Friday, March 21, 2003

Dean: peaking to early?

JB Armstrong has some interesting things to say with regard to the question: is Dean peaking to early? I agree with his assessment that Dean's exposure now could allow him to build the kind of national organization he would need to convert a NH win into a juggernaut moving towards the convention. McCain suffered in 2000 for having invested so much into NH that he didn't have much to respond to the Bush smear campaign once he moved on to SC. Dean may already have the strongest grassroots presidential organization of any of the candidates. Possibly even better then George W. Bush, though Dubya can re-constitute his 2000 local organizations at pretty much a moments notice. The next few weeks could be crucial: 1) How does Dean react to the course of the war. If it goes bad, he would be set (just so long as he isn't seen as trying to capitalize on tragedy), but if it goes good he will have a tougher time of it. I think he has done a good job of dealing with this possibility by simply asserting that his criticisms are valid regardless of what happens. This position has the added advantage of being true. 2) How does Dean do in the crucial money primary. The FEC filings at the end of this month could be very telling on this point. If the Dean meetup challenge meets its goal it will be good. If it exceeds it it will be even better and maybe the DNC money people will start to help him out. I think he will be able to meet this goal given the positive response he is getting from the core Democrats. 3) Can Dean's people convert the raw meetup structure and the strong response he has been getting at recent Democratic functions into a REAL organization with emphasis on the word "organization?" I really can't say whether this will happen or not as I know nothing about the people running Dean's campaign. 4) Can Dean deal with the inevitable smear campaigns that will come from being a nationally recognized, top-tier candidate? Will he be able to hold up under intense media scrutiny? Is he truly prepared for what will come his way? I have hopes that he is prepared for this considering how he has responded to the initial attempts to attack him. (aside: I wonder if the RNC oppo teams are scrambling now to figure out who this guy is and what dirt they can get on him.) I also agree with JB's suggestion that Dean could very well be the front-runner by the time the NH campaign rolls around. Especially if Kerry can't figure out a way to deal with Dean's appeal among core Democrats. All of this is, of course, speculative. Dean could disintegrate as a national candidate at any moment and everyone will look back and wonder what all the excitement was about. But for now, I remain hopeful. It's about the only hope I have had in a long time.


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