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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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Monday, April 14, 2003


The Media's Favorite Long Shot for President

posted by Scott at Monday, April 14, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Editor & Publisher Magazine (of all sources) has recently dubbed Howard Dean "The Media's Favorite Long Shot for President."

The article praises Dean for his honesty and straightforwardness, quoting prominent media figures like David Broder, Adam Nagourney, and Tim Russert, who points out that Dean is "forthcoming when many politicians try to avoid answering questions."

Dean is compared (surprise!) to John McCain as a straight talker, though David Wallis of the New York Times Magazine notes that Dean is "more careful than McCain." Whether they meant to do it or not, the writers also compare Dean to Harry Truman.

Vermont reporters knew long ago that Dean reads everything written about him, keeps his cell phone at the ready to complain to editorial writers who cross him, and duels with reporters at news conferences.

So maybe Truman didn't have a cell phone, but he was famous for making his feelings known when he had a difference of opinion with the media. In fact, in this day and age, it's possible that's the type of thing the public is looking for - someone who's not afraid to take on the media when it's necessary. Look at the political fallout from Bush calling Adam Clymer a "major league a__hole" during the last election. What's that you say? Oh right - there was no political fallout. In fact, it's quite possible that the gaffe helped Bush by showing him to be a regular guy with regular feelings who calls 'em like he sees 'em.

This is something touched on in the Editor & Publisher piece. "It's the expectation game," Dean explains. "The press builds you up, and then they cut you down right at the knees." The expectations of Bush were so low to start out with that he was practically given points just for being able to complete a sentence.

In a way, then, the more Dean can distance himself from the brilliantly honest dove mantle, the better. And it's even better if he can do it little by little. A small outburst here followed by a gracious apology; a minor gaffe there answered with a humble retraction... it all adds up in such a way that lowers expectations but strengthens Dean's standing, making him both the regular guy candidate and the good guy candidate.


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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.