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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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Saturday, February 14, 2004


brilliant ploy indeed

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, February 14, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The New Republic has an editorial that was probably authored more by Jon Chait than Ryan Lizza, arguing that Dean is "blaming" his supporters for the decision to carry on after Wisconsin:

Dean insisted he simply meant "strategy"; the American Heritage dictionary defines "ploy" as "[a]n action calculated to ... gain an advantage indirectly or deviously."

And the dictionary definition is exactly what Dean revealed his do-or-die statement to be this week when he announced that he'd stay in the race no matter what--Wisconsin be damned. Worse, to justify his decision, Dean invoked the same followers he'd just tricked. Much as he used his supporters as cover when he opted out of the campaign finance system last fall--pointing to their ratification of the decision in an online referendum after he told them it "may be the only way to win this election"--Dean said he would stay in the race out of deference to them. "[H]ow am I going to resist all the people who are tugging at my sleeve ... saying, 'Don't quit'?" he asked.

Of course, Dean is ignoring all the people who want him out of the race--like the Democratic voters in 14 states who have yet to produce one victory for Dean; or the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which this week withdrew its endorsement of his candidacy; or even some of the Dean bloggers, who are asking why their man is going back on his word. "I gave additional money to the campaign on the assumption that [Wisconsin] was the last great stand. All or nothing," one posted on the Dean for America blog. "What's going on?" The answer is all too clear.

Since the editorial is so pedantic about the definition of "ploy", let's return the favor by examining the definition of "blame" :

These nouns denote a sense of responsibility for an offense. Blame stresses censure or punishment for a lapse or misdeed for which one is held accountable

Dean is not blaming the supporters. He is bending to their will. There has been a massive investment in time and money by the grassroots in the remaining 35+ states that have not yet voted, and though the media punditocracy thinks that it's over, actual democracy demands all the votes be counted. I'm not as confident as I was in Dean's chances of winning the Presidency, but I am 100% confident that Dean's presence in the race is partly why Kerry is saying the right things on the trail that are doing real damage to Bush. The continuation of teh Democratic primary is essential because it keeps pressure on the incumbent Administration, whose panic is palpable in their flailing about with marriage amendments and missions to mars. That real pressure generated by an active opposition primary is why Bush is scrambling to visit primary states such as South Carolina and New Hampshire to try and soak up some of the media glare, and why the press corp is galvanized enough to actually ask hard questions of the self-styled war leader about his own service record's continuing inconsistencies.

If the editors are correct, then the voters in 35 states are disenfranchised. Dean must continue on - and win enough delegates to hold Kerry to his rhetoric. It's about shaping the debate, and while we may prefer that Dean gets the top prize, actual change is no small consolation.


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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.