Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dean vs. Clark

Go here for an insightful analysis from Sterling Newberry of the coming Dean vs. Clark race for the Democratic nomination.

I was especially taken with Sterling's points on the thinking of some Democratic party insiders. Their opposition to Dean is not so much a matter of whether they think he can or cannot beat Bush but rather what impact his nomination will have on down-ticket elections, especially the five open Democratic Senate seats in the South. There is the feeling that of the two, Dean or Clark, Clark is the one who gives them the best chance of retaining those seats, regardless of whether Clark has any chance of beating Bush. So the political calculus may be to write off the White House and hope for the best in the Senate.

If this is so, and I think it is, than it is yet another demonstration of the loser strategy that has dominated Democratic political thinking for the last couple of election cycles: play defense, staunch our wounds, don't risk making things worse and hope for the best in the future. The reason this is a loser strategy is because it almost inevitably leads to the very things it is defined to defend against: Democrats are increasingly seen as wimps, they  lose more power and their future prospects become dimmer and dimmer.

Dean may not be the figure that leads the Democrats out of the wilderness. But until someone actually tries to do it the best the Democrats can hope for is to not walk even farther into the gloom.

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