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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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Thursday, January 22, 2004

 

The Debate http://www.liberaloasis.com/archives/011804.htm#012204

posted by Amanda at Thursday, January 22, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Been awhile since I've posted -- the post-Iowa roller coaster and the ensuing increased pressure for our Mass for Dean GOTV efforts in nextdoor NH, coupled with all of life's other pressures, has been a tad wild.

I'd like to do an Iowa recap post, just to offer my perspective on what we saw on the ground there, what we experienced, especially at the caucus we attended in downtown Des Moines, and at the Monday rally. Oh and getting to meet Anna too! :-)

But right now, there are more important fish to fry. The debate tonight is critical, obviously. All manner of advice is flying around the Net and no doubt the staff at DFA are feeling a bit overwhelmed. But heeding this advice is really important, in my opinion. Per usual, Liberal Oasis offers some really great tips to all the big four candidates (Clark, Dean, Edward, and Kerry).

Here's LO's advice to Dean:

Ahh, the speech.

Dean had the right idea with his post-caucus speech, showing confidence and determination.

But of course, it was not exactly executed right.

There were concerns that he wasn’t presidential and likeable enough, and he walked right into them. The resulting spin has been brutal.

What to do then?

First, he should take a page from Reagan.

In the first debate with Walter Mondale in 1984, Reagan’s performance was so shaky, doubts grew about his old age and his faculties.

His 26 point lead in the polls was cut in half. Mondale was back in it.

But in the next debate, when Reagan was asked about his age, he was ready. With perfect comedic timing, he said:

I want you to know that I will not make age an issue of this campaign.

I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.

Not only did the crowd roar in laughter, the joke reversed the doubts that he was losing it, because he put himself in command of the room.

(Mondale later said he pretty much knew it was over at that moment.)

A great joke about the “Iowa Yell” could do the same for Dean.

He once was the most likeable candidate, the one best connecting with the people.

Showing he can skillfully laugh at himself would put to rest notions that he’s lost it, and remind voters about his likeable traits.

Of course, the joke has to be great, and has to be delivered great.

A failed joke is painful to watch. That’s why jokes are risky.

But that’s also why they pay off so well when they work.

After that, Dean needs to simply be presidential.

He’s been low-key the last two days, but a low-key debate performance would be the worst thing he can do.

It would be akin to Al Gore’s post-sigh debate against Dubya. He would look weak and defeated.

Dean at his best has a novel charisma. It needs to shine tonight.


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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.