Friday, June 20, 2003

The snake continues to bite, we continue to grow stronger

I've been thinking about something lately and the recent brouhaha over accusations from the Gephardt campaign that the MoveOn primary may be rigged to favor Dean just made me realize it even more. There is a fundamental difference in attitude in the Dean campaign that I just don't see in the campaigns of any other Democrat. It has to do with how Howard Dean, his campaign and his supporters react to accusations that they are doing something wrong. For the last several years the Democrats have been running scared. Jumping at every hint of a suggestion that they are either engaged in some impropriety or are taking an approach that could fail. Every time the Wurlitzer geared up against Clinton and Gore it was easy for them to find (usually anonymous) Democrats who would side with the critics against the party's leaders. Why? Because they just don't like the confrontation that would result if they tried to fight back against the critics. Howard Dean is different. He doesn't just run from the critics, he actually seems to RELISH their criticism. His campaign's greatest leaps have come at precisely those moments when the chorus was loudest against him. When he came out against the war he was criticized for taking a stance that wouldn't play in a post 9/11 world. The result was national exposure that brought him to the attention of activists who might never have heard of him. When the war was over critics said Dean would suffer for his anti-war stance. Dean responded by continuing to tout that stance even when it was most unpopular. The result was increased support amongst those who became interested in him because he demonstrated that he could be a fighter when he needed to be. When the Kerry campaign started attacking him the Dean campaign turned it into a net positive and again boosted Dean's support. And now the Gephardt campaign is accusing the MoveOn organization of rigging their primary to favor Dean and Dean is responding back with both barrels. The Dean campaign thrives on these kinds of attacks. The more they come the more he, his campaign and his supporters re-double their efforts. Every time an establishment pundit reflexively says, "but of course Dean can't win" it just encourages Dean supporters to work harder to prove them wrong. So keep those criticisms coming folks. They are like mana from heaven. The more you say them the more convinced we become that we are doing the right thing. The snake bites hardest just before it dies.


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