Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

August 27, 2003

by V

Finally, some Kerry sense

The Zogby poll and Dean's continued fundraising success have shaken some Kerry supporters up enough that they're starting to take Dean seriously instead of constantly ragging on him as a 'flash in the pan'.

This is a good thing, as the supporters of the two campaigns will need to work together eventually (whoever wins) and it helps if you can share some consensus reality.

The Kerry-blog commenters have sounded pretty deep in denial for a long time. They seem to have a real disdain for Dean and contempt for his supporters, and they seem to refuse to consider the possibility that Dean will be (let alone deserve to be) the nominee.

But their predictions keep not coming true, and it's getting later and later.

This guy's not in denial. His name is Dan, and he runs a Kerry Blog:

Kerry For President: It's time for Kerry supporters to face reality.
Dean is angry, anti-war, and has a web site. But it's time for you to acknowledge there's more to him than that. And more to their campaign than that. Sure the grass-roots movement is a phenomenon, but one that has been carefully organized and grown by Dean's campaign itself. Dean does have actual ideas. Dean is more than just anger. And Dean, combined with a guy like Clark, is not a candidate that is going to win only one state. Having said that, I believe Kerry will win more states, but let's not fool ourselves that Dean is a total flash in the pan.

In my opinion, the Dean campaign is doing this thing exactly right. And no, I think anyone who truly believes they're "peaking too early" is completely deluded. Sure they're sprinting across the country in August, but look at the crowds, look at the enthusiasm, and look at the press coverage. Let's be truthful, if it were Kerry doing it the same crowds wouldn't be turning out in droves.

But can that be sustained, you ask? Of course it can. Two major reasons: 1) how long have you been angry at Bush? For me it's been since he was the Republican nominee for president, and every day more news comes out that pisses me off even more. My energy and anger is only increasing day by day, and so will the Dean campaign's. 2) Dean can pretty much raise money at will now. Sure he's spending a lot on TV spots now, but he'll have more later. He just raised $1 million off his web site in a few days. It took Kerry at least as long to raise $140,000 with his "Send W. back to Crawford" gimmick (which, by the way, was unclear and poorly designed).

Don't get me wrong, I love Kerry... But Kerry is NOT the front-runner. And don't believe for a second that anywhere but #1 is a good thing to be in politics. If you doubt what I am saying, take a look at the Kerry blogs, you'll see the same 10 names over and over again, posting 10-15 times in each topic. On Dean's blog it's hundreds if not thousands of different names...

Two final points: 1) it's not necessarily a terrible thing that Dean is inspiring such enthusiasm. A mobilized army against Dubya is a good thing. CAVEAT: A good thing as long as the Green Party Dean supporters and hard-core left-wingers don't desert the Democratic Party if Dean isn't the nominee. 2) Kerry has his work cut out for him. The crowds that will turn up in SC, NH, etc. are going to be largely manufactured by the campaign and won't be the spontaneous energy Dean generates. His campaign needs to think of new ways of inspiring energy and doing it fast...
Spoken like a rational adult unafraid to acknowledge unpleasant truths.

It's good to see at least one person start to talk sense. Maybe he'll spark some actual dialogue about what tactics aren't working instead of the endless 'Vietnam experience trumps everything anyone could ever do or say!' posturing at the blog.

The way to turn an ailing campaign around is to begin with an honest assessment. Some Dean supporters have been trying to get some of Dan's points across for some time, but are regularly derided as fools and trolls. Maybe Kerry's campaign will listen to one of its own. Or maybe it will keep dismissing honest assessments and fool itself into oblivion.
Posted by V at August 27, 2003 12:42 PM

Well, except I must again protest the label "anti-war" that this guy uses. It's a ridiculous oversimplification, notwithstanding my continued befuddlement that being reluctant to wage war unless absolutely necessary has somehow been turned into a negative character trait by this Orwellian administration and its lackeys in the press.

Posted by: J at August 27, 2003 03:31 PM

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