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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004


The Anti-Kerry

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, January 28, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
When I started this blog on August 30th 2002, John Kerry was the front-runner and Howard Dean was this niche candidate who attracted me by his ideas. When Dean was crowned the front-runner by the media at the close of 2003, it was by definition a peak. But the peak gets the most exposure, and the withering media barrage that Dean has faced - and survived - has strengthened the campaign. It is now Kerry's turn to face the same barrage - which he avoided all during 2002 even though he had front-runner status, and all during 2003 when he was given up on for dead. And that means we get some breathing room. We'd rather have victory, but it's never bad to be given time to re-assess.

Yesterday, a governor of a small rural state lost in New Hampshire to a Massachusetts Senator. The parallels to Clinton in 1992 are strong, but they end today. From here on out, it is Dean making his own history. Clinton lost the first ten contests and regrouped in the South. Dean can't afford to lose ten contests and his natural base is the West. We need to focus on how Dean can win, and today we must stop looking at 1992.

Dean is on familiar ground again - while seasoned analysts like Kos have written him off, I think they are unconsciously) guilty of drinking the media self-importance Kool Aid. Even if Kos is right that the media has an interest to "end this thing as quickly as possible" (I disagree - the media thrives on frontrunner-underdog narratives), it's the height of cynicism to suggest that the voters truly are irrelevant. The primary is ours, not theirs.

I see a very simple scenario ahead. Dean is the anti-Kerry. Only these two candidates have the resources to compete against Bush. Edwards and Clark have celebrity status but the media oxygen has been sucked away - they rate editorials and analysis, but very little actual coverage. Watch for E and C to start sharpening attacks on one of the front-runners and leaving the other alone - my guess is K/E and D/C form "gentlemen's alliances" which may translate to actual Veep roles after the nomination - but don't bet that any of these four will drop out until the final bell (barring some disaster such as Edwards losing badly in SC).

From here, it's a media war. Not candidates doing barbecues and high school speeches (though those will of course continue), but a classic ad blitz on radio and television. In this war, the Dean grassroots (organized through the Dean Commons) will act in parallel to the Dean Unions (especially in Wisconsin and Michigan). The opponent is the well-oiled, and highly experienced, establishment machine that Kerry inherits. Either of these are a force to be reckoned with, and we will see K and D pick up states delivered to each by reasonable, neither tight nor massive, margins. The battle will last all the way to the convention and victory is directly related to effort on the ground, precinct by precinct, state by state, delegate by delegate.

That means it is up to us. Why hasn't that bat broken $700K yet? Dean busted his arse for two years in New Hampshire. Amanda and Jason and Anna froze theirs going from house to house, street to street, door to door. What have we done? NOT ENOUGH.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.