Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

November 16, 2003

by J

JJ in Iowa

I was without internet access for more than 30 hours (the horror!) and missed all the buzz about the Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Apparently the Dean Team was a smash hit, at least from reports at Blog For America [1, 2, .. see BFA for more] and on Kos. (CNN says the caravan of 43 buses full of Dean supporters was so long they had to get a parade permit from the city!) I would really like to see some transcripts. I particularly liked this first person account at Kos. A few pullquotes:
Message. "Win With Dean" was the message last night. As in, YOU win with Dean. It's about YOU, not about us. It's about getting you (Democratic insiders) hoardes of Democratic bodies for years to come. We serve you lobster, and Gephardt serves you macaroni and cheese (if that). We love you, we want you, so please get on board now. That was the message. Deftly delivered, I think, but unmistakable.

[...] Order of appearance. Dean had the perfect speaking slot: fifth, just before the final speech, Braun's. (Luck of the coin toss, apparently.) And Boswell (bless him) basically had an intermission (the traditional "pass the bucket" cash drive) just before Dean came on. It was like we heard from the warm-up bands and now the big act is up. So Dean got a double kick, and Kerry (particularly) had to hold his nuclear bombs. The night kept building to his appearance, then the Deanocrats got ample time to build the chanting ("We Want Dean") during the "intermission." HRC introduced Dean with that most deeply personal first person pronoun introduction (written for her or not, it worked), and she had to quiet down the Dean chating crowd to get the intro started. Dean also had to say "Thank you" about six million times to get the balconies to turn down the volume for just a moment.

[...] Anyway, last night is one big example of what the Dean folks seem to be doing elsewhere. I'm sure they know that any "outsider" campaign ruffles feathers, and they need to pave the way for healing and unity to take on the Big Evil.
The thread that this comment was posted in was about a particularly interesting post from Kos himself about a recent TNR article and the great divide in the Democratic party.
The real danger, of course, is that the establishment will try and sabotage Dean (if he gets the nomination, of course) in order to save itself. The notion of a true grassroots-generated political movement, with decentralized power nodes, threatens to diminish the need for proponents of old-school, top-bottom political structures. There are myriad consultants who may suddenly find themselves obsolete, and they're not happy about it.

The optimist in me hopes that this "establishment" will realize the power of what Dean (and SEIU in the union world) is building and embrace it, whether Dean wins the nomination or otherwise. There is no mystery as to why Dean (and Clark, to a lesser degree) have captured the fervent support of so many people, while their opponents struggle to make an impact. The establishment throws away that kind of success at its own peril.

Winning is the key, not who holds the levers of power at the DNC, DSCC, DCCC and other Democratic Party institutions. No one should lose sight of that goal.
A transformed Democratic party is a party I just might join. Go Dean.
Posted by J at November 16, 2003 05:43 PM

I watched this on C-Span this afternoon, with Hillary as emcee, and there's no doubt about it that Dean pushed all the right buttons and outshone the others.

The only thing that seemed a little forced was his repetitious "You have the power" closing, which seemed more apropos for cheerleaders than for a presidential candidate. Saying it 2 to 3 times would have been better.

Still, Dean's message, which makes the struggle an inclusive and empowering one rather than what Dean alone can do, is a force to be reckoned with and so far, none of the others are reckoning with it very well.

Kucinich was good, but as a speaker, he never pauses and throws too much at ya too fast to digest it all. If he'd take some speech lessons, he could be much better, but for now, Dean's got it going on and has refined his talk to near-perfection.

Posted by: Cowboy Kahlil at November 16, 2003 07:26 PM

Regarding too much 'you have the power' -- what people were posting at BFA was that it seems like CSPAN was damping down crowd noise such that what was working in the hall didn't work on television. Could be -- I've seen it happen before. There was also a claim that the crowd was chanting back: "We have the power" -- which I've been hoping for months would start happening somewhere.

Posted by: J at November 16, 2003 07:43 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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