Thursday, December 11, 2003

A Man in Pain

Robert Musil has a critique of my piece about former Vice President Gore's endorsement of former Governor Howard Dean. So I sent him an email, which follows:

Robert --

#1> "Obvious reasons Gore didn't run:" 1. popular incumbents generally win re-election. President Bush is a popular incumbent. 2. Gore needed distance from the 2000 defeat, 3. Money. He wasn't raising any money. And he didn't have any money (by upper elite measurement) of his own.

#2> Of course the Dean network is not a piece of software that can be inserted, like a CD, into the Gore computer or the Clinton computer or whatever. It's a peer network and not a client-server model. But it is, stand alone, a powerful force (ask John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, et alia) and because it is a network, based upon shared values, I would argue that Howard Dean's charisma (such as it is) is not the connective tissue. The Dean network is about community and force multiplication (in political terms). Dean may lose or win, but the community his campaign has created will endure regardless of the outcome and how that community feels about 2008 will be significant/important.

Successful presidential campaigns are successful because large (or significant) constituencies compel them forward. The largest, most significant constituency in the Democratic Party is the Dean-o network. If the majority of them coalesce around someone in 2008, that someone will have a solid base from which to run a campaign for the 2008 Demo Prexy nomination. Combine it with Gore's other strengths as a candidate (labor support and the like) and you have the makings of a possibly winning operation.

Obviously, no one knows what will happen (Gore or Dean or Hillary or me, for that matter). But if you were looking to begin to engage the Dean network as allies in the 2008 campaign, you could not have done a better job of it than Gore did this week.

#3> Airliners and Mt. Fuji.....Nixon won landslide in 1972, minimal GOP gains in Congressional races (and this was when, pre-redistricting software, there were Congressional races!), Reagan won landslide in 1984, virtually no GOP gains at all, Bush wins half-landslide in 1988, Connie Mack elected to the US Senate in FL (the only coat-tail).

On paper, it seems unlikely that the Democratic candidate (unless it's Sharpton) will win less than 44% of the vote and the various modeling that has been done suggests a 53-47% outcome (Bush wins) and a 60-100 point spread in the electoral college. It ain't Mt. Fuji, it's just a routine case of a popular incumbent winning re-election by a comfortable margin.

I will grant you that the Dems are likely to lose Senate seats in the South, but that was expected long before it was expected that Howard Dean would be the nominee.

Thanks for the kind words at the top of your piece.

cheers --je