Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Blown away in Burlington

There's a good article in the Post about what went on behind the scenes in the battle for the SEIU and AFSCME endorsements. The short and simple of it is that Dean's people simply worked harder for it. In fact, the pathetic efforts of most of the other candidates is really shocking in hindsight. SEIU President Stern told the candidates that the way to win SEIU endorsement was to first win over the rank and file. Dean was the only one who even tried to do this. Stern said it was "shockingly" not even close.

Since Dean's campaign is primarily organized from the bottom up it is not all that surprising that he managed to snag their endorsement. What is more significant, however, is the AFSCME endorsement. AFSCME is organized in the exact opposite style from SEIU, with their president, Gerald McEntee running a more centralized, top-down operation. Yet Dean still managed to get their endorsement.

McEntee let it be known from the beginning that he was looking for the most "electable" candidate. He first looked at Kerry but was seriously underwhelmed by the Senator's performance in the early days of the race. He then held several talks with Clark but was again shocked to discover how out of touch his campaign was with respect to AFSCME's concerns. This was demonstrated most clearly to McEntee when Clark pulled out of Iowa and didn't even seem to understand how much of an insult that would be.

And it can't be said that McEntee has settled for Dean. He could have endorsed Gephardt. If McEntee really is so concerned about electability and the conventional wisdom is right that Dean hasn't got a chance in hell of beating Bush, then wouldn't Gephardt be the obvious choice? He would be, were it not for the fact that McEntee's people "were blown away in Burlington" when they went to review Dean's operation.

McEntee seems to understand something that most of the rest of the intelligentsia in the Democratic party does not: beating Bush will be impossible without organization and Dean simply "blows away" the competition in that category.

So, are all the doom-and-gloomers going to say that McEntee is a fool?

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