Friday, January 30, 2004

Dean is in it for the duration

Well, it looks like the Dean campaign is going for a variation of the strategy I previously outlined (Hey Roy! Where's my check!): stick it out and try to remain the last standing alternative to John Kerry. Dean now wants to be the anti-Kerry or the ABKBB (Anybody-But-Kerry-But-Bush) candidate.

Ironies do abound don't they?

As I said previously, this strategy is bound to produce a few loud squawks from party regulars who have bought into Terry McAulife's call for the party to unite behind the front-runner with fewer than 10% of the delegates chosen. Dean's new campaign manager, Roy Neel, comments on this:

This year is very different. The media and the party insiders will attempt to declare Kerry the winner on February 3 after fewer than 10% of the state delegates have been chosen. At that point Kerry himself will probably have claimed fewer than one third of the delegates he needs to win. They would like the campaign to be over before the voters of California, New York, Texas and nearly every other big state have spoken.

Democrats in Florida, who witnessed a perversion of democracy in November 2000, will not have a choice concerning the nominee if the media and the party insiders have their way.

This is clever: play to Democratic discontent about the disenfranchisement in Florida and the resentment of the big and late primary states about the irrelevancy of their votes in naming the eventual nominee (speaking as an Oregonian, whose primary is May 28th, I say amen to that!) The Dean campaign appears to be making the argument that if "electability" really is the important issue the polls say it is then maybe the votes of all Democrats should have a say in just what "electability" means.

An additional irony: Roy Neel, a Gore advisor, is playing the Florida disenfranchisement card. It looks to me like the Gore group understands better than the party leadership how the Democrats failed in Florida when they didn't put up the kind of fight this battle requires. Their not going to let it happen again.

Neel asks rhetorically if this strategy has ever worked before:

No. It's never been tried.

But prior to this year, no candidate had ever raised $46 million dollars, mostly from ordinary Americans giving $100 each. Prior to this year no candidate for President had ever inspired the kind of grass-roots activity that has been this campaign’s hallmark. Prior to this year no candidate for President had so clearly revitalized his party, allowed it to reclaim its voice, and shifted the agenda so clearly to a call for change.

Let the conventional wisdom and the media declare this race over. We’re going to let the people decide.

Dean is going to stake a claim to the backbone that he helped instill in the Democratic party. He's not going to just let the party leadership pat us on the head and say, "Thanks for the calcium injection, now let the grownups take over."

Sorry guys. You're not going to get rid of us that easily.


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