David Gergen gets it
David Gergen was on CNBC tonight giving some post-debate analysis. He watched the debate with a classroom full of his students and he talked about the reactions of some of them. What was interesting, Gergen said, was that this crowd of mostly Republican students seemed to like Howard Dean the best. Gergen even quoted one student as wishing that Dean were a Republican so that he could vote for him.
Gergen went on to say that what seemed to appeal to his students was Dean's "steely resolve". They were impressed by the fact that Dean fought back against some of the attacks against him and held his own. They were so used to seeing Democrats wilt under pressure that they were intrigued by the sight of a Democrat who doesn't just roll over.
Gergen was also asked by the host of the show (don't remember his name) whether calls to repeal part or all of Bush's tax cut would appeal to the general public. Gergen made the interesting point that the public at large, outside the Republican party, never really supported the tax cuts to begin with and many people didn't see much benefit from them anyway (a point that Dean has made repeatedly). So he wasn't sure whether advocating the rollback of the tax cuts would really hurt the Democratic nominee, especially if the jobless recovery continues.
Finally, Gergen said something that I and many others have been saying for quite some time: the Democrats, by continuing the pressure on Bush, are making it acceptable to attack the President when just a year ago many people were afraid to do so.
This is what we will need to defeat Bush. We will need to destroy the image in people's mind that Bush is competent and can be trusted. Until that image is shattered it will be very difficult to defeat him. By keeping up the heat on Dubya we are making a difference.
Which just goes to show that "go along to get along" philosophy, with respect to Dubya, was a miserable failure (to steal a line from Dick Gephardt).