington State 15 years ago that the truckstops offered up lattes and cappuccino.

If you want to keep Dean in the "Starbucks ghetto" the way to do this is NOT to trash him for saying he would like to have the votes of the guys with the Confederate flags in the back of their pickups as just about every other "Anybody but Dean" candidate from Lieberman to Sharpton did - every ABD other than Clark, that is, who, as far as I can tell, said nothing on the "issue" and that's better than what the others said. So lets credit Dean with awareness of his Starbucks ghetto problem and his taking steps to get beyond it, and credit Clark for not putting his foot in his mouth as the others did.

Hopefully it won't come down to Clark winning by this plan. If I understand it correctly, Clark would get through the primaries with a minority of delegates and a minority of votes, a significant number of those from Republicans. He would then "work the system" to pull in enough superdelegates to win the nomination. While this would be a "win", it doesn't seem to have much legitimacy, particularly to people who still believe that the 2000 election was "stolen". While I don't necessarily believe playing to the base is the best approach, this could come across too much like betrayal.

Remember that "work the arithmetic" is only one of Ruy's points. And I think the point is that winning delegates is more important than "winning" states.

Right now, no candidate has more than about 15 percent national support, and the top five are all pretty close together. However, Clark and Dean are the ones showing the most dynamism. Gep is hanging in there, and Kerry and Lieberman seem to be fading.

Most of Roy's points are aimed at allowing Clark to scoop up more support than Dean as other candidates fall by the wayside. The optimum - for Clark - is that Dean hits a "Starbuck's ceiling" at about 30 percent or so as we go into Super Tuesday, with Clark scooping up the lion's share of the rest, and ending up with a clear majority of the elected delegates.

Second best is for Clark to have a plurality of the elected delegates, with the superdelegates then putting him over the top.

I share your concern about what happens if Dean ends up with a small plurality of elected delegates, and the superdelegates (plus released delegates of dropout candidates) throw it to Clark. A lot of Dean supporters may feel they've been Florida'd.

But my gut feeling is that if Clark keeps hitting on all cylinders, as he's starting to do, he'll end up with a clear lead over Dean, and that nearly all Dean supporters will accept that he won it fair and square.


On another point, I agree wholeheartedly that it is both smart and wise for Clark to stay the hell away from the Dean confederate-flag flap.

-- Rick Robinson

Ruy, I don't get how you can simultaneously proclaim that all the serious Dems are electable while arguing that Clark should sell his own superior electability. Which is it?

Frankly, I dispute that Clark has any such superior electability. All elections turn on economic issues, and Clark's domestic resume is nonexistent. Secondly, he has demonstrated already a tendency to respond weakly to smears from the Richard Mellon Scaife crowd. Dean, with his combativeness, at least offers the opportunity of putting those people on the defensive. That is the only way of keeping them from whittling our nominee down to nothing.

I think Teixera nails it here on electability. He's got numbers to back up his argument. Maybe those I-male numbers will change; I don't think so, I think this is a personality issue. I don't even think Dean's tax position relative to the others is that well known yet, which would greatly affect the I-male voters.

Dean is clearly less electable than Clark if only because of his ill advised position on the tax cut. Dean likes to think of himslef as savy as Bill Clinton. But Clinton would have left himself an out on the middle class portion of the tax cut. Why Dean didn't have the forsight to realize this would be a problem reveals a lot about his abilities in the general election. On the tax cut you can clearly objectively say that Dean is less electable than Clark and some of the others too. When you add the credibility on national security (which will be paramount) Clark is the clear choice for the ABB crowd.

"I will go to Iraq?" What do you want Clark to do when gets there? Make a speech? Do a photo op? Maybe lead a charge?

Its warmed over Ike and it was a stupid line when Ike used the "I will go to Korea" gambit. Neither Bush nor Rove nor Dean is Adlai Stevenson, so you can be sure the General would get clobbered if he used that trite line.

Also saying Dean is unelectable doesn't make him unelectable, no matter how much Clarkies want it to be. You need to prove Dean is unelectable by beating him. Period.

"Electability," huh? *Yawn*

I like Clark, but if he wants to win my support (& my checkbook), he'd be well advised to avoid bashing other Democrats with Karl Rove's talking points. I hope he's better than that.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! The current state of the country is precisely because Democrats have refused to stand their ground.

Instead of having some backbone and explaining why taxes are necessary, we duck and cover. I want to live in a country that has a certain basic set of values. values about human dignity, about community, about working together.

I want to live in a society were we all agree that people have a right to an education, a right to a minimum level of health care, a right to live free of the fear of disease and hunger.

The only way to get that is through an involved government supported by taxes, and I'm more than willin to pay my share of them. When I hear candidates saying "I'll repeal the tax cuts for the wealthiest, but leave the cuts for the middle class", I hear, "I'll say and do anything to get elected"

Here's a thought, Republicans have won on the tax issue because an overwhleming number of people either believe they are in top 1%, or expect to be in the near future (something like 19-20%). We need to explain that in order to acheive their goals owealth and comfort, they're going to need the help of government, particularly in the form of K-12 *AND* Higher Education. This costs money, but is worth the investment.

Give a voter the choice between taxes and no taxes, and no taxes will win. Give the voter the choice between taxes, and an education and health care, and you see a sea change in public opinion.

When we talk about "Electability" like this we are not measuring a candidate's strengths, we are measuring his/her weakness of character.

The big fact to keep in mind is that Dean polls in single digits across the South. This means he'd have a very hard time beating Bush, whether you like it or not. I see no harm in Clark emphasizing he'd be competitive across the country. The confed flag flap makes Dean look patronizing to some Southern Dems, racist to others. Alas, so does making a big issue of it.

"Dean would actually need 61 percent of the delegates awarded by primaries and caucuses to be assured of nomination. This is because there are 796 superdelegates who technically can vote for anyone they want to–including Wes Clark of course."

-->But do superdelegates vote in ways that do not represent their home areas? Superdelegates traditionally vote in the same way that their constituents, and home areas do. This is trying sooooo hard to push Clark over the top, it's almost shamefully silly.

The amorphous monolith is what the South appears to be to most pundits. How many pundits would have predicted there is not a white male in the race for LA governor! Additionally, the polls favorability ratings have Dean and Clark even for the most part. Clark is just better known.

Oh yeah, if we get all the Gore states plus New Hampshire, we win! Not that we should forget the South, but we definitely don't NEED it, as so many are saying.

Great, now Rudy is advocating Superdelegate Insider Coups. Wonnerful, wonnerful. How about we just abandon all this annoying "democracy" and let "the proper people" tell us who to vote for next fall.

Shessh. Desperate much?

If Clark cures cancer (before March) he can win NY giving him a shot at......

If a candidate with less primary delegate wins than Dean is pushed on us look for the ugliest schism ever. It won't happen.

All the Gore states plus NH equals Dem president. Everybody says this. But quite a few Gore states were very close, and could easily go the other way. Makes a lot more sense to nominate a candidate who's competitive everywhere in the US. BTW, a deadlocked convention is a deadlocked convention. If Dean doesn't win outright, he's apt to get weaker in each successive ballot until an un-Dean is chosen, no?

Insider coups = no money from me. I didn't agree with Florida, and just because it's Dems pulling a fix doesn't make it any better. If they pull that stunt, I'll vote against Bush and that's the end of it. No money, no legwork...de nada.

Um, people, all the Gore states plus New Hampshire does not equal Dem win. It equals Bush win. The electoral distribution from the 2000 census now in effect gives Bush more EV's now. You need New Hampshire plus one other medium sized state. I say: Arkansas. That means Clark is the man.

Dean is the Pat Buchanon of the Democratic Party. He can cater to the left...where the primary voters are, but can't appeal to the masses. He is doing a great job at energizing the base, but his success equals failure for the Democratic chances at taking back the White House.

Dean polarizes every issue...from repealling all of Bush's tax cuts (raising taxes on poor and middle class) to 100% support of the NRA and the Confederate Flag. He isn't moderate...he's left or right.

This election will be won by the independants and moderate republicans . They aren't left and right...but centrist. They want National Security and Foriegn Policy, and for their next leader to grasp domestic policy, but have the ablilty to manage the war on terror. They feel betrayed by Dubya, but aren't going to vote for a liberal. Only one man in the field of nine has the chance to swing these voters... General Wes Clark.

All this talk about Dean being unelectable is BS. Dean is a fighter, and a fighter is what the Dems desperately need. Dean seems prepared to stand up to the Repuglicans and tell them where to stick it while others are always caving or wimping out. For two years we have been asking: Where is the opposition?

Chasing after the South is a waste of time and resources, its like the Repugs going after the black vote. Why? Because to make inroads, we may have to abandon some of our deeply held beliefs to curry favor with them for votes, and that is exactly why they won't vote for us. We have spent the last decade chasing the white male vote not realizing that the Nascar Dads will never vote for us simply because they perceive us as spineless.

Above all else, to win we need a principled candidate with spine. If Wes has it, he has my vote, but please, do not undermine Dean. He can win, because he's a fighter.

Lords.

I'm not sure if you "center/populist" democrats realize this, but the liberal wing of our party has lost confidence in the ability of the DLC wing of the party to elect down ticket candidates. You guys were given custody of the party in the 90s and in the ensuing years you've managed to squander a democratic majority in congress, lose governor's races in numerous states, and alienate your base.
The GOP is eating us for lunch because they managed to change political discourse over the last 20 years. You're strategy is all about nibbling around the edges of the agenda that the GOP has put on your plate.
I'm a Dean supporter. Why? Because he fights back. Because he speaks to people who aren't content just to be lead, but act on their own.

Dean is all air, and no tire.
I'm a Republican and I will tell you why the Dem's have consistently lost and it is this: You keep putting up unacceptable candidates for office. Your best candidate to date was Bill Clinton, and he only got to where he was at because he betrayed the leftist in the Dem party and swung to the center after he was elected (very smart him, thats what got him elected a second term).
The GOP has one thing right, and that is hoodwink the voters into thinking their electing a centrist, and after election swing far right of center and hose everything that resembles Civil Liberties and Americana.
If I were the dems, I'd take a cue from the Dem party in California, find a candidate that moderate Republicans and moderate democrats can get behind and reap in the cross-over voters.
As it stands, Dean gets put up for the dem ticket, my vote goes to the libertarian party. Clark gets put up, I will vote Clark.

Most people still have no idea who Howard Dean is. Nation polls mean nothing.

This weekend, while tabling for Dean, I talked to an ex military Republican voter who didn't like the way Bush is treating the troops. When I told him Dean had the NRA "A" rating, his eyes lit up. Dean has huge crossover appeal, in my opinion. He's a far more muscular candidate than Clark is. Clark is pandering so hard to prove his Dem bona fides, he's embarrassing himself.

You need to pander. Theres no two ways around it. How do you think Dubya won all those swing converts? Admitting outright that he would start wars and move to the far right? No! He promised "compassionate conservatism", and "no nation-building". Everyone thought he'd be a more progressive version of his dad, when in fact he turned out to be much MUCH further right than his father! He broke his promises just like his father tho.

Thats the only way to win this. Sad to say this, but you have to compromise your principles during a presidential election -- its the only way to win. Gore, McCain and Bradley were all men of principles and integrity and they lost to the only filthy liar in the group. But what really matters is what you do after you're in office. Just get there.

Note that all the Dean support on this site refers to people's emotions. "He's tough....backbone....he'll stand his ground......and it makes me feel good!!"

This betrays a self centeredness and lack of awareness that there is not some giant sleeping partisan progressive Democratic majority out there for the rousing in time for fall 2004. Look at the darn polling, for goodness sakes. People like Bush personally - can you accept that? He needs to be beaten with positivity. Stop bashing the DLC - they're weak. Are you labeling anybody who doesn't like Dean a DLCer? Please.

And finally, these same defenders of Dean do not understand or agree on the importance of optimism, which Clark radiates. Dean does not, he is heavy and stern. If you disagree on that, it is subjective, I'll admit - but just wait till they're better known. I'd bet anything you'd find most people agreeing with my personality assessment. I think on that alone Dean will probably fall. Unless he runs a poor race, I think Clark will win big in February.

"Dean is the Pat Buchanon of the Democratic Party. He can cater to the left...where the primary voters are, but can't appeal to the masses."

You should remember that Vermont is state with two major constituencies: Burlington and rural dairy farmers. We're not nearly as Democratic as Massachussetts, for example. Dean pulled 60% and 70% majorities in many of his races, and got along famously well with moderate Republicans.

Dean wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the usual reasons: Dean is a hardcore deficit hawk, and he doesn't believe in fiscally irresponsible politics. Now, this may make him unelectable--many Americans want tons of services and no taxes--but it makes him responsible and competent.

Now, I don't have anything against Clark (except his Acxiom connections), but he needs to convince me that (1) he'd govern well and (2) he's ready to hit back hard when Rove smears him. The latter is basic Milgram-style psychology: Unless you're willing to challenge the legitimacy of the current leader's authority (morally, if not legally), you can expect about 70% of the people to do what they're told, up to and including torture.

"And lets not forget something: Starbucks owes its roots to the blue collar. . ."

And Harley-Davidson owes its roots to greasy bikers from the '50's, but now that the bikes cost as much as a Lexus (the other vehicle of about 90% of the Starbucks-slurpin' yuppies who are cruising around playing biker dress-up on their post-modern "hogs,") the relevance of "roots" is approaching zero.

The work the arithmetic section has stuff that's theoretical at best.

The hype goes to candidates that win primaries/caucuses and do better than expected. From hype flows money.

The superdelegates aren't going to align against Dean en masse. This would create a feud that would last into and past the general election. The super delegates are not going to tell their donors and volunteers they don't count.

It's been a long time since deciding the nominee went to the convention. The forces that cause the parties to close ranks are going to be especially powerful for the Dems this cycle.

Clark is an appealing candidate, but it's all on paper so far. The thing he hasn't done is run an effective campaign - and that means his supposed electability is just wishful thinking so far. Electable is as electable does, and so far Dean's done that.

One could argue that if Clark had Joe Trippi et al behind him, he'd be doing better - but candidates likely get the staff that they deserve. If Clark fires most of his current staff, energizes the grassroots, and starts running a winning campaign, he could go all the way. If not, I like the sound of a Dean / Clark ticket.

Ruy,

Thanks for these posts. They are very interesting. I like Clark a lot, but I wouldn't put too much into that ARG poll in SC. It's not a reliable outfit, and the Edwards campaign itself didn't put much stock into it when it showed us ahead.

Their numbers vary widely and make no sense.

THe Edwards internals are more reliable, believe it or not, Hickman does good work. THey also show Clark in a strong position, but second to Edwards.

Take care. And thanks for the hope your numbers give me.

Clark will win the nomination because he is the only top tier candidate who has a plan for getting us out of the jobs recession. Dean proposes to cancel all the tax cuts--the only Bush policy that is pushing us out of the recession. He would stay a deficit hawk even when we need a deficit. Short and Long term interest rates are already so low, Monetary policy no longer has the power to push us out of the recession, if we were not running a huge deficit. The policy mix pursued in the first years of the Clinton Administration will not work. We need policies that directly encourages more jobs located in the US.
Clark proposes to take back only the part of the tax cut going to the top 2 percent of the population and uses that to sustain state and local spending, increase homeland defense and offer tax credits to companies to increase employment. We had such a tax credit in 1977-78 and it worked very well. [see "Selective employment subsidies" article in May 1979 American Economic Review] This package of policies has a much bigger employment bang for the deficit buck than the Bush tax cut or even the middle class portion of the tax cut. A Dean candidacy based on ending all the tax cuts would produce a Democratic party wipe out.

So let me see if I've got this right. Ruy's five-point plan for Clark winning the nomination includes getting the superdelegates to go against the votes of Democratic primary voters -- spurning democracy within the Democratic Party -- right after the Supreme Court did the same thing in the Florida debacle of 2000? Hopelessly crippling any such nominee (since the word "schism" doesn't even begin to describe it)?

I call that doubly far-fetched. Superdelegates really aren't that stupid.

I can partially repair the analysis, though. Democratic primary voters don't get to vote on the nominee's running mate, so the superdelegates could, if they wished (and if they weren't committed to the nominee -- also a big if) effectively pick the VP without rejecting democracy and without tearing the Party apart. In fact, you might even argue that the Party establishment is already trying to make that play more likely with the last minute entry of a certain candidate.

Yes -- but virtually all of the "Superdelegates" are elected Democrats. They include, members of Congress and the Senate, Elected Chairs and Co-chairs of state parties, elected delegates to the DNC which is the body that runs the party between conventions, delegates selected at the state level from among Democratic Elected Officials at the State and Local level (Governors, State Legislators, and City Council Members -- local district attorneys and all) At the national level the DNC elects a small uumber of representatives of important democratic constitutant groups such as the AFL-CIO. I think it is tough to argue that these elected officials somehow are not representative of Democrats, and that they should have no role in selecting the national ticket.

I have been carefully watching which super delegates have associated with a Presidential Candidate -- and it appears to me that among house members about a third (mostly leadership) has made early announcements for Gephardt -- something to be expected from past loyalty. I understand a real pitch was made for early endorsements by Lieberman's camp among DNC delegates, and this was resented as strong-arming. I would suggest that the first candidate to speak to the fiscal situation in the states is the one who is going to pick up support among the state legislators who have yet to select their delegates. It is usually done after the caucus-primary is complete in any state, and usually reflects the proportional distribution established by that process.

I would argue that putting the concerns of state and local office holders into play in the nomination process is far more democratic than the private wooing of delegates slated by and elected for a withdrawn candidate. Given the fact that we may have much of the field remaining in for several rounds this year -- there may be quite a number of such delegates come Boston.

I will say this much -- Clark looks the part, but Dean is prepared to challenge Bush's legitimacy.
Emotional? Perhaps. But I agree with the person who said Bush's authority must be challenged morally, and perhaps legally.

On pandering. Oh yes, it's sometimes a necessary evil. However, we Dems don't really have to pander since the majority of Americans share our views on just about every issue that is dear to us -- Abortion, Affirmative Action, The environment, Minimun Wage, Prescription Drugs, Universal health care, Gun Control, you name it. So what would the DLC have us do? Go to the south and pretend to be FOR the confederate flag and against Affirmative Action, go West and pretend we are wild about guns, or straddle the fence on the subject. That's the sort of thing we always do and it's why we lose.

My guess is the people want a leader, someone who is confident and secure in his beliefs and who won't go all wobbly at the first sign of opposition with "What I really meant to say was. . ." Remember, Bush never apologized for saying Clymer was a "major-league asshole." Its what he believed so why apologize.

More than anything that's what we need, a Democrat with conviction, one who is prepared to risk it all to stand by what he believes. A democrat without fear. I believe that the people will follow such a man. So far the only person who has exhibited these qualities is Dean.

"I would argue that putting the concerns of state and local office holders into play in the nomination process is far more democratic than the private wooing of delegates slated by and elected for a withdrawn candidate."

What? Private wooing? Regular delegates are elected directly by voters (through primaries and a few caucuses). Superdelegates aren't. To borrow a (para)phrase from George Orwell, this sounds like "All votes are equal, but some votes are more equal than others." Are you seriously arguing that the Democratic National Convention should be even less democratic than the Electoral College?

Ain't going to happen, folks. I know the thought of a brokered convention causes pundits everywhere to hyperventilate every four (or eight) years, but really now!

"Given the fact that we may have much of the field remaining in for several rounds this year..."

"Fact"? We've already had four out of the ten candidates drop by the wayside. One more is in acute danger of the same, and his initials are J.L. That's half the field decimated before the first vote! There's a very high probability at least one and possibly even two more will be gone after only the first two states. And I don't think anyone has any scenario where *both* Edwards and Clark survive past South Carolina. The whole system, press included, is brutal this way.

But back to the superdelegates. Is anyone seriously suggesting that they'd go against the will of their own party's rank-and-file voters, especially in the first election after Florida? And why is this even listed as an element of Clark's nomination strategy?

I don't know where some of you are from but it's obviously not the midwest or south. Dean has many fine qualities but one horrendous sin: he cannot beat Bush. Clark forces are just as passionate. Clark as well is a fighter, proven many times over. He appeals to the southern and rural Dem, the independent and those Republicans who cannot fathom where their party is going in ways that Dean flat-out can't match. When exactly was the last time a northeastern Democrat (left, right or center) won the Presidency? Kennedy. I'm not willing to lose next November and see the country run into the ground for four more years. Dean people need to face the music, no matter how painful, and work for the change. Don't follow the Nader example of shooting yourself in the foot. Someone who agrees with 99% of what you do and is in office is a hell of a lot better than someone you love a bit better who leads us to defeat come November '04.

Linda

Marist College National Poll released 11/4/03: Clark is "least electable" against Bush (outside MOE). (Click on my name for web link.)

Bush 48%, Gephardt 43%, Unsure 9%
Bush 48%, Kerry 42%, Unsure 10%
Bush 49%, Dean 41%, Unsure 10%

Then the numbers fall off the proverbial margin of error cliff:

Bush 55%, Clark 36%, Unsure 9%

I'm getting pretty sick of this notion that only Southerners can win the Presidency. It's insulting to Northerners, with the implication that a Northeast Governor can't possibly have any appeal in the South, and insulting to Southerners, who are painted as yokels who will only vote for their next door neighbors.

A candidate can, and must, appeal to the whole country. But we are a nation of ideas, not of provincialism. Whether our nominee is Dean, Clark, Edwards, or Gephardt, they will have to reach out beyond their "region."

We won't win running on old ideas.

Will someone please explain as coherently as possible why they believe that Dean cannot beat Bush.

Much appreciated.

Lords.

The base may be influenced by anger but you're not going to motivate the moderates and independents without a vision.
Right now Dean is looking like a somewhat conservative (if you look at his record) New England Democrat who is appealing a little too much (at least for mid-western tastes) to the angry left. That appeal is not a plus. Add on to that his stance on the tax cut (though sound logic - it's also not a plus).
Clark doesn't have a voting record to hang on him and his international experience is unquestionable. He appears (whether true or not) to have a vision of America's role in the world that is based on real world experience. Though motivated by anger he doesn't come across as blinded by it. Dean sometimes does.
You need to motivate independents, moderates and urban minorities to get to the polls. Anger gathers like minded folks. Vision motivates. The base-plus will win against Bush.

On this topic, electability, poll numbers and one key state:

from Tapped, orig from Quinnipiac -

".....a state poll by Quinnipiac University in Pennsylvania that shows John Kerry with a reed-thin one-point lead over Wesley Clark; they garnered 18 and 17 percent support, respectively. The poll also shows Howard Dean trailing in the key battleground state, with 5 percent support and losing to George W. Bush in a head-to-head match-up by a full 10 points, while Kerry loses to Bush in Pennsylvania by 7 points and Clark loses by 5. Democrats will need to win Pennsylviania if they want to win the White House. Right now, it doesn't look like anyone is in particularly great shape to do that, and Dean's task in the state looks like a particularly tough slog. "

Lords,

It's in many of the posts here. But I'll repeat the case for ease.

I think the consensus is not that Dean is unelectable, it's just that he's less electable than at least Clark. (and possibly others, but let's leave that alone for now.) Why?

- history: taxes are a weapon used against Democrats with good results. Dean and Gep's position on rolling back *all* of the Bush tax cuts is essentially a tax increase. The old script of Democrats of "wanting to raise your taxes" will be revived. With brutal efficiency.

- Democrats need to win over non college educated voters, specifically men, and specifically Indpendent males, who have gone for Bush, even against their economic interests. These voters vastly outnumber the college educated voters that play a disproportionate role in the Dem nominating process. As Teixera has pointed out, Dean trails other candidates significantly in each of these groups in polls. This is the "alarm bell" I referred to in a previous post.

- foreign policy: whether it's valid or not, being percieved as anti-war will hurt Dean as the nominee because supporting military strength, being patriotic in tone and positions, and having concrete foreign policy experience is important to the many frightened Independent voters out there. Clark has a particular advantage in this aspect; Kerry less so but as well. Clark as nominee diminishes Bush's ability to use "fear of a rookie at the controls in this dangerous time" as a theme. Against Dean, it will be brutally effective.

So Clark (and possibly others) wouldn't have to spend nearly as much time and money playing defense on these critical issue areas.

- last of all: optimism. Two candidates radiate it (Clark and Edwards). The others don't. It's a big advantage. It's also subjective, discount this if you wish, but I think this assessment would hold with a majority of voters.

Is this truly scientific? No. Poltics never is. But it seems clear that a certain set of perceptions about Dean is out there, and it is hurting him among key constituencies that he would need in the general election. These contituencies are much more reliable than the oft-argued magical mega turnout of hidden Democrats, which has never happened before. And this election will be close.

OK, Lords, with all due respect, this is why I (and many like me) sincerely believe that Dean cannot win. Also, this addresses a point Damian made.

As much as we might like it otherwise, the electoral college is the mathmatical problem or opportunity with which we must contend. Yes, certainly a successful candidate must appeal outside his or her region to win the Presidency. However, just having the most overall votes doesn't cut it. If not, we'd have Gore in office. Winning states is the thing. Bush must hold every state he had (or stole) in 2000 to be reelected. The Dems need only pick off one decent-sized state that was close in 2000. Can Dean deliver every Dem state from 2000? Most probably, yes. So can Clark. These are by and large dependable "Blue" states that really don't like the Bush regime. The more important question is who can snag a Red state. Really close states vunerable to the GOP include Florida (naturally), Tennessee, West Virginia, even Ohio (which went to Clinton twice). Yes, regionality starts to matter a great deal.

I truly don't think Dean has as much Midwest or Southern appeal as Clark - dislike that opinion all you want. Military service has been skewing southern and rural since the end of the draft. Service has always had strong roots in the south (Tennessee is called the Volunteer State, you know). Clark negates completely Bush's "I'll save you all" appeal in a way that, frankly, Dean cannot. Besides which, Clark is ever bit as intelligent, driven, thoughtful and "born to leadership" as Dean. I see absolutely no downside in supporting him whole-heartedly.

Again, this is just my opinion but it's shared by many of us in the Midwest and South doing everything to save all of us from Four More Years. I'll support whatever Dem gets the nod but will do everything in my power to see that it's a candidate that can win the Big Prize. I don't think I can watch another election night with Tim Russert pointing to the Red and Blue divide and saying "It all comes down to one thing: Florida, Florida, Florida".

BTW, Lords, where do you live? I'm sitting in Kentucky, probably watching our Governor's Mansion go to the GOP for the first time in 30 years. Maybe it takes living where you're the minority to form my opinions, right or wrong. I'd be interested to hear if that's true.

Victory in 2004!

Linda

Dean can't win the South. Clark can win the North.

Lords:>"Will someone please explain as coherently as possible why they believe that Dean cannot beat Bush."

I would call it the Ross Perot Effect. Everyone listened to Ross Perot, and in retrospect, he did raise some important questions about the economy and spending. However, when it came to actual leadership (ie. the ability to have principles, but to realize that compromise is also part of the process), Ross was far too dogmatic. Dean is doing the same thing...his flambouyant dogmatism will attract popular attention, but his lack of pragmatism will be his undoing at the voting booth. In the end, Dean will go the way of Ross Perot.The American voter will go with the Devil they know over the devil they don't know.

I thank you all for your well thought out responses to my question. The consensus is that if we want to win Clark has more going for him than Dean does. Ok, I give you that on a platter. I like Wes Clark and if he wins the nomination, I'll jump up and down with the rest of you. However, I have been so frustrasted with the Dems, for so long, and Dean is the man who gave me hope. He still does.

All of your points are well taken, but I would like to suggest a few things. Generally speaking, we Democrats tend to be too pessimistic and we scare much too easily. The right wing media begins to denigrate and before you can say Jack Spratt, we are parroting the negatives and moderating our positions.

I believe Dean HAS vision and he damned well should be angry that Americans have to travel to Canada for their drugs, don't you think? He should be pissed that $87 billion is being spent in Iraq while the benefits to our veterans are being slashed. I feel that the most important thing for him to be is authentic. If he is, instead of staying home, the base WILL RUN TO THE POLLS THIS TIME, and will be joined there by the independents, moderates, sensible Republicans, who always vote anyway. Our problem is that WE never energize our base. Dean does that.

And importantly, I do not believe that he will allow himself to be gored by the media as Al did without fighting back.

And now the brilliant points of the brilliant one. Again, well taken. However, the take on taxes is what I mean by we scare too easily. When Geo Bush announced his massive tax cut for the rich, just about everyone was against it. Rps & Dems. Its too big, yada yada, yada. He stuck with it, they fell into line it passed with some tinkering. So, I say to Howard, stick with your repeal. We know they'll come after him hard, so let them, we will just hit back harder, anything but caving. Too much of that going on nowadays. CBS did it this ayem on Reagan. It is this wishy-washy caving that we Dems are so perfect at, that causes white (esp. Southern) males to leave this party. When we begin to show that we have balls, people will follow us, until then, we can forget it.

I'd take a line here to remind you about Bush. He's on the wrong side of just about every social issue. Will you tell him not to run?

So yes, on the one hand I can see why so many feel that we have to make adjustments to our positions for fear of what the Rps will do to us, but that's only because they know we are too timid to fight back effectively. We are the ones always reacting to them. Through their own iniative and desire to win, they recently stole California & Texas, and Lord knows what else they're cooking up right now. We are left whining about how awful they are.

Before someone reminds me, I'll say it. Clarke is a breath of fresh air. He stuck his finger in a dictator's chest and told him to shape up or ship out. So with Dean, he may have some of these qualities. His time may come.

And Linda, regarding your Governor's race: It ain't over 'til its over. I hail from New York City. Please don't hold it againgst me. :-) So you see I speak from experience. In a city that's about 70% Dem, I keep watching Republicans get elected Mayor. Why? Because the Dem candidates are usually wishy-washy jacks-of-all-things-to-all-people.
Thanks again, everyone.

Lords.

What folly - trying to predict, fully a year before the election, who is going to have the best shot at beating Bush. And making that prediction based, from what I'm reading, on only two factors:

1) Clark is a southerner.
2) Clark is a general.

Allow me to counter, then, with two factors of my own:

1) Clark has never run for elected office.
2) Clark has never governed.

Now it is true that since Kennedy, we have not elected a non-southern Democrat to the White House. But how far back must we go to find a Democratic President that had never run for *any* office and/or governed? I can't name a single one. Does this mean Clark is unelectable? No.

In fact, Clark has defenders all over the Democratic party making justifications about why it doesn't matter that he has never run or governed. That's a good thing - we should be supporting *all* our top candidates this way. But of course, when it's Dean's percieved weaknesses on the line, some Democrats feel the need to proclaim coming doom. Since Dean is currently the frontrunner for the nomination, this is monumentally stupid.

So Clark is a southerner. What evidence have we seen of the South rising up to embrace him? None. Have we seen any evidence that his lack of campaign experience is hurting his campaign? You betcha. Have we seen evidence that he has trouble formulating understandable policy positions? Indisputably. So which will have a greater effect - his southern heritage, or his political naivete? I don't know. Neither do you.

I am not asking anybody to nominate Kucinich, or Mosley Braun, or Sharpton. There are certain candidates that are indeed unelectable. But all you armchair pundits need to get a grip. The single biggest factor in a candidate's electability is whether the party embraces and supports him/her wholeheartedly. So far we are failing in that task.

May the best man win. I hope that man won't be too bruised by his own party to defeat Bush.

Regarding the idea that Dems scare too easily, and that's why the tax cut battles with Bush were lost - I don't think that's the reason. (see also: tax hikes with Mondale in 84, and Clinton's '93 Budget deal and the bloodbath of '94. And countless local races....)

The reason Wallet Politics works the way it does is the long, long standing tendency of Americans to have their cake on spending and eat it too - to not want to pay much in taxes while asking for services.

If you think we can just "fight" through that, I fear you've made a very big error - particularly when you can make a case that taxes can be raised on 200k/year earners - and not regular folks - like the other candidates. Fighting on middle class taxes puts the debate exactly where the Republicans want it.

You might be surprised to know that I like Dean. I think he has many gifts, especially his ability to be succinct, and he's sincere. But I recently tipped over to the "he's really a huge risk" camp because of the tax issue, as well as the polling numbers among the less educated. His style is OK with me personally, but I know I'm not like most voters.

Here's a way he can erase my doubts - reverse his numbers with the very constituencies I mentioned, and win the nomination walking away.

Forgive me, I did not mean that the tax battlles were lost because Dems scare easily. Let's see if I can do a better job of explaining myself. Generally speaking, when a Dem takes a position, as soon as any serious opposition rears its head, the person always backs off or modifies his or her position, regardless of the merit of the opposition.

For example, I recall Clinton wanted to nominate Bruce Babbit to the Supremes. Hatch, screamed bloody murder, and Clinton immediately backed off, although Biden as committee chairman assured him that he could get Babbit through.

In the same way, a lot of pundits are saying that because Dean wants to repeal the entire tax cut he'll be in trouble. The average Dem would have given that up ages ago. But Dean does not scare as easily. He's prepared to stand and fight for what he believes in. You have no idea how refreshing that is to me. Because he believes it implicitly, in time, other people may begin to see it his way.

Earlier tonight I watched him put through the wringer by Sharpton and Edwards on the Confederate flag issue. They were insisting that he apologize. He stood his ground as he had nothing to apologize for. This is all a new experience for us Dems. We are accustomed to wimps, indeed we have so little experience with strong, tough, candidates, there's no way for us to guage the dividends such conduct may yield.

You stated "Fighting on middle class taxes puts the debate exactly where the Republicans want it." This is my point too. We are so concerned and fearful about what the Repubs will do to us we find ourselves constantly calibrating our own principles and beliefs so as not to rouse them to anger. I predict a new and unorthodox ballgame. We should be taking the fight to them. Instead of reacting, we have enough ammunition on Bush to have his back against the wall for six weeks.

And finally, I put this as a question. Do we Dems have to talk about taxes they way they do? They talk about "tax relief" and that's how we talk about it as well. But why?
The Rps are greedy, they portray taxes as a bad thing, something to be avoided, an obligation to be shunted off onto the little guy. Eleanor Helmsey said it best from her jail cell: "Only fools and the poor pay taxes."

Can't we turn their greed against them? Taxes is the patriotic duty & price one pays for living in the greatest country in the world and we should all be proud to pay our fair share.

Linda:

Apparently it's over.
I'm truly sorry.

Lords,

Thanks for the kind thoughts. It is indeed over, though no real surprise. The GOP dumped an amazing amount of money into this little ol' Commonwealth, which is a scary harbinger to next year.

I agree with the points you have made regarding a candidate needing to stand up for his or her positions. I watched the Rock the Vote debate tonight and was in general well pleased by all their performances. I do think Dean erred in classifying a significant segment of "up for grabs" voters by labeling them the guys with Confederate flags on their pick-up trucks. He maybe needs to get a bit more in touch with the South, since it feels a bit demeaning. I'm certain that's not how he meant it but sound bites are a horrible thing with our lazy media corp. Time will tell if he's particularly hurt by the remark.

I do agree with an earlier post that, when looking at the line up of candidates, we maybe are suffering from an embarrassment of riches. What a good problem to have. Let's hope they don't mortally wound whoever picks up the mantle here in a few months for the big run against the real enemy.

Agreed, recinding tax cuts that never should have been enacted should be a position that's defendable. Please keep in mind, though, that we cannot count of the media doing any of the work fairly portraying this issue. They cave every time and take the easiest way out on reporting complex issues. Looking at the war chests being assembled, just how many issues can our candidate be vulnerable on? I just watched an incredibly ugly battle play out in Kentucky, saw the GOP spend double or maybe triple the money of the Dems, skew the facts enormously in their favor and won big. All the newspaper endorsements (save one) went our way but no one searched out the facts or even read the papers. They just watched the :30 spots and made their choice. Scary scary stuff.

BTW, I love NYC. I happened to be there on Election Night 2000 and watched the whole country unravel with the Florida debacle. There couldn't have been a bigger difference in how the people on the streets spoke about what was happening with the recounts there than how they were reacting upon my return to NoKY/Cincinnati days later. Again, you get an entirely different feel for what it'll take to win when you're in the minority (by at least a 2:1 margin, if not more).

So sad in Kentucky,

Linda

Dean is the one who is always backing off or modifying his position. He's changed his mind about medicare, social security, gun regulation, NAFTA, and affirmative action so far. He's always explaining away one position or another, if he gets a pass on it in the primaries, Rove will make sure he doesn't in the general. I'm already wondering if Dean believed in anything he did as governor besides balancing the budget.

The tax issue will not go away either. Democratic voters see that the wealthy and corporations not only got huge tax breaks in comparison; but they are behind the business scandals where they raked in the dough while the rest of us were left holding worthless stocks, worthless pension funds, and unemployed; then to top it off in Iraq the poor and middle class got to shed blood and a deficit likely to be paid by us, while the war profiteer corporations got lucrative contracts. Do you think we will want to give up the little we got or do you think we will want some economic justice? That is just on a gut level. On an economic level, you drive an economy by putting people to work or otherwise putting money into working class people's hands, the tax cut. It is the poor and middle class who spend money and drive an economy so that businesses invest to create more goods to sell and hire more people to sell those goods, in turn those new hires then spend their earnings which cause the businesses to invest to create more goods to sell and hire more people to sell those goods, etc, etc, etc. The point is that deficit spending can be a good thing short term, but the only thing that Dean is good at is balancing budgets, which is not good during a recession. We need someone who will put job creation first and balancing the budget second. Dean is not the man, to balance the budget in VT, he passed welfare reform even before the federal govt under Clinton did. Also he threatened to cut the prescription program for seniors to balance the budget. I know he says that he only did it to force a tobacco tax increase, but if his gambit hadn't worked, then he wouldn't have had any problem with cutting off seniors. I don't like the idea of electing anyone who will pass policies on the backs of the poorest and weakest segments of our society.

So some folk don't like my defense of Superdelegates -- let me try to clarify.

First of all -- why do we have them? They are a reform of a reform. After the 1968 Convention which was largely selected "winner take all" in the primary and caucus methods of the day, the Convention authorized a reform commission to be headed by George McGovern to examine the delegate selection process, find a way to award delegates proportionately, and make other rules changes so as to achieve racial and gender equity. When McGovern decided to run for President in 1970, the chairmanship of the commission went to Don Fraser -- then congressman, later mayor of Minneapolis. Thus the McGovern Fraser Reforms of 1972. The McGovern and Carter nominations were largely conducted that way.

But the problem emerged early -- people selected only because of their passion about a particular Presidential Candidate frequently had virtually no interest in the "down ticket" races -- about the reality that the party is an association to elect at all levels, not just one. In primary states where candidates slate the tendency was to pick leaders of groups supporting the candidate -- say an environmental group, or a human rights group -- only to later discover that such delegates were not really that interrested in "politics" -- but only in their issue area. Thus in the 1980's (really in 84) we had the invention of superdelegates because of the need to balance immediate candidate passion with long term party and political interests. In 84 it was about 20% of the convention delegates -- it is now up to about 37%. Personally, I think 37% is too high -- it should be returned to no more than 33% and kept there, but I think it very important that people permenantly invested in the party have a somewhat significant role. Right now, for instance I believe the issue of state and local finance viv a vis the services state and local government must provide is a huge issue -- and I suspect state legislators and city officials are much more discerning regarding which candidate grasps the issue than passionate supporters of a particular candidate. A superdelegate is much more likely to demand candidates speak to such matters. Similarly if a state legislative caucus elects the head of the Senate Education Committee to delegate status because they want to test which candidate best understands what's wrong with Bush's "No Child Left Behind" venture -- that person too can best focus the candidates on the problems. In the end it is a question of getting the right balance between policy coherence and passion, and to win we need both.

Superdelegates do not vote as a block. Remember if we have no early winner -- say Gephardt gets a majority in Iowa, but splits it three ways, and Dean, Kerry and Clark divide New Hampshire, and Edwards and Clark pretty much divide SC and so on, superdelegates will not necessarily have to follow their state as the state does not have a clear direction. They can wait and many will. They are in a pssition to ask for a fair hearing from several candidates. It is precisely in this process that who seems to both be an electable ticket topper and who can best talk to governance issues lights up the campaign. It is far better than a simple popularity contest -- much more complex, but also more interesting. Sadly the current state of media reporting (horserace) is not prepared to cover it, but hopefully with the blogs and the net we can follow it.

Elizabeth Drew has an interesting piece on Clark in the New York Review of Books. Not entirely uncritical, but she's clearly something of a fan. Particularly interesting is her reporting on the rather sleazy whispering campaign against Clark by some of his former Pentagon colleagues. Gen. Hugh Shelton in particular comes across as a cowardly, unprincipled liar, William Cohen as not much better.

I am not only a proud Democrat, but an even prouder Liberal, and like many of you the very last person I'd support is one who would "pass policies on the backs of the poorest and weakest segments of our society."

How things change, just a few short weeks ago the word was that Dean was too liberal to win, now he's talked about as if he's too far to the right.

I don't think that there is much more that I can say about my feelings about Dean, Clark etc., so I will try to sum up with this.

A few weeks ago I watched some political focus groups on C-Span. There were, I believe 12 respondents. At one point the moderator put up the photographs of the 9 Dem candidates. Not one of the respondents could name more that 4 of the candidates. Most could not name one. Name three members of Bush's cabinet? Huh? That was like asking what was the GNP of Mongolia.

My point is that we can talk about taxes, and tax cuts and the clean air act, and other issues until we are blue, I contend that Americans know little, are too lazy to get the story behind the story, and they use other EMOTIONAL criteria to make their choices. They feel. They relate.

I believe that the people are looking for strength. Toughness. WE have too many book-keepers -- Gores and Grays -- men who are not prepared to fight. Davis won big when he went after the Rps with a vengeance. This time they scared him and he refused to go negative. So now, Arnold's the man.
Think about it. What did he offer? Nothing. Now picture Gray Davis grinning. There you have it. And to crown it all, the republicans are on the wrong side of every issue.

This is why we desperately need a new kind of Democrat, a fighter, one who won't go wobbly when the going gets tough. For me, it is the most important criteria in choosing our nominee.

So far, that man is Howard Dean.

That Dean is "for" or at least "not against" the Confederate flag is nonsense, and attacking him on it makes the rest of the Democrats look like idiots pandering to Sharptonism and knee-jerk left-wing ideological airheads. When you see and listen to Dean's actual explanation on the evening news, you realize those trying to twist his words will only alienate those poor whites who used to be part of the Democratic coalition and who've been seduced away and then screwed economically by the Republicans.

And I don't even like Dean. I'm in the camp of those who think he's probably unelectable. I'm someone who pragmatically prefers Clark, and ideologically prefers Gephardt.

Democratic left wing ideologues have no sense regarding the South, working class Americans, or national defense. We've gone from being a party that could win world wars, contain the Soviet Union, and give the U.S. the postWWII boom to being a joke. People are losing their trust in Bush, and they're nervous about the future, but they just don't see the Democrats as being a credible alternative, if not a bunch of self-serving clowns who will make things worse. Even a heavily Democratic state like California felt it necessary to use the right-wing-recall scheme to get rid of Davis and send the message that they were fed up and were flipping the Democrats off....

- KBK

Let's be careful about using California as a harbinger of a trend. From here in Ohio Arnold S. looks like a moderate Democrat or liberal conservative and not a reflection of the current Republican tide.
Also, from here in Ohio I don't see many folks getting really excited by Dean other than my neighbor from Minnesota. Whoever wins will have to work with a republican congress and a UN that both aren't particularly going to be receptive. Clark looks like he can stick to his guns and get things done in a spirit of compromise.
There is a bias in the midwest against New England candidates that New England candidates usually work to overcome. (surprisingly, Vermont seems like an extension of Canada to most of us). Clark has blue collar credibility due to his service and he has the perception of mid-western values. Two obstacles he doesn't need to spend time overcoming.

I like this Dean/Clark debate. It's a good one.

Dean's strategy will be to energize voters with a vigorous dissent from Bush.

Clark's strategy will be to turn the red states blue with optimism and a strong foil for Bush.

I support WES CLARK because I think he's the FDR of our age, come to save the country, not just the party.

Dean is much better suited to be DNC chairman. In fact, Dean has done everything that the incompetent, inept person occupying that position right now has not -- raise money, bring people into the party, energize the base, and take on the Republicans. Dean is great. I'd love him as President, but I'm not willing to risk nominating him. I am too afraid of what the Republicans will do to him. I'd love Dean better as DNC chair and I'd love Terry McAuliffe as ambassador to a very very small country for the Clark Administration.

This election may well be a referendum on George W. Bush's leadership. Dean clearly has the best chance of weakening Bush's perceived strengh.

Shifting the campaign to Dean's negatives can be effectively be portrayed as shifting responsibility. The content of Dean's policies is not as relevant as selling them as a reversal of the last four years.

Dean for DNC Chair? Gee, what a fabulous idea, he's exactly the type of personality we need, IMHO. Too bad he's gonna be Prez though. :-)

Watch this, a direct quote quote from EG: "I am too afraid of what the Republicans will do to him."

How did this happen to us? Not too long ago we were the party of "Don't get mad, get even." Now we are all running scared. Scared to death of the Repuglicans. What the hell happened to us?

lords.

On my first post I listed all his "changes" in policy, he wanted to cut medicare (conservative), now he is backing off that (liberal); he wanted to increase the social security age and means test it (conservative), he backed off that too (liberal); he didn't want federal gun laws, no assault weapons ban, or background checks (conservative), now he wants those things (liberal); he was a strong supporter of NAFTA (conservative), he's backed off that one (liberal); he thought that affirmative action should be class based instead of race based (conservative), now he says it should be race based (liberal).

Do I have to spell it out for you why there is schizophrenia about why people can't decide if he is liberal or conservative? If you go by his record he is conservative, if you go by what he says he is liberal.

Dean is the one who is wobbly on everything except for testing which way the wind is blowing. He found a core group who are angry at Bush and so he blew hot air to get them wound up and writing checks. That won't get him anywhere in the general election. Look at the polls, people don't hate Bush, they are more disappointed with the way the war and the economy are going, but don't really blame him. I think they are going to vote on emotion, they are looking for a reason to vote for someone besides Bush, but someone optimistic to give them hope. All they will see in Dean is bombastic bluster, that won't give them their excuse, they would rather have Bush's happy face lies to Dean's arrogant belligerence.

Dean is running against the Democratic Party, he isn't just using the Washington outsider label to advance the notion that he will bring fresh ideas to Washington, he goes out of his way to label Democrats as useless cockroaches. This is extremely dangerous. We don't just want to elect a Democratic president, we need a Democratic congress. Clark is the outsider with coattails, he hasn't slammed any of the other Democrats. If Dean is the nominee watch for a loss of Democratic seats in congress and no way for him to govern. He's an arrogant egotist who thinks he alone can save America. We need someone who can bring Congressional Democrats together instead of alienating them, and can work with Congressional Republicans. That is Wesley Clark.

I don't want to get all into it, DMJ, but it's hilarious that you're attacking Dean as the one who can't keep his positions straight, and then backing Clark.

Clark's position on the Iraq war?

Just saying.

Before the war he spoke in a congressional committee saying that he thought it was important that they pass a resolution to give the US leverage with the UN, he also said it was unnecessary to include the giving the president the authorization to go to war, just the intention, and if it was necessary to go to war to come back for another resolution. That is why he said he would have voted for a resolution, but also said he wouldn't have supported the war since the case hadn't been made. It is the same position that Dean took, by the way.

Now explain to me how you can support someone who has renounced most of the things he did during his governorship. What does this tell you about his judgement? It tells me he's crappy as a governor but great at hoodwinking crowds of people to write checks, like George Bush.

Great site, Ruy. I haven't been over here in a while and I definitely regret it. Love your work.

Of course, there's a "but". "BUT" this business of electibility and five point plans and such for a single candidate (your favorite, I presume) seems to me to do more harm than good, in a big-picture sense. The same way the the DLC-sponsored attacks on Dean, and the confederacy of dunces that are the Kerry/Gephardt/Lieberman campaigns are doing more to hurt the Dems' chances next year.

The problem that I see (I, a Dean supporter and contributor) is that Dean may actually win the damned thing--then what? All of the thought-leaders and political leaders who spilled pages and pages of ink and pixels beating him down are going to do what, exactly? Watch their carfeully laid attacks and strategies come back to haunt them in the general, when Republicans pick up the ball and run with it, right into November. We say that politics is a tough business, but the Dems are well past tough and moving into fratricide--your shilling for Clark, while you're entitled to do, tends to lend to that, essentially because you're a figure in the Party and people listen to you.

Secondly, you've got the problem of a lot of energetic voters who are lockstep behind Dean who take this sort of thing rather personally. What if Dean doesn't win? Are they going to look at the rest of the Dems and think: "Well, screw these guys, they didn't play fair, so I'm staying home."? While those noncollege-educated folks might pull the lever for you, you need the energetic college-educated types to volunteer for the campaign, working grueling hours doing the shitwork that makes campaigns run. College-educated folks have careers that allow them the time for it, noncollege-educated folks typically don't. So by launching a frontal assault on Dean, and courting everyone BUT his supporters, you ignore a very important constituency, and one which could have helped you beat Bush.

There's a bit of parallel to McCain's non-candidacy in 2000. Bush alienated McCain supporters--moderates, newcomers, college-educated--which, had he courted would have put him over the top in many more states. Further, McCain, was actually the stronger GOP candidate--in some late-season polls (likely taken by bored pollsters), McCain was beating Gore 60-40.

Political newcomers, college-educated people, and pissed-off liberals can move the election one way or the other. The Democratic candidate better be taking to them, regardless of who he is.

Sara -- Thanks for helpful history of superdelegates. Viable representative democracies embrace divisions of labor (usually formal, e.g., House and Senate) between short-attention-span reps and long-attention-span reps. If super's didn't exist, we'd have to invent them.

Those who favor eliminating super's (or neutering them by insisting they vote only as their states have voted) are on logically indefensible ground. They object to the super's" unrepresentative" voting power, but would replace it with a system in which most Democrats (general election voters, but not primary voters) are entirely unrepresented. Primary voters, as we know, are a manifestly unrepresentative sample of general election Democrats.

They ignore entirely the fundamental representative democratic process of agency (by which voters confer their voting power on representatives to make the rep's presumably more active, able, informed decision), in favor of pure delegation (in which voters confer only the power to transmit their own choices through the rep acting as a passive surrogate).

They would put the full-time worked-her-way-up-the-ladder-doing-thankless-tasks-in-thankless-times party-builder emeritus on equal footing with the fringe Dem or aisle-crossing Republican who happens to show up on Dem primary day.

They would weaken the party, unquestionably. Every membership organization has a committed core who keep it alive from season to season, and their rewards are largely confined to minor formal honors and a bit more influence over the agenda. Eliminate the super's, and you take most of the brass rings out of the reward system.

They would leave the party without its share of good-faith brokers equipped to reconcile divergent sentiments in case of a brokered convention.

And they would open the door wide to Republican manipulation of the Democratic nomination. This isn't even a remote concern under current rules, but it would become an active battlefront without the super's in the system.

All that said, I think Clark will win the nomination outright, but win in ways largely disjoint from the paths either DR or the superdelegate alarmists have in mind.

Whoa, DMJ, there's no need to get bitter about it.

First of all, it's common knowledge that Clark has flipped his Iraq war position several times since announcing his candidacy and finally settled on a Kerry-esque "If only the President had run the war the way *I* wanted him to" position.

Meanwhile, Dean stated on Feb 7, 2003: "I firmly believe that the President is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time, when our energy and our resources should be marshaled for the greatest threats we face. Yes, Saddam Hussein is evil. But Osama bin Laden is also evil, and he has attacked the United States, and he is preparing now to attack us again. What happened to the war against al Qaeda? Why has this Administration taken us so far off track?"

As for Dean being a "crappy" governor, I think the Governor's record speaks for itself. Vermont has a healthy economy, healthy children, a flourishing environment, and terrific schools. How is your state doing right now?

Finally, Dean himself has never claimed to be anything other than a moderate, politically. Are you criticizing him for appealing to liberal and moderate Dems alike? (Not to mention Independents, Greens, Libertarians, and even Republicans.) Isn't this supposed to be a big tent party?

I don't dispute that Dean has altered his position on certain issues, in part because national policy is different than state policy. But when you use Clark as an example of a stalwart thinker I do have to laugh.

Can we at least agree that we'll support whoever gets the nom?

As always it's in the eye of the beholder.
Trying to persuade a Clark supporter that Dean is the one, or a Dean supporter that Clark will be more effective, is like trying to tell a Repuglican that Bush sucks. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we dislike. Anyway, Howard has something to say.

Hanover, N.H.: Governor Dean, from my friends, family, and coworkers, I keep hearing the same criticism of your campaign: "I like Gov. Dean's policies, but I don't think he can beat President Bush." From a strategic point of view, what would you do differently from your opponents to win the general election?

Howard Dean: I think I may be the only Democrat that can beat President Bush. We have a huge and growing army of supporters and we have raised more money than any other Democratic candidate -- mostly in small donations averaging $75 a piece. People all over this country need jobs, health insurance and are demoralized by the President's arrogant foreign policy. What we represent is change. What the President represents is more of the same."

I'm beginning to believe that it was Karl Rove who put out that "can't beat Bush" line.

RonK, Sara: There's a reason to run against the system. It's crooked, and no longer in any way represents the country, for either party. Ron, you talk about the tragic plight of all of that poor committed core.

The reality is that "poor and tragic" are two words that are totally inappropriate for that core. Swing a dead cat around Party HQ, the Hill Staff, The WH staff, most campaign staff (paid), etc... The screams you hear of those thumped are coming from nice well off folks, who's Mommy's and Daddy's covered their expensive universities, called in the favors their maximum campaign contributions bought them, etc...so they could have to suffer so tragically in the halls of power (of course, this "tagic" arguement always seems to drop big cash payout on the back ends, through contacts made or direct K-St influence peddling for everyone). The middle class and under need not apply.

That's fine for the Republicans...no one expects them to "reflect America". But the collective of upper income folks has left us wide open to most of the Republican smears...primarilly because of the core of truth to them. Limsoine liberal. Advocates and passes laws that imapct the regular folk, but exempt themselves, Etc... And we no longer connect at all on a gut level with the broad midlle class.

If you want to see an example in action, look no further than that lovely Clinton led fundraiser for all those young DC area Dems. Of all the places to have a "low dollar", appeal to the crowd event...Dream? DC's most expensive pretentious waste of space...it says something when that's the choice. Most folks here either can't afford that place, or simply loathe it. It's the favoriate of vapid rich kids, however.

Oh, and did I mention that like many partician events, the chairty fundraising was pretty much secondary...they actually spent more than they raised. Lovely.

(I won't bother mentioning the "Rock the Vote" debater...ya think maybe they could have at least bussed in some State and Junior College students? Amazingly a collective from Hahvahd and Tufts doesn't quite have the experiences of 95% of students in the US.)

The Supers, whatever the reason they were initially created, now are simply another mechanism of maintaining the status quo. Those uppity commoners go against us? We have a firebreak.

If the Supers represent the interests of non-primary voters...well, I didn't realize that pre-cognitive telepathy was conferred upon election. This of course assumes that all of them are elected officials...in fact a number of them are wealthy connected players. Evidently wealth also endows one with precognative telepathy.

Put simply, it's time to start making this party more democratic. The fact that some folks are suggesting Dean as DNC head demonstrates how clueless about what is happening. We commoners aren't a nifty new money channel to exploit...we want an actual say. A Super coup is a guarantee of losing all of the folks Dean has activated. We'll vote, but we'll no more send in our money or donate our time that we would have sent a thank you to Scalia after Florida.

Gah. Sorry about the typos. Must remember...preview is your friend.

Forget the typos, Nowicki ... what's your excuse for the rest of that delusional blather?

"Ron, you talk about the tragic plight of all of that poor committed core." No. I don't. I didn't here. I haven't elsewhere. (Neither does anybody else that I know of.) This line of argument exists only in your fevered, jaundiced dreams.

Other errors similar ... no point teasing them all out. And no response to the actual arguments by which you might have improved your appreciation of democracy.

Damian Carroll said: "First of all, it's common knowledge that Clark has flipped his Iraq war position several times since announcing his candidacy"

Damian Carroll also said: "I don't dispute that Dean has altered his position on certain issues"

So the person you consider the Democrat's savior 'altered' his opinion, but the candidate being considered by others 'flipped'. Nice try. No candidate has changed his opinion more than Dr. Flip-Flop. You can call it what you want, it's still the same thing.

Damian Carroll said: "I think the Governor's record speaks for itself. Vermont has a healthy economy, healthy children, a flourishing environment, and terrific schools."

Vermont has roughly 600,000 residents. Big woo. Over 3x as many people come to Mardi Gras every year. Satisfying and controlling over 2,000,000 people in such a small area is quite an accomplishment. Perhaps our Chief of Police should run for president.

It sure is common knowledge that Clark flipped his position on Iraq several times, it is also common knowledge that Iraq has ties to al Qaeda, a nuclear weapons program, and WMD. Yessir all of that is true, you can't argue with common knowledge these days. If you are advocating intellectual laziness then Bush already has this election in the bag.

I'm not saying Dean was a crappy governor, he is the one saying it, by not admitting the things he did and said as governor, or making excuses for it all. Although he does take credit for signing civil unions bill, even if it was the VT supreme court that forced him to sign it and he did it hiding behind closed doors. That's how proud he was to do it at the time.

Sorry, I don't trust the guy. And especially since he is hiding some 40 to 45% of the documents created while he was governor ala Dick Cheney's energy cabal. Dean even says it's because he doesn't want anything embarrassing coming out during future endeavors, like running for the presidency.

Sounds to me like he'll be a Democratic version of Bush refusing FOIA requests that might be embarrassing and calling it national security. And passing the buck or making excuses and lies for the things he does that he doesn't want to admit to or taking credit for things that he resisted but turned out well.

As for the confederate flag flap, in the context he used for his last comment, he basically said he is trying to keep a moderate states rights position on gun laws, not because he believes in the position he took as governor, but for the cracker vote. That isn't telling poor white southerners that Dems will give them better health care, schools, and jobs. Sharpton had every right to be angry, Dean is saying that he will yield to the racist vote. His original position was an excellent one in that he was going to convince them to yield to Democratic ideals and principles. Edwards also had every reason to be angry, don't you think northerners should be talking to our own Archie Bunkers about race before we judge the south. Those northern racists also vote Republican. Instead Dean pointed to the south as the problem and patronized them as if he can save them from themselves. He should have stuck to the economic and domestic programs script and convinced them that he has better policies than the Republicans instead of throwing around divisive imagery.

>

This is precisely the kind of thinking that went into the Nader campaign in 2000 with all its consequences -- the generalized view that one can somehow cast one vote against the "system" and Grover Nordquist and his buddies won't be there to clean up after you.

The vast majority of Democratic State and Local elected officials and party workers are not corrupt. When I hear people say such nonsense, I wonder how many office holders you know? How many campaigns have you worked over the years? (I've done 20 legislative campaigns -- all for progressive women. -- none of whom have ever had an ethics charge or have been indicted.) I also served as liason between different levels of party organization and campaign in Paul Wellstone's first Senate campaign in 1990 -- I hope you are not calling all that corrupt with some sort of blanket condemnation of "the system."

In point of fact a successful comapign has both passion at the base and skilled resources and support from those who are well seasoned in politics, and electorial process. That's why I appreciate both the McGovern-Fraser reforms of the early 1970's which brought us proportional representation, gender and racial equity, and much else -- but I also support in a limited way the reforms of the reforms which require a successful candidate to appeal to party activists and current office holders as well as a passionate base. Believe me, if you want to win you have to coordinate your campaign with others in the party, and if you play it unilaterally, they are less likely to be helpful. This tends to apply to International Affairs (as Bush is now learning) as well as basic election design. Put simply -- you want to elect a Paul Wellstone -- well somehow you have to convince every county commissionre who is door knocking to carry his literature. You don't do that by being snarky with the "system."

Oops -- the quote didn't copy -- twas"

"Ronk, Sara, There's a reason to run against the system. it's crooked and no longer in any way represents the country, for either party. Ron, you talk about the tragic plight of all of that poor committed core."

DMJ: If you don't mind. How do you explain Dean's success? Do you believe its just anger, or that there's an army out there, a larger army than anyone elses at the moment, who genuinely believes that he's the one to take us to the promised land? Given your strong feelings, can you bring yourself to vote for him if he wins the nomination?

Wow. Yesterday this was a debate on the future of the Democratic Party. This morning, it seems more like a slam fest.

DMJ, you did say Dean was "crappy as a Governor." Maybe that wasn't what you meant, but don't ask me to decipher your rhetoric. And just because Clark has *settled* on a coherent Iraq position doesn't mean he hasn't *stated* conflicting positions on the way. I know it, you know it. Don't make me get out my Lexis Nexis.

As for comparing Dean to Cheney and Bush, why don't you get in line behind those who say Dean is McGovern, Carter, Dukakis, Mondale, Gingrich, etc. Who's next? Hitler?

And Cory... perhaps you didn't realize that I was responding to attacks on Dean's performance as Governor. You are welcome to say that Vermont is too small a state to matter (By the way, how big is big enough? Arkansas?), but no one can claim that Dean's record there is "crappy."

Finally, as for the differences between "altered," "changed," and "flip-flopped," I will leave that important debate to you. I'm too busy trying to defeat Bush in 2004.

Lords, Do you know that there are many soldiers who have come back severely injured, loss of limbs, loss of sight or hearing, who still believe that going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do? Some of them may sincerely believe it, I think there are others who don't, but can not face the fact that they have sacrificed so much for nothing. This is a rather extreme example, but to me this kind of thinking explains alot of Deans success. He originally tapped into that anger we are talking about. We are all mad as hell about what Bush has done to our country and about taking us to war on false pretenses. If you take a look around at many of the blogs and message boards, you will hear many of his supporters say things like, "I just wrote Dean another check I can't afford." It would be very difficult to get this person to change horses in midstream, he or she is already tapped out and can't afford to financially support a different candidate, they have already "sacrificed" too much to believe it has been for a mirage. You see the same thing when you try to talk to a life long Republican about Bush. They can not "sacrifice" a belief they have had for decades no matter how bad it gets. There has to be a breaking point, will Republicans change their mind if they lose their job, or pension to the stock market and mutual fund scandals, or lose a son in the war, or another 9/11 style terrorist attack in America? I don't know what it will take. Back to Dean, I do not deny that he has true believers, but I have to wonder, how many of his positions as governor does he have to change his mind on before they wonder about his character and how many gaffes does he have to make before they see that voters other than the true believers won't give him a pass on it? He's a chameleon, only he doesn't change his colors for principled reasons, but for political expediency, which means that after the election he could do whatever he wants and come up with excuses for why he isn't keeping his election promises.

Damien, The one I compare Dean to is actually Chris Matthews of Hardball. He also knows when to tack right when the Republicans have the favor of the public and tack left when they don't. People call him a media whore, Dean is a political one.

I will get in line and vote for Dean if he gets the nomination, I will probably even campaign for him. I will also be pessimistic about where he is taking us if he manages to squeak the election. He will anger the Deanies who believed everything he says when he changes his mind and does things differently once elected, and he will not have the support of the Republican controlled congress and because he called down the Washington Democrats he probably won't get much help from them either (and definitely not the ones who have lost their seats because of his negative coattails), this is if he attempts to stick to his campaign promises. Anything is better than Bush in the short term, but in the long term the backlash if Dean is ineffective will give the radical right the chance to continue their agenda after only a four year reprieve.

DMJ,

Interesting comments. I appreciate your pledge to support Dean should he get the nom, reservations aside. I'll do you one better and say that I think Clark would make a terrific President, and I'll gladly support him in the opposite scenario.

I think you're missing something when you describe Dean supporters as dupes akin to fiscal conservatives blindly supporting Bush. Most of us differed with Dean on several issues from the very beginning. What we see in Dean is not a list of positions, but rather a smart, pragmatic leader who can be trusted with the big decisions.

Take NAFTA, for example. I think most Americans know what they like and what they don't like about free trade. We like opening up new markets for our products, but we don't like corporations shipping American jobs oversees. I think most of us also have a long term desire to see third world countries grow their economies, making them stable Democratic partners and less of a breeding ground for terrorism. But do we know exactly what we would do re: NAFTA if we were President? I certainly don't. What I am looking for, therefore, is not a politician who can listen to the polls and follow the crowd, but a leader who can bring the crowd to his own well-informed position. This is what I see in Dean. A little policy adjustment (sorry, Cory) doesn't bother me, as long as I get the impression that it is guided by a desire to accomplish something that works.

So no, I don't think that Dean's army will abandon him if he addresses certain issues differently today than he did eight years ago. The alternative is a dunce who is still pushing for the decades-old failure of supply-side economics, missile defense, and unilateralism.

DMJ: Thank you for your response and explanation.
Amazing, we are both looking at the same person and you see exactly the opposite of what I see. Where you see anger, I see passion and a burning desire to win; you see people giving what they can't aford, I see hope & faith; you see people sacrificing too much to believe its a mirage, I see people who for years were lonly voices in the wilderness searching for the opposition, finally finding an oasis. You talk about people other that his true believers who won't give him a pass, and I must with all respect remind you that we have a Prezident who thinks Africa is a country, and who really speaks at the 9th grade level. Talk about passes. You talk about political expediency, yet Dean was the only one who spoke up when Bush was at 80% in the polls, everyone else was too damned scared to say a word. Even Clark was making pleasant noises about Bush then. So much for expediency. I see guts. What more can I say? D. Carroll did a good job of filling in anything I may have left out.

I'm not sure that this sort of thing is allowed here, but i saw this on ABC's The Note. Thought some of you may find it interesting.

<So, on this Day After the SEIU/AFSCME news, when Dean's frontrunning status has hardened even more, let's review those things that we have suggested are the truths about Howard Dean, the sundae on which the labor cherries are going to be placed next week:

1. Dean will raise more money in the year before the election than anyone else seeking the Democratic nomination, and that historically in the modern era is (with one exception) the iron-clad predictor of who wins in both parties.

2. Beyond money, this year Dean has dominated in message and media, two other fabu things to have.

3. None of the other candidates can overtake Dean in the fourth quarter — they can theoretically do damage to him (although, outside damage with the Chattering Class, we doubt that too), but they can't cripple him. There just aren't enough people paying attention yet.

4. What doesn't kill Howard Dean only makes him stronger.

5. Fair or unfair, the media has not held Dean to the same standards as the other major candidates. Wes Clark's entry into the race sucked up a lot of publicity and took the spotlight off of Dean at the one moment when critical mass was being reached.

6. At the same time, some of Dean's explanations for his alleged inconsistencies and flip flops are actually pretty convincing.

7. Dean's core supporters don't care about Sunday show gaffes and pratfalls, New York Times editorials, or what Terry McAuliffe or the Dingells think.

8. People actually listen to Dean talk at his events.

9. Dean's willingness to cede control to volunteers in the states for planning events and executing political activities is an act of confidence and strength, and has directly resulted in his drawing unprecedentedly large crowds and building genuine grassroots support.

10. Most Washington Democrats who are scared out of their wits about Howard Dean as their nominee have never been to a Dean event and don't have a genuine understanding of WHY he has succeeded this year.

11. Skipping the matching funds is a general election strategy, not a strategy for winning the nomination.

12. Governors do well as presidential candidates, and the members of Congress who are running against Dean still for the most part haven't learned not to talk like they are from Washington ("We CAN get Breaux-Gilchrest out of conference!!!! We can DO it!!!! And then passed by both chambers!!!"). Dean talks like a real person, and voters like that.

13. Dean is no newcomer to national politics; his work on the NGA and DGA (where he recruited ruthlessly) gives him as much applicable experience as almost anyone else running.

14. Howard Dean doesn't have cable TV.

15. Howard Dean has not developed a general-election winning message on the economy — yet.

16. Dean can theoretically win a general election race against President Bush, but not without growing significantly as a candidate and a person, including and especially in his rhetorical and symbolic relationship to faith, family, freedom, and national security.

17. All of the other five major candidates think they can and should be in the end the Dean Alternative, and each has enough hold on key state and national support that they have no incentive or desire to get out of the race and consolidate beyond one of the others. The pro-war candidates in particular are splitting a piece of the pie that is large, but it is still a SPLIT piece.

18. The people who work for DeanforAmerica have FUN, from the interns in Iowa to the senior stuff; the staffs for the other campaigns don't always remember to do that.

Lords,
You are right that I didn't give Dean and his campaign credit where it is due, especially 9. Keeping the people involved in the campaign and letting them take over the drivers seat is another way to keep them invested in his candidacy, beyond occasional donations or pamphleteering. I think 18 is an extention of 9 too, because it is more fun when you know you have a stake in the direction than just taking orders.

I'd be the last person on earth to say that Bush hasn't been given a pass by the Republicans, but it's like a cultural difference between Republicans and Democrats. It's almost as if they don't care about the issues as long as the person has an (R) after his name on the ballot. Democrats, Independents, and those moderate Republicans who do pay attention to the issues, are the ones less likely to give anyone a pass for his mistakes and gaffes. It might be my own Democratic bias, but I see us as the party of critical thinkers, that means everyone gets close scrutiny.

Damien, I don't think all of Deans supporters are dupes, but I do see how his campaign has some of them locked in no matter what dopey thing he does next, and you know there will be a next time. If this is the first time you have ever been involved in a campaign, and if this is the only time you have ever spent both time and money, and if you are giving money you can't afford, then you have so much invested that unless it turns out the guy is a serial killer you are not going to switch sides. You have to admit this is true of many of Deans supporters, not that they are dupes who should switch sides, but that the personal investment of some is as I described. It's a very big plus to Dean to have these dedicated and fiercely loyal people on his side, I just hope it is worth their and possibly my investment. I am serious when I say that if he gets the nomination, I'm throwing my efforts into getting him elected.

Damian, I'm sorry I keep misspelling your name. I knew someone in college who spelled it the other way.

DMJ,

No worries. I get "Damon" a lot, too.

DMJ:

It was not only the Repuglicans who gave Bush a pass, the Dems gave him an even bigger one. Look here, as I write this the Palme affair is going on. I haven't heard news about this in ages. The Dems in Congress should be jumping up and down banging their high chairs accusing Bush & Ashcroft of every sin under the sun. That poor woman should be our Mother Theresa, no, Jessica Lynch, and look at how those brutal sons-of bitches put her life in danger. A daily rant, just like what THEY did about Reagan. Instead, Bush is getting a pass. Again.

This is why I ask you to join me now in fully supporting Dean, because with him all this nonsense is going to stop. He isn't afraid to go after Bush the way he should be gone after. He isn't afraid to render Bush as completely illegitimate. A liar & a thief.

Once Dean gets the nomination you can expect heaps of articles and news reports about his anger and his meanness. Pundits and polls will come together to warn us that the American people don't want negative advertising. There'll be a lot of talk about the Dean planning to destroy the Prez. We will also be told that people like Bush and want to see him treated with respect.

If He were one of the other Dems, he'd buy into that BS just as Gore and Dukakis did. And Gray Davis just recently. But not my Howard. He'll spell out the lies in unvarnished language and if it sounds vicious then so be it -- Willie Horton worked. DMJ, this is a different kind of Democrat -- The old-fashioned kind.

Cheers, and have a great weekend.

PS: I hope Linda is a little better today,

It should be interesting to see how the next few months play out. I'm not at all convinced that Dean in the shoo-in that his most committed followers think he is. There's such a weird skew to how the first handful of primaries play out. I'm sure New Hampshire loves their perceived roll as king maker but a whole lot can change with the much more geographically diverse Super Tuesday. Again, I'd love to know where others are posting from. As much as we'd love to be a nation without internal borders, geography does impact what you see when you look at these candidates and how you imagine the next twelve months ending.

I feel compelled to mention that Clark supporters have a great time as well. We also listen when Clark speaks, as do a great many other people. Good times, attentiveness and passionate belief aren't the property of any individual candidate.

One last point, I don't think anyone can anticipate completely how far the Repugs will go to hold onto the presidency. It will be beyond nasty to say the least. I think it's interesting that Clark, when considering whether to heed an overwhelming cry for him to join the race, said that he knew the race ultimately would be about how much pain you can endure (the candidates and their families). It's truly amazing to me that any of these people can step forward. Why they do may vary, from personal ambition to genuine belief that they owe all service to their country. No matter, I find it courageous.


Under foreign rule in Kentucky,

Linda

There is no doubt in my mind that if Dean gets the nomination the result will be much like what happened to Walter Mondale when he ran on raising taxes and won one state. I have several Republican friends and they are all hoping and praying that Dean gets the nomination. They were not very concerned with Clark until I sent them the most recent poll results in South Carolina. They both told me that "Well, if Clark wins I could stomach that" and they looked a little nervous. In national polling Clark does well with white men and independents. When was the last time a Democratic candidate appealed to the angry white male? Clark shores up all the Democratic weakness including Defense, National Security, Taxes, Angry White Male, Independents, Liberal Republicans, Military People, Veterans and the list goes on. Clark also comes across as more humble and kind and I think is more likable than Dean. Dean is a polarizing figure, seems Angry, Arrogant and shoots off the cuff. Clark is reserved, thinks before he speaks and has tones of foreign affairs experience with leaders around the world. As a volunteer to the Vietnam War he is preceded as very patriotic which the Democrats have had trouble with. I don't think there is any comparison here. I will say that Dean would probably go after Bush harder but that could backfire and make Dean look mean and fire up the Republican base. Clark will also run better in the South than Dean. This is a no-brainer I hope the Democrats around the country open up their eyes or we could be in a world of hurt with Dean. However, I would support Dean all the way if he wins. Dean is closer to me on most of the issues than Clark but what's important is who can win.

A few months before the 2000 elections, I put this situation to a friend: If you are the Governor of a state, and your brother is running for president, wouldn't you do everything in your power to make damned sure that your brother won your state? It seemed so obvious to me, yet I was told, that I was too cynical. Maybe I am.

I agree with Linda's point that the Republicans will go to any lengths to win the next election. She knows it, I know it, we all know it. There is already talk about their rigging electronic voting machines. We know that they play dirty & will stop at nothing. We know they will try to block minorities from going to the polls, render them all as criminals if they have to, they may even put out flyers that election day is Nov. 9th instead of the 2nd, and who knows what else they will try. We also know that the media will probably be on their side.

To know is to predict and to predict, sometimes to control. But in spite of our KNOWING all that we know, I see no signs that the Democrats are planning in any way to countervail their shenanigans. We seem to be waiting until they act so we can then gripe.

IMHO a campaign should already have been started in union halls, black churches, etc, defining the Republicans as liars, bullies & thieves who intend to steal the next election if they feel they have to, as we also educate people about their voting rights. A sort of quick response strategy if you will.

Linda's second point is also well taken. But again, I lament the fact that we Democrats are always the ones who are worried about what our candidates have to endure. I pray for the day when THEY will be the ones who worry about what THEIR candidates will have to endure if they mess with one of ours. Instead I keep hearing from most of my Democratic friends: WE won't stoop to their level. . ." As long as that's how we feel we will lose. I keep asking why are we so afraid of them? As far as I'm concerned this is one more reason to be FOR Dean. Like the man said: You get in my face, I'm going to get in yours."

Lords.

Deja Vu all over again.
So the Republicans want Dean eh? They should be careful what they wish for. In 1980 Hamilton Jordan, Jody Powell, Eizenstadt, and their boss Jimmy Carter were all hoping that Reagan would be the one they'd have to run against.

AGAINST BUSH:
Clark wins the military vote. Dean cannot.
Clark wins some southern states. Dean cannot.
Clark wins all three of the big swing states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Dean wins Michigan. The other two are really maybes, with Ohio being almost certain for Bush.
Clark wins Kentucky, W. Virginia and Tennesee. With Dean as the candidate, Bush wins those.
The main thrust of Bush's campaign will be "We made America safer and will continue to do so". Clark takes that away. Dean criticizes.
A No-Brainer, people.
If you want to win in 2004, you go with a candidate who can beat GWB. It isn't Dean. If he gets the nomination, of course, I'll support him. But I feel it will be an exercise in futility.

To take a step back from questions of character and position where Dean vs. Clark is concerned, I think it might be helpful to consider the campaign strategies each offers. Unless public opinion shifts significantly over the next eight months, a Dean candidacy will amount to a referendum on gay marriage, which puts the party in a defensive position. A Clark candidacy amounts to a referendum on the Bush Doctrine, which puts the party on the offensive. While I have little taste for Clark's politics (his support for a flag protection amendment crosses a significant line for me), and while Dean, despite his misleading posturing, remains a very compelling candidate, we do need to consider, whether we like it or not, which of the two campaign scenarios above will be the best both for the strategy of our party and the health of our nation. Gay rights are important; sound foreign policy is crucial. Neither are possible unless we oust Bush.