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Let There Be Peace in the Valley

And there just might be. One of the great virtues of Dean's flame-out in this race is that the leading candidate for the nomination, Kerry, and the possible, though not very likely alternative, Edwards, are both candidates who are basically acceptable to all wings of the party, especially the traditionally feuding New Democrat and liberal wings.

It wasn't so long ago (a month?) that the DLC was launching polemic after polemic against the dread forces of Mondale-McGovernism (chiefly Dean and maybe Gephardt too if they were in a particularly surly mood) which were taking over the Democratic party and leading it down the road to perdition and certain defeat. Never mind that there was a lot more to Dean and Deanism than that--the battle was joined and all the players reported to their appointed places to cudgel one another mercilessly.

If Dean had become the nominee, the kind of party unity the Democrats need might very well have been lacking. Combine that with the fact that Dean in important ways was not the Democrats' strongest general election candidate and the stage was set for an unending round of finger-pointing and blood-letting.

But we've dodged that bullet. Both Kerry and Edwards should be able to do the necessary job of synthesizing the approaches of different wings of the party into a strong general election message that all will feel enthusiastic about supporting. A message like, say......"a positive, middle-class populism".

Whose phrase? Why Al From's, of course, used to describe Kerry's and Edward's campaign messages. This from a man who used to shrink from the word "populism" like it was a deadly poison. Now to the untutored eye it might appear that Kerry's populism (good!, according to Chairman Al) and Gore's populism (bad!, according to Chairman Al) seem to share much in common and even some of the same phrases.

But what the heck. Who's counting. What From is really signalling here is that Kerry's mix of messages, which will include both populism (as it should) and positive, forward-looking programs (as it should) will be acceptable to him, even if Kerry isn't quite a card-carrying New Democrat.

In fact, the DLC appears willing to make him (and Edwards and even Clark) honorary members simply for not being Howard Dean! In their broadside today, they annoint all three of them as having "solid New Democrat credentials".

Well, DR doesn't know if they do. He doesn't even care. But provided we get everyone on board for the Kerry (or Edwards) candidacy, such pronouncements--from any wing of the party--are perfectly OK. For peace in the valley, DR's willing to put up with a certain amount of BS.

Comments

Just to make the obvious point, the best scenario of all would be for both Kerry and Edwards to be on the ticket.

Edwards is a big talent, but he clearly needs some grooming and experience under his belt, which being a VP would accomplish very well.

He could be quite the Democratic phenom after this, which could serve Democrats well for many years to come.

Aren't you forgetting some people when you say "In fact, the DLC appears willing to make him (and Edwards and even Clark) honorary members simply for not being Howard Dean! In their broadside today, they annoint all three of them as having 'solid New Democrat credentials.'
"Well, DR doesn't know if they do. He doesn't even care. But provided we get everyone on board for the Kerry (or Edwards) candidacy, such pronouncements--from any wing of the party--are perfectly OK"? Is it an effective way to get Dean people on board to anoint his rivals as acceptable simply because they are not Dean? I want every single hardcore Dean supporter to vote for whoever is the Democratic nominee. But is this an effective way of achieving that? If all the other competitors are deemed acceptable by the DLC, and Dean is not, do you just expect Dean supporters to forget about that? If Dean's achievements are not acknowledged by the Party, and his "flame-out" greeted with relief and even celebration, is that not an invitation to Dean supporters to disaffection? I say this not as a threat but as a fact: the bullet has not been dodged yet. It can be very easily dodged, but even your post, positively conciliatory relative to what comes from From, is not encouraging.

DR says: "basically acceptable to all wings of the party, especially the traditionally feuding New Democrat and liberal wings."

Just what exactly other "wings" are out there? No wonder this bird has a hard time getting off the ground.

If "peace in the valley" is truly your wish -- rather, say, than sticking Clark and Dean supporters in the eye -- you would be well advised to clap the trap.

Otherwise, carry on.

Yeah, I really care what Al From considers electable. He and the DLC have sure taken the Dem party far haven't they?

Thanks, DR, for completely neglecting the hundreds of thousands of Democrats, Independents and Republicans who joined the Dean campaign looking for a real alternative.

Your piece fails to mention that the majority of the talking points that make up "Mr Electability's" and Edwards's "positive, middle-class populism" were taken almost phrase-by-phrase from Dean's campaign.

Also, I think a strong case could be made that the record turnout we are seeing in the primary states is not only due to a widespread hatred of Bush (that test truly comes in the general), but also to energized voters (including the couple of thousand Rs in NH who wrote in D candidates) who were attracted to the fire and vigor that Dean brought this year.

It seems clear that much more people are energized and voting now that Ds are speaking out and standing up for principles, two things that 8 years of DLC rule have failed to inspire.

... but since I'm not feeling peacable at the moment, might I point out that the road to perdition is well marked in Donkey Rising's favorite book? You know, the one that suggests demographic change is the salvation of the Democratic Party.

Tsk. Tsk. Such is the dream of the slothful -- not of those who seek a majority in the present, and realize it through innovation and hard work.

"Your piece fails to mention that the majority of the talking points that make up "Mr Electability's" and Edwards's "positive, middle-class populism" were taken almost phrase-by-phrase from Dean's campaign."

I saw Edwards on C-SPAN about a year ago in one of Tom Harkin's Iowa meet-the-candidates forums, and his message was the same as it is today. This was a few months before Dean was considered the front-runner, and long before anyone paid any real attention to Edwards. He doesn't need any other candidates to tell him what phrases to use, or how to package his message. So, Dean supporters, while your guy has done some great things, certainly with demonstrating the fund-raising/organizational potential of the internet, IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT HIM in this campaign. Nor is it all about you.

Seems that some other people were struck by the tone and message of this latest DR post, as I was. I know that the DLC has not been a fan of Dean lately, and I don't know if Ruy has ever been, but this whole debate about electibility has increasingly struck me as other-worldly.

Yes, Dean has some perception problems, some recent, some longer term, and in politics perception is reality. But I'm a little dumbfounded by the idea that somehow Kerry or Edwards is more mainstream or electible than Dean. (i.e. that they somehow don't carry negative baggage that will create a negative impression. Those perceptions are what led everyone to ignore Kerry for four months as uninteresting and unelectible.) National polls are driving some of this, but just ask Joe Lieberman (heck, ask Dean) about national poll leads.

I hesitate to quote David Brooks, who has increasingly become reliably wing-nutty, but he (rightly, I think) pointed the other night on PBS that Demos are trying to choose someone based on who they think other people will like in ten months. They are choosing the candidate they believe will best inoculate them from attack, and the safest option to beat Bush.

What frustrates me watching this, and reading today's post, is that I don't see any actual analysis here. What makes Edwards a good potential running mate, much less a good potential president? What makes Kerry a strong candidate from President? Mostly, we talk about how they will appeal in some general sense to a voter in the general election—ignoring issues and message and just about anything else except war records and telegenics.

I can see clearly how Kerry looks like the usual and safe candidate, but seriously, what possible strength does he actually bring to this campaign? Has Kerry's strategy been especially brilliant? The polls don't show that. They show that he is the candidate that people THINK has the best shot of beating Bush. (As if they've just discovered him—Look! A war hero!)

But as good statisticians like DR know, you can't be Bush with those voters who hate him. So the question is simply, in the general election, why should people vote for John Kerry?
I've looked at his policies, his positions, his vision. What is inspiring there? It's the same old warmed-over stuff that have lost the Democrats more elections than its won. (On the same note, Edwards, for all his charm and charisma, still hasn't come up with a strong rationale for his own candidacy, beyond the upbeat cheerleading that is devoid of actual substance more often than not.)

Look, I have been (and in many respects am still) a Dean supporter. But what has been remarkable about him, and what made me support him, was that his candidacy was intelligent and creative, and he himself a very different sort of politician. (By which I mean, he says what politicians rarely say—what everyone else in the room is thinking.)

It's totally fair to knock his campaign for its mistakes. It's fair to knock him for missteps along the way. But this argument that he is "less electible" is just a load of pseudo-intellectual crap. He does not fit into the mold prescribed. That's true. He has a lot of work to do in the South and Mid-West, but that's also true of Kerry. And when it comes down to it, what we should be judging these candidates on is how they can direct the tone of the upcoming campaign.

Dean did not create the message that Edwards is now presenting (at least, not the touchy-feely "two Americas" part), but Dean has dramatically changed the conversation in the campaign, and in part in America as well. He's given the other Democrats a pulse, when they were too scared to speak and too timid to say what now they say every day.

So will the other Dems now become him? Pick up and run with the torch they have taken from him? Maybe. I don't think that only Dean can beat Bush, but at the very least, people should look more closely at the candidate they are considering throwing away and stop playing everything so damn safe.

"Peace in the valley" sounds like flaccid 2002 talk to me. The "establishment" foolishly thought that there should in effect be a coronation of a candidate with a front-loaded primary schedule. First it got burned when it looked like anti-establishment Dean would be the man. Then it turns out that a spirited competition with guns turned on each other but also regularly on Bush has raised the Democrats' profile and lowered Bush's. "Peace in the valley" is precisely what Bush wants. Why should DR want the same thing? Hasn't DR learned that neither the DLC, nor the DNC should be counted on to know how best to beat Republicans?

I would be pretty happy to see a Kerry/Edwards ticket. One question though, is what happens to the Senate in that scenario? Two dems out...

Mr. Electibility needs to show that he can credibly respond to the Massachusetts court ruling on gay marriage. Particularly if things are going to go bad for them, repubs will try to turn Mr. Electibility into Mr. Gay Marriage Patrician from People's Republic of Taxachusetts.

Mr. Electibility needs to address the culturlal divide around this issue without sounding like the phony, calculating politician who voted for the Bush tax cut in May 2001, the Patriot Act a few month later, and the Iraq war in the fall of 2002.

"Anyone But Dean" eh? I guess looking at the election in terms of "what would be better for the country" and "how can we win" are two completely different things. How sad.

Well, from a DLC viewpoint what's not to like about "Mr. Electability". He was pro-war, pro-Patriot Act, and pro-Bush tax cuts. That really does not appeal to this Dean supporter much at all.

The theme I continually pound on to anyone who will listen is - don't get too hung up on individual candidates! What really matters is which party controls the White House and therefore controls appoinments all through the executive and judicial branches.

The Repubs understand this, which is why they went with a dunce who could win on name recognition.

If you fall in love with your candidate and then pout like a scorned lover if he doesn't make it, you are setting the stage for four more years of Republican domination of three branches of government.

Ruy, you talk about party unity and how that might not have been possible with Dean. Well my friend I think you are way off the mark.

The tone of your post alienates Dean supporters. Other Dems do the same in their writings. With that you all expect unity?

I think you are taking Dean people for granted just like many Black voters feel like they are taking for granted. I think it is time you all wake up and smell the coffee.

There are many Dean supporters who take offence to the attitude you display here in you post and swear they will not support anyone else but Dean. I have worked hard to convince them that is not the proper course and we must unite to rid ourselves of Bush. To many are not going to listen to that argument thanks to posts and article like yours. Insults gather no honey

As I read the arrogance in your's and other's posts I start to think that maybe they are not 'all wrong'. You seem to just assume that we will fall in line like good little Republicans. Opps! I meant like good little Democrats. But perhaps my Freudian slip is only a reflection of the attitude you and others display.

Perhaps today your post has helped coin a new acronym. DINO. Democrat In Name Only. Is that how you view us?

As you said there are two wings, "New Democrat and liberal wings" (and I find it interesting you capitalized the former and minimized the later).

As long as you and others see it that way then the party is destined to continue the path of lost House and Senate seats that the 'New Democrats' have brought us.

So allow me to coin a new term here. New Century Democrats. Those are people who are SINCERELY Socially progressive, fiscally conservative, and are for reeling in Corporate special interests.

I say SINCERELY to distinguish between the growing movement that is not going to go away and those of you who latch on to 'today's' catch phrase, whatever it might be.

Welcome us in or kiss us goodbye. Or should I say We welcome you in or kiss you goodbye.

If you do not start showing some respect for us New Century Democrats you will never get all our votes and you can not afford that. Think about it. Do you attract voters to the party through alienation? No, you attract nobody to anything through alienation. So why do you do it? You seem to be more intelligent than that yet you make the most basic mistake of politics. Amazing!

If Gov. Dean loses the nomination 'as you wish for' I hope he will start a new political organization, The New Century Democrats. An organizationthat will represent the growing millions of citizens who are fed up with the politics as usual that you and others seem so willing to preach.

Then it will be the DNC & DLC big money versus the People who have shown a new resolve to put their money where their hearts are.

History has always show that in the end the people and their votes always win out over the self-proclaimed powerful.

We are a small but loud voice now but with the help of organizations like MoveOn.org, 527's, and people like Soros whose vision goes beyond ABB, we will become more powerful. And you should start to realize that.

Either show us some respect and give us a seat at the table or participate in a further spit of your party.

It's your choice.

Alex Trujillo
Business Owner
53 years young.

>So allow me to coin a new term here. New Century Democrats. Those are people who are SINCERELY Socially progressive, fiscally conservative, and are for reeling in Corporate special interests.


Well said!! I'm all for it. Sick and tired of the same ol same ol year in and year out out of Iowa and New Hampsire. New Century Democrats. I like it.

Kerry did NOT vote for the Bush tax cuts in 2001. Do facts mean nothing in this debate? We're not Republicans, people. Let's not say that "X" happened when in fact "not X" happened. Leave that to the Bush administration and its defenders.

Absolutely don't count Dean dead just because the media says so. Go to his site, www.deanforamerica.com and Please note that this morning, contributions are at a record-bashing $50,000 per HOUR!!!!

Bravo, Alex.
These last 2 lines merit repeating.
"Either show us some respect and give us a seat at the table or participate in a further spit of your party."

We are facing a hard realistic truth. In a Darwinian process we must select the candidate who can defeat Bush. A party divided will fall. Lets face it. Its time to make a hard choice. If Dean doesnt win VA, Mich, Maine, Was, Tenn, or Wisconsin on February 17th then he should take a lead from Lieberman. Bow out graciously.

Ram,

Dean has said if he does not win Wisconsin he will bow out.

That said I have donated $ once again to his success in Wisconsin and obviously wish him well there.

FYI our party is already divided by the likes of the DLC and posts like Ruy's today.

Personally I will vote for the Democratic nominee but unfortunately many will either not vote or will engage in a write-in campaign.

Those in our own party who participated in an assassination campaign against Dean are responsible for this loss of unity.

I used to think that only Republican 'ate their own'. Now I see that our own party is just as cannibalistic.

Well said Alex! It seems DR and others, like Eric Alterman, are under the false impression that Dean supporters were some fringe element of the far left, Naderites or worse -- Stalinists. When in fact we're mostly typical middle-aged, middle-class types -- I'm a 39-year old librarian -- who are concerned about the fiscal madness, crony capitalism, and social conservatism that is the Bush Admin.

It's a shame that the message from DR, Al From, and other beltway types is f**** off. I think they are losing a group of committed field workers; who might also part with a few hundred bucks.

I honestly don't understand why the DLC had such a bee in their bonnet about Dean. But neither do I understand why Dean supporters feel like they "won't have a seat at the table."

Politics is as much, or more, about emotions as it is about policies or issues. People often make judgements about whether a job-interview candidate is worthy or not in the first 5-10 seconds of an interview, perhaps even before the interviewee has opened his mouth. What kind of impression does s/he make. I think its the same for politics. It's not so much the positions he takes as how people feel about him. Clearly, his supporters fell VERY favorable, but this support has yet to be widespread enough to put him over the top.

One of the big qualifications for a president is that you have to be able to craft a message that is appealing to a majority of voters, and you have to be able to get that message out effectively. I think that Dean has struggled so far with the second part rather than the first.

I wish he had taken the John McCain tack with reporters, befriended them, called them by name, know their kids names, and so on. As it is, the media doesn't seem to like him very much, and as much as they try to be fair, this kind of thing leaks out. The media gave Bush a pass on many things in 2000, I think its because he was so personable and friendly to them in person.

Perhaps this is just the sort of thing that, to his supporters, makes him so attractive -- he doesn't kiss ass. I don't think its and either/or issue, you can both kiss and kick ass, the difficulty is figuring out how.

In my humble opinion I dont believe there was an assasination campaign by Democrat insiders. "Inside the Belt Way" Al Gore and Senator Tom Harkin endorsed Dean early. He gathered an amazing internet driven grassroots campaign. Raised millions of dollars and emerged as the front runner.

When you become the front runner the target automatically is on your back. Media was persistent in questioning his electability, Dean attacked Gephardt and Gephardt returned fire, 3rd place Iowa, the over exuberant Iowa speech in front of national tv...from then Dean faltered in NH, Super Tue, etc Dean to his credit has brought alot of energy and a fresh perspective which I liked.

Though, in all fairness elections are based on who can appeal not to just liberals and new century democrats but the swing voting mushy middles, southerners, independents, and disgruntled republicans. We will see how the primaries play out. Anyone but Bush!

Gotta quibble with Jay here:

"One of the big qualifications for a president is that you have to be able to craft a message that is appealing to a majority of voters, and you have to be able to get that message out effectively. I think that Dean has struggled so far with the second part rather than the first. "

This is total BS. I'm not saying that Dean's campaign couldn't do a better job, but if anyone thinks that any of these other candidates has done a better job of conveying their message, I'd like to know who you've been talking to.

Exit polls have been very clear. Undecided voters have begun to shift, and they have begun to shift in large numbers toward Kerry for one major reason: they believe that he is the most electible. Dean was hurt badly in the bruhaha following Iowa (and in the sharp negative battle with Gephardt leading up to it). But the biggest reason for the shift is that there were other candidates to whom people could run. Kerry hung around and was suddenly the choice of people who saw no reason why his great war record and long tenure in Congress wouldn't be the best choice—and we still have no idea how he will do in an actual campaign. Now he has momentum. He is the frontrunner. He seems electible because he beats Bush in meaningless national polls and he's winning primaries.

I give Dean a lot of credit. He was ruthlessly attacked by Gephardt in Iowa and fought back hard, and still ended up doing better than Gephardt in his own back yard. It's important for the Democrats left to throw fire Kerry's way because we have no idea how his candidacy will stand up under that pressure, and it will be best to see that BEFORE we choose the candidate, not after.

(Why are the Rs suddenly so silent about Kerry? Is it because they have nothing to say? Is it because they think, rightly or wrongly, that his will be an easier campaign to fight in a general election?)

As an admitted Dean supporter, I should probably say that I will NOT be abandoning the Democratic nominee in the fall. Some Dean supporters will (like the independents and Republicans I would often see in Meet-ups). All I'm arguing is that a primary is NOT a general election (nine candidates vs. two) and contrary to "the story," Dean has done fairly well defining himself. Not perfectly, mind you, and he's had to deal with the repeated problem of the press labeling him the "anti-war" candidate and then criticizing him for not going beyond that—even after they have just reported one major policy speech or another.

He has been dramatically misrepresented in the mainstream press. (If Dean is a liberal then Bush is Ghengis Khan) But with all of these candidates, reporters love talking in shorthand, and that, coupled with their desire to make the race more interesting, did a pretty good job of distorting his message.

Still, anyone who's watched more than two presidential elections knows that once a nominee it chosen, he gets to re-define himself. We saw Clinton do it with incredible grace.

Dean's campaign blog has been an excellent blueprint for a general election campaign (rapid response, setting the issues, calling Bush on his mistakes) and whomever the nominee is should steal as many ideas from there as possible (like the Bush Tax). He would have made an unpredictable and formidable opponent in the fall.

I worry that with Kerry, we're following much more the script that Rove wants.

Does the DLC realize the damage they're doing here?

I know damn well that From and Reed would have undermined Dean as much as possible if he were nominated, so they could say I told you so. I also know that they would love to perpetuate the horrendous strategy that led us to 2002's results. Which Dean has done more than anyone else to help us come back from, whether he's the nominee or not.

You're not helping either, by the way. No, Kerry is not acceptable to a lot of Dean supporters. I think he will be, but it'll be hard to convince a few Dean supporters to vote for him and hard to convince many Dean supporters to work actively for or donate to him. Gratuitous attacks on Dean do not help.

New Democrats--please, please consider joining the NDN instead of the DLC. Contrast Rosenberg's most recent post on Trippi to From's.

Hey folks, what's the trouble here? Why do you think Ruy is supporting the DLC and talking-down Dean? Reread his post.

"the DLC was launching polemic after polemic against [Dean]... Never mind that there was a lot more to Dean and Deanism than that."

Let he pokes fun at DLC's Al From for coming far enough along to speak positively about "populism."

The split that Ruy is saying we avoided was the split between the DLC and Dean camps. He's not blaming Dean for this, he's just saying that we've pulled back from both sides of the spectrum.

I personally hope he's right. While there are reasons to be disappointed with Kerry, there are many more reasons to be very happy with him. And we'll need everyone's shoulder to the wheel to get through this election with a win.

Andrew,
I agree they aren't attacking Dean NOW. The problem is, somebody just kidney punched me, kicked me in the face, and now as I lie there gasping and coughing on the ground they offer me their hand. "No hard feelings, eh?"

Why are you writing off Clark? He and Edwards have both won one state each -- and Edward's was his home state! I realize that Clark's win in Oklahoma was narrow, but given the lavish media attention to Kerry and Edwards (and the fact that they've completely ignored Clark), it's impressive that Clark did win -- and that he came in second in three other states.

We "dodged a bullet" by not nominating Dean? Ruy, normally I love your insight, but you need to quit pissing on the guy responsible for all of the energy in the Democratic Party right now. Right after you remove your head from your ass.

What I find most strange is what made Dean the demon to the DLC. When I look at the four candiates remaining he is clearly the conservative choice, not the liberal choice.

Since it wasn't his health platform or trade platform or his balance the budget platform that New Democrats opposed, I am left to conclude it was the fact he was an outsider and ran against special interests. How much of the Washington Democratic establishment that was against Dean was due to a fear of loss of influence?

As a 49-year-old Dean supporter I see his flaws, since December he has run a terrible mass media campaign, but the New Democrats embracing further left candidates as long as they are establishment or large donor group left candidates to me says it is all about power and money.

The Dean campaign was about bringing power back to the people sick of what is happening to our country. The campaign was about telling the Democratic establishment to put up, fight back or get out.

As I note former DLC leaders contributing to Bush it appears some have done the later.

Edwards is a good choice as he run a positive campaign and has struck some fine themes. I am unsure if I will do anything more than vote for Kerry if he is the nominee because of his phone dirty tricks campaign against Dean and his lack of a serious record in the Senate.

#1 in Google for liberal news

I agree with most of Dean's moderate-to-liberal positions and admire the Internet fund raising apparatus his campaign put together. His stand on gun control made good sense and I found his message of fiscal responsbility extremely appealing.

And I tried to like the candidate - but I couldn't.

A distinct majority of Democratic voters apparently feel the same way. The proof is in the election results. Dean is a good person but he's a bad candidate.

Of Dean, Kerry, Edwards and Clark, I think Dean would have been by the far the weakest opponent against Bush, though I certainly would have voted for him. For every independent he attracted I think he would have turned off two others who might have voted Democratic. The idea that Dean would have been the best Dem to "energize the base'' was wishful thinking. The base checked him out and didn't like what they saw.

I'm no fan of John Kerry, either, but by the time summer rolls around I'll be on board big time, just as I would have for Dean. It's all about beating Bush.

All you Deaniacs are certainly free to sit out the election or cast a protest vote. But before you do, please think about all the working families who are suffering under Bush.

Interested in How The Media Took Dean Down and why?

Read this article:

http://makethemaccountable.com/podvin/media/040201_TheScream.htm

It is interesting to see how many comments this post generated. The pattern has been consistent since the fall, whenever DR posts about Dean, the number of comments skyrockets. Dean is likely doomed as a candidate, but "Deanism" obviously resonates deeply with many in the party.

What accounts for the electricity Dean generates? IMO, Dean and his campaign plugged into a deep desire for a new, authentic form of politics. Part of it was position (anti-war), more important was his willingness to stand-up for Democratic values, but most important, was the message of empowerment. The message and the messenger were, for the most part, in sync; Dean isn't stiff and careful like Gore, and he isn't slick like Clinton. The best anology I can come up with is to McCain. Dean, like McCain, is actually willing to say what he thinks. Dean was willing to take on the special interests and the power structure of his party. Just as McCain got crushed by lies, distortions, and character assasination in SC in 2000; Dean got crushed in Iowa.

This is not to say that there is some giant anti-Dean conspiracy. The point is that there didn't need to be. There are enough structural and institutional forces within the party, the media, and even the minds of Demo voters to make an insurgent campaign very difficult.

Dean was and is far less of a doctrinaire liberal than Kerry. He has a successful record of fiscal conservatism; a successful record of gradual expansion of health care; and positions on the death penalty and guns that would help eliminate these as Repub wedge issues. Dean's foriegn policy positions, support for Gulf War I and principled opposition to round II, are consistent with the facts and increasingly with the views of a majority of the voters. So why is Dean viewed as a disaster by the DLC, insider moderates like Ruy, and the mainstream Dem leaning media (NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, etc.), while Kerry the true New-England, liberal is viewed as acceptable? The only answer that makes any sense is that Kerry is a known commodity and he is viewed as willing to play ball. My guess is that Dean's famous line about the DLC being the "Republican wing of the Democratic party" really pissed off a lot of people. It showed just how much of a threat Dean was to the power and influence of these people.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Dean got screwed. His record was ignored, his comments were distorted, and his character was slandered. How legitimate was the "unelectable" charge? We will never know. We do know that the insiders and the media found a line of attack and repeated it over and over until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is truly maddening is to see these same people embrace Kerry. Kerry is the embodiment of the New-England,liberal these folks have been warning us about. The level of intellectaul hypocracy is truly stunning. Kerry is Gore from Massachusetts: a stiff, boring, child-of-privlege, insider, who will be attacked for his vasilations, and labeled as a liberal-elitist who is outside the mainstream.

Kerry has appropriated enough of Dean's populist message to win over a plurality of the rank and file of the party. But he is a very imperfect messenger for this message. As more and more of Kerry's special-interest, insider dealings come to light, he will sound like a hypocrite. This is Bush's most fundamental vulnerability and Kerry is going to have a hard time exploiting it because he lives in a glass house.

Kerry's opposition to Gulf War I and his tortured explanations of his position on the current war are going to make it very difficult for him to effectively criticize Bush on this vulnerability as well.

The bottom line: Kerry is poorly positioned to criticise Bush, and highly vulnerable to attack. Dean is damaged beyond repair. That leaves the only game in town for those of us who see the problems with Kerry: Edwards. Edwards certainly has his own vulnerabilities, but it seems obvious to me that he is far better positioned to critique Bush, and far less vulnerable.

Upper Left, you are correct in all ways but one: Issue stands and candidate records don't matter nearly as much as you think.

In other words, if you think everyone out there is a policy wonk who will analyze Kerry's record and say, "hmm, I don't like these inconsistencies" you're mistaken. People will look at the man in a superficial way and make their calls as to whether Bush's attaciks fit, whether Kerry's character is what Bush says it is. I think you'll be surprised at the results.

Dean didn't understand any of this. He thought that you could run for President by just telling the truth and being himself. Big mistake, and for that reason (and a dozen other strategic misfires) he won't be President.

Brilliant,
Please excuse my optimism. I promise never to expect good things to come from telling the truth and being myself ever again.

Brian, if that's the way you live your life, you're a great person by my standards. I share these goals. But you wouldn't have a chance to win any Presidential election. I'm not a phony devil; I merely have a different (IMO valid) view of how to practice Presidential politics for the common good.

I'm sorry you found this to be an excuse to make a snide and deprecating remoark about me. This isn't the first time I've had that happen, always by a Dean supporters. I'm guessing you're one and that you have somehow taken offense. This is not about you and me. This is about Winning. Winning. By any means necessary. In this environment, it's take no prisoners. I bet you and I have identical wishes for how the world *should* be.

Brillliant,

I am under no illusion as to the lack of wonkishness among the voters. It is precisely because of their superficial view that I believe Kerry is so vulnerable.

Close your eyes for a moment and visualize the following Bush ad: Kerry is standing in full embrace with Ted Kennedy on stage in Iowa, the voice over begins, "Can America afford another New-England, liberal as President? In fact, ultra-liberal Senator John Kerry is rated as even further left than Ted Kennedy by the far-left organization Americans for Democratic Action. John Kerry voted to cut defense programs. He voted to cut intelligence programs. Kerry even voted to oppose Gulf War I. John Kerry out of step with American values, out of step with America's need for a strong defense." Now imagine this ad repeated, ad naseum with $200 million, to southern Ohio swing voters. IMO, it isn't a pretty picture.

Brilliant, you suggest that Kerry is less vulnerable than I think he is, why? You make the assertion, but you don't back it up. Do you think the medals he earned thirty five years ago will protect him from charges of vasilation? Leadership equates to strength; strength equates to decisiveness. Kerry's twelve month waffle about the war and his history of taking opportunistic political positions (his recent conversion on the death penalty for terrorists) all combine to make him look indecisive and like just another political opportunist. If you disagree, make your case, rather than just stating your opinion.

You state your opinions as much as anybody here.
In general, I agree with Ruy on almost every call he makes. He substantiates so I don't have to.

I'll try to add someting new. First of all, Kerry's "waffling" is BS. I understood his war position from day 1, his statements make sense to me. If you're confused by them, well, a lot of voters are confused by the truckload of information regarding the war. He's able to claim ground that a lot of regular voters stand on, of trusting the President and then being lied to.

So far, his favorabl/unfavorables are very good. That's a good starting point.

A voting record, IMO, won't kill any candidate for President. All of Kerry's votes can be rebutted in kind - Kerry has many pro-military votes, etc. It's absurd to conceive of people believing he's "weak." What will happen in the case of attacks that you anticipate is that they will fire back on Bush's credibility. Bush has pulled as many 180's as Kerry. That's a wash.

Nobody is going to believe that Kerry doesn't want to keep America secure - he's risked his life for the U.S. Yes, the medals count, but in a way that enables *character* definition, which nobody else in this race but Clark can do. Kerry and Clark can imply that Bush is a coward. Tactically Kerry is quite able to play dirty, and I think he will.

The northeastern Liberal Ted Kennedy thing - weak hit. I hope they try it. It won't work in Ohio, outside of Right-leaners or relig conservatives, because this isn't 1974 or 1986. Demographics have changed, and the old pejoriative of "Ted Kennedy Liberal" is out of date - except in GOP fundraising mail. They won't vote for Dems anyway.

Fear of crime isn't what it was 15 years ago. I dearly hope they think they can try Willie Horton again. Go Karl!

Bush is going to run on "how secure You Feel." 9-11 and 9-12. Character, and taxes. That's all he's got. A steady, experienced, if dull, but competent on-message Kerry is absolutely good enough to counter this Bush appeal. Of course it'll be tough, but I think he's been through enough big state elections and has a top tier team. So far his message discipline and yes, ability to connect, has proven pretty good. Funny, veterans and many Dem voters so far seem to think he's not too dull to nominate. Think about 2000 - we had two dullards, even though one of them was as honest and good as can be (Bradley).

It's all opinion. Nobody knows. You and I apparently have very different views on what plays and why. I don't believe I've convinced you of anything. But I took the time to write to hint that there's more than just shallow opinionating going on here. I could write paragraph after paragraph in detail about different lines of attack and how Kerry might parry, and vice versa, but that would be dull. (confession: I work in the biz)

A more interesting debate is how Kerry compares to, say, Edwards. I think Edwards might lose security votes in the Midwest that Kerry could get, but Edw could possibly pick up a smaller Southern state with populist cultural appeal. Both are probably equally competitive in FL, IMO. Edwards has better big-picture message ability and sunniness (peerless in this field) - but message like this can be co-opted.

Brilliant,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I reread my post and think I owe you a bit of an apology; I was a bit cranky earlier. I have read your posts for many months and it is obvious that you are thoughtful and informed. Given that I aspire to the same qualities, I find it quite interesting that you and I seem to disagree so frequently.

Sometime I think it all gets done to gut reactions to candidates and positions. We react and then build elaborate intellectual arguments to buttress our emotional opinions. I certainly cop to having been wrong about Dean. I overestimated his ability to respond effectively to the intense criticism he started recieving in November, and I underestimated the ferocity of the media. I read the NY Times and Washington Post daily and was stunned by the daily pounding they gave him. There was only a paper thin veneer of objectivity.

On the other hand, I believe both you and Ruy were equally wrong about Clark. I could see his vulnerability to the "not a real Dem charge" and that his lack of experience and nuance on domestic issues would effect his ability to connect with voters.

I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts on Kerry vs. Edwards. I have made it clear that I think Edwards is better positioned, but I can see that he has his own vulnerabilities. If Edwards can sweep Tennessee and Virginia, do you think he can turn this into a real horse race?

Likewise, upper left, Brilliant and others, I am most interested in further discussion on whether Kerry or Edwards would be the better choice.

In Tuesday's Virginia primary my heart wants to vote for Edwards. My head is demanding a satisfactory response to the attacks he would face as someone who "won't keep us safe."

If either of you were in charge of developing strategy for Edwards in the general election what would be your recommendations on that question, other than the obvious one of emphasizing domestic issues?

Brilliant,
My comment wasn't a personal insult, though it was snide.
I honestly think that, given the chance, independents in this country will jump to vote for a McCain or a Dean who bucks standard party lines. I am not the only Dean supporter who supported McCain in 2000.

The fact we're having this conversation about "party unity" if Dean had won surely reflects more on the DLC than anybody else. On the other hand, they are unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Dean movement, on the other hand, may well evaporate after Wisconsin.

well, i'm gonna revert to discussing style again, because I think it's so important. So far I like the back and forthing I hear between Kerry and Bush. Bush is defensive.

I love Edward's unrelenting optimism. It's rare, I think. And he's great at formulating big picture messages that anyone can understand. The question is, does that compensate for what some might see as greenness. My gut says it might help him peel off a small Southern state that Kerry might not. I do suspect that Edwards is a little bit more electable. I think Kerry's military service appeals as patriotism (not foreign policy brilliance). That could carry more weight with Indep males than is currently supposed.

I'll say this: I predict Edwards will be President someday. He can run for many more cycles.

With Kerry I've seen a lot of improvement in the campaign (duh - he sucked in 03), which is a good sign. He can shift gears, and learn from mistakes. He might even loosen up some more. I think right now, even though he ain't exactly James Brown, he's looser than Gore or Dole ever were. Those who hate him will never concede this.

I think in the end Kerry or Edwards will be running on the same message, similar to what you're hearing now (a form of Clintonian 3rd way modified activist liberalism spiced with can-do populism, whatever the hell you wanna call it) )though Edw would probably always be a little better on the stump delivering it. Great ticket, maybe with Clark attached in some way like Bush latched onto Powell.

Brian, I thought that if McCain could have gotten the nomination, he would have won. But the power brokers wanted to stop him. I think if McCain were 12 years younger, he would see that he should switch parties and then he could pull off a Dem nomination sometime around his age now. But it's too late. I'm sure there are others like you, but I think there are as many others who would be turned off by Dean as turned on.

He turned me off (on first, then off, then maybe on again, then finally way off) , and I have a lot of respect for him as a politician (that's what I think he is, not a saint.) I just think Dean made so many mistakes starting in December, just when press and public interest started glowing white hot.

I think a well managed and disciplined Howard Dean would have been a formidable candidate (I think he has some unique assets and a seeming fearlessness - which at bad moments can look like recklessness to some) , but I think Dean was just in over his head, thinking that he could run for President in the same way that he ran for Governor. Too bad he didn't challenge Gore in 2000; he'd have been much better this time. He's got a lot of damage repair to do now if he wants to go again. But John Edwards will be in the way.

Many, many others have said this once before and it bears repeating -- if it wasn't for Howard Dean, John Kerry would still be sounding much like Joe Lieberman.

So please, let's avoid any further self-congratulatory tomes about the "great virtues of Howard Dean's flame-out." Why must DLC-affiliated Democrats insist on needlessly antagonizing those Democrats outside the Beltway loops, whose support you'll most assuredly need in November? It bespeaks of an insider political class that has lost the ability to win with even a modicum of class and grace.

It will also make DR look really stupid if it ends up being followed by a John Kerry "flame-out" in the general election. And it would be especially ironic if that particular melt-down was caused by Democrats who stayed home on Election Day, no doubt discouraged by your rabidly centrist rhetoric, which denigrates the true warriors amongst us in promoting the kind of campaign only a true Beltway courtier could love.

Through the mercurial campaign of Gov. Dean, the Democratic Party once again discovered its soul and and found its fire in the belly, which will be sorely needed if it intends on knocking the Great Pretender out of the White House.

I have to agree with Jeff L. I supported Dean in the caucuses in my state, not without reservations. Equally, I think I can vote for Kerry with a clean conscience--not without some considerable reservations. But there's one thing that I want to make totally clear, as a lifelong Democratic voter: I don't look to the DLC for cues, and their endorsement is one of the most reliable reverse Midas touches. Their absence would be no loss to me or the party. If the sleazy creeps at the DLC think that they somehow define for me what it is to be a Democrat of any kind, they'd better think again. And if the Democratic nominee thinks that embracing the DLC is somehow the key to the hearts of Democratic regulars, that nominee had better think again. Al and the boys in the back room are in no position to anoint anyone, and the sooner they can the crap the better off we'll all be.

Four things: First, I will support the candidate of the democratic party. O.K., you got me. I've voted for every democratic candidate for President since Lyndon Johnson. BUT...I won't do it because of the sanctimonious twaddle of so called "centrists" calling for peace in the valley and cheering what they call the Dean flameout. And I won't do it because I believe the views of Texiera and others like him really represent building a new majority. What they really do is represent conformism and "I know better than you-ism because I'm a senior fellow and you're not" of the kind which makes me grit my teeth.

Second. I will stick with Dean because he has asked me to. The same way he asked me to get involved in the first place. He let me have the freedom to think as I like, to share with people of like mind in person and by the Internet. He never lied to me and he never patronized me. He cared little or nothing for the kind of political correctness I see here, and I could feel quite assured that what he said was what he thought and felt.

Third, when Dean's campain folds, as I'm afraid it will, I am going to do everything I can to keep in contact with the other Dean supporters.. not just because of Howard Dean, but because of who those supporters are...persons far more like me than inside the beltway strategy wonks. We DO want our country back, and we want it back almost as much from you as we want it back from Bush and the captains of cynicism and mendacity who support him. I will urge that some kind of continuing organization be created, and if this happens, I will continue to send money every time this organization raises a bat. I will hope this organization can act as nag and conscience to those who want nothing more than true grass roots movements to fade away, and a platform for those of us who feel mauled by politicos who mistake the resonance of their own voices for wisdom.

Fourth, I will do whatever I can to urge Dean NOT to share his data banks of contributors with the Democratic National Committee. If Kerry, or Edwards, or anyone wants my two cents worth of ideas or two bucks worth of contributions, let them ask for it, and let them convince me that I will be listened to with respect, and that dialogue, not preaching will be the method of leadership. But never let them think that they can simultaneously denigrate the candidate who said I counted and simultaneously assume that they have a right to inherit my passion and energy.

Its to bad DEMOCRATS CANT FIND A GOOD PERSON TO RUN YOU MAKE ME SICK THE LAST PRESIDENT YOU HAD WAS DRAFT DODGER WHY YOU WORRY ABOUT BUSH ARMY RECORD LEAST HE IS DECENT . iCANT STAND THE GUYS YOU ARE RUNNING THEY WOULD MAKE A FOOL OF THEMSELVES IF WOULD BE LUCKY TO BE ELECTED.