...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
      ( 9:21 AM )
Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking

Everyone is probably already sick and tired of the Iowa Deconstruction, but I have to get my thoughts down and then I'll leave it alone. It seems that most observers are in agreement that the Dean Campaign's decision to go negative on Gephardt was a bad mistake. Gephardt could have gone on swinging at the wind and Dean could have pulled out much more positive ads and sound bites anyway. Edwards has shown what positive vibes can do - not to mention that Edwards is a fantastic campaigner, amazing speaker and actually talks about things like poor people. The last few months of big political endorsements and being beaten down by the press I think made Dean's message of being an outsider ready to change Washington disappear. People are going to warm to that if they see it, but if the message is lost, so is the candidate.

Kerry's win in Iowa, while surprising, I don't think will launch him into more wins. He doesn't have the money to go past NH, and in truth, though Iowans may have dubbed him more "electable," on a national basis, he truly is probably too liberal to go up against Bush. I also find his emphasis on being a veteran and war hero a little disingenuous when he voted to send our troops to Iraq to be killed in just as senseless a fight as Vietnam was. He touts his young hero-ness in his ads, which is attractive, but doesn't truly say much about his governing. The other thing, which I have seen mentioned by a Veteran who observes the campaigns, is that while Kerry (and other candidates) talk a big game about veterans and service people, Dean is the only candidate with an actually thought-out policy about veterans and a plan for helping them. In the end, Kerry's record as a veteran will be matched up against Clark's.

The other thing that I noted the media made a huge deal about was Judy Steinberg-Dean's absence from the campaign trail. Kerry made a very pointed jab at Dean several times, hinting that Dean's wife didn't support him. The cable news media seemed to go after this meme with gusto last night after the results came in. But in Dean's interview on MSNBC, he said very forthrightly that his wife is a practicing doctor with patients, and children at home and that most women in America are like her, working hard and don't have time to sit around with a smile plastered on their faces sitting behind their husbands. Our local commentator, David Sarasohn had a great commentary on this subject last week:

"She sets into play a dynamic that goes right
to the heart of professional women," says Allen,
currently involved in advising women candidates
in Jordan, Qatar and Morocco. "Not only does
she have a good job that she wants to do,
she's helping others."

A description hardly ever applied to shaking
hands at the Davenport, Iowa, hog exposition.

I think the big winner was Edwards. He has been underexposed this entire campaign, and I think it will do good for voters to see him more often. He was my first choice before I got to know Dean's campaign and before he (Edwards) voted for the war. I would LOVE to see Bush have to face Edwards in a debate. One thing is clear, Edwards comes from humble background, has overcome terrible tragedy in his life (loss of a child), is young and eager and hopeful and is from the south. On the other hand, he is a first-term senator with not much experience or leadership role in governing, and even in his home state he isn't leading in the polls (so far). He also came straight out of the DLC camp and I fear that his susceptibility to strong-arming by Clintonistas and special interests could be a big detriment. He needs money and that is a handicap as well.

One thing I would hate to see is the process that Dean has put into action defeated. The network of people that have come into political activism for the first time, motivated by Dean's message, are a phenomenon that this country can only benefit from. I also would hate to see the DLC triumph again - their message of being baby Republicans, their record of not creating any sort of coattails for Democrats in lower offices trying to get elected, and their disenfranchising of the normal, everyday people in the party should not have a chance to go any further than this election year, in my opinion.

This week until NH should be interesting. Watching Clark come into the mix and how Kerry deals with that will be one aspect. Seeing how Edwards will use his Iowa bump in NH, considering he doesn't have much of a network set up there, or much money (though that could change now), is another. And we'll see if Dean will begin to get back to the roots of his campaign and winning the hearts and minds of voters in NH with the message that still rings true: it's time to do something different, it's time for the people to take charge of this country. One thing is certain, it's definitely not a boring race anymore, and Bush has to fear any one of these candidates come March, when the winner is decided. Any one of them will not only be a formidable opponent for him, but will also give him the electoral slap down in November. Here comes the roller coaster.

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