Comment: US Presidential Election 2004
HOWARD DEAN CANNOT WIN A GENERAL ELECTION
Dean will never be president. He is a bizarre amalgam of Michael
Dukakis and George McGovern rolled into an unpolished, ornery fire
breather built to appeal to the extreme left wing of a party currently
lost on the national political scene.
college kids, southern pick-up truck rebels with confederate flag decals
or an Al Gore endorsement aside, an anti-war, radically motivated fiscal
and social New England liberal will never win key independents in the
mid-west or the south.
The last one to pull that off needed to cheat, and then had his head
blown off before repeating the deed.
If the Dems have any hope of unseating this mediocre president, they
need to reconsider the odds. But judging the field, and the insider
intrigue of a party gearing up to be Hillary Clintons bitch, it
is an unlikely hope at best.
With six weeks remaining until the New Hampshire Primary - an atavistic
exercise as symbolically hyped, fiscally provoked, and strategically
dead as your average college football bowl game - the governor of Vermont
is the leading Democrat to challenge George Bush for the White House.
This meant little for the last Democrat elected president, William Jefferson
Clinton, who finished second in NH. But oh how things have changed in
The man who is likely to finish a distant second is Massachusetts Senator,
John Kerry, a man slated by party big wigs this past summer to be the
front runner. In 92, Clinton was a laughing stock entering NH,
and came to view his eventual second place standing as a victory. Kerry
cannot and will not survive second place.
No one else in this endless pack of candidates is close. Dean will win
NH and all indications are he will make a strong showing in the Iowa
Caucus, which will effectively put Missouri Congressman, Dick Gephardt
on ice. Gephardts campaign has staggered since Dean grabbed key
endorsements from major cash-cow unions and has publicly called Iowa
a "must win".
Gores endorsement of Dean all but buried Joseph Liebermans
campaign. The Connecticut Senator, and former Gore running mate, dutifully
postponed announcing his candidacy until Gore decided not to run, and
now he has to eat shit.
Most of the anti-Hillary power people in the party apparently convinced
the formerly "retired" vice president that to boost Deans
run gains solidarity with the present 2004 momentum allowing Gore safe
passage past Hillary for a 08 run. In essence, Gore and the party
ostensibly concedes the White House to fend off an inevitable Clinton
This may all be fine and dandy in Democratic command circles, but on
the national scene Gore is an anathema. He has the stank of defeat on
him, and what appeared to be a simple beltway backstabbing of a former
running mate is a tolling bell of doom for a man trying to accomplish
what Gore could not.
Dont be fooled. Deans people are already looking beyond
the primaries. The candidates recent performances in these interminable
debates have the air of a tune-up. He has segued nicely into a smoothing
of his national campaign rhetoric, bypassing his opponents to begin
playing off Bush.
As for the White House, there has been no secret the Bush people are
giddy at the prospect of taking on Dean. Quotes of him winning a mere
five states in a general election are a bit severe, but not far off.
They cannot believe their luck. There was legitimate concern about General
Wesley Clark, but he has failed to build any momentum and seems unwilling
to slice into Deans aggressive stance. And then there is his Arkansas
connection that has the anti-Hillary people wary of his ultimate motives.
Dean has balls, deep steel things that allow him to be bold on gay marriages,
pot smoking, draft dodging and a wild reconstruction of every government
program. This works only if you are a southern Democrat with a robotic
focus on one issue. Clinton hammered away at the first Bushs putrid
economy for ten months. Dean is all over the map, what with trashing
the war, tax cuts, the recent Medicare mess and a myriad of social issues,
and without a Ross Perot around to suck 10% of the independent vote,
he will lose. Dukakis and McGovern did not have a noisy independent,
and they lost. Badly.
And like those doomed candidates, Deans type of campaign works
beautifully 10 months before crunch time, but a year from now with an
economy slowly shifting upward and the Bush war machine having a full
year to stabilize, it tends to appear stale with time.
The old adage that you campaign in the primary to appeal inwardly and
then unfurl a different strategy for the national campaign is a faint
hope. Perhaps once faced with a national debate Dean will loosen his
tether to the type of special interest fops needed to gain the nomination.
Barely into the primaries in 2000, Bush appeared willing to champion
any extreme right wing whim, but once he defeated John McCain he pulled
to the left and maintained a slim lead all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.
But that was the closest election in a generation and no one on either
side of 04 wants that kind of grind.
And neither will get it. Im not sure anyone else fits the bill,
but one thing is certain, if its Howard Dean, its four more years.
© James Campion December 12th 2003
*News: Wednesday 14th
January 2004 - Dean wins the nonbiding District Of Columbia primary
with 43 percent of the vote - Al Sharpton second with 34 percent
Previously by James Campion on Hackwriters
all rights reserved