Monday, January 19, 2004

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The Des Moines Register has actual numbers on the caucus (link via Atrios) -- and as I'm writing this, Kerry and Edwards are having big nights; Dean and Gephardt, not so much. The fact that Kerry and Edwards are doing so well in Des Moines -- the most liberal part of the state -- suggests that these results are going to hold.

A few quick thoughts:

1) Hey, I was right!! [About as often as a stopped watch!--ed. That's pretty much my read, too.] At least about the finish. We'll see if I'm right about the press reaction.

2) The nets seem puzzled by the fact that -- according to the entrance polls -- roughly 75% opposed the war in Iraq but are not supporting Dean, the clearest anti-war candidate.

This doesn't puzzle me as much. I suspect most Democrats don't want to refight the fight over the war -- it's happened. The question for them -- for all of us -- is where to go from here, given that we're in Iraq.

3) Howard Dean is not going away anytime soon -- he's still got the money and the national organization. I'm sure the press is thrilled by this fact.

4) I never thought I would say this -- but I feel sorry for Richard Gephardt.

UPDATE: A few more thoughts given that the initial results held:

5) To paraphrase an old Jewish aphorism, is this good for the blogs? Regardless of one's political stripe, the blogosphere embraced Dean's Internet campaign as a kindred spirit, emblematic of the same phenomenon that propelled blogs into prominence. I'm asking in a half-serious way what Scrappleface is asking in a completely humorous way.

[You could spin this the other way -- what killed Dean/Gephardt was the chase for establishment endorsements and union endorsements--ed. Well, I certainly like that interpretation better -- whether it's true or not I'll leave to the commenters.]

6) Having just seen Kerry, Edwards, and Dean's speeches, my respect for Edwards' political skills is growing. In many ways all three of them touched on the same themes -- the economy, health care, people vs. the powerful, etc. However, Edwards' emphasis was on lifting people up without tearing anyone down -- in this way, Edwards is the anti-Krugman candidate. Meanwhile, Dean and Kerry still sounded negative (Dean -- who seemed to have taken too many uppers -- was bashing other Democrats; Kerry -- far more sober -- was bashing Bush).

LAST UPDATE: Will Saletan has more worth thinking about.

posted by Dan on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM


“Howard Dean is not going away anytime soon -- he's still got the money and the national organization.”

And every single penny will be spent. The blood is going to flow. The Dean fanatics will not disappear into the dark night. Who enticed ABC news to run the story concerning Howard Dean’s accused wife beating police guard? They will exact revenge on the “Bush Lite” Democrats. Also, Dean may become a better candidate after this experience. I still say he will win in New Hampshire.

I feel humbled by the events of tonight. However, I thank God that I'm not Mickey Kaus! Isn't he the one who thought it best for John Kerry to fold his tents a few weeks ago?

posted by: David Thomson on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

"4) I never thought I would say this -- but I feel sorry for Richard Gephardt."

I agree with both parts of that sentence, and probably for the same reasons. Gephardt is way protectionist, but he was one of the saner Democrats in the race, and after spending so much time and money in Iowa for so many years, this rejection has to be painful for him.

posted by: Sam Barnes on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

"American Idol" premiered tonight, showcasing people who believe they can sing. Some move on, but most are rejected mercilessly.

Caucuses "premiered" tonight, showcasing people who believe they can be president.


posted by: MJG on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Gephardt lost me years ago when he suggested those with high incomes had somehow been luckier that others ( I think he made a lottery metaphor). Note that I am not one of those lucky ones.

He has always been much to liberal for me, but even so, I do feel sorry for him tonight. Its like he has been fired or laid off from his job. As I have known this pain more than once, I always feel sympathy.

posted by: tallan on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Interesting results from Iowa. I wonder how accurately media reports reflect what actually happened.

As far as the morning after, my sense is that the media has room for two Iowa stories: Kerry's surprising surge and Dean's equally surprising fade. If this is true it would leave John Edwards rather out in the cold, though his performance is if anything a bigger surprise than Kerry's.

I loved Bob Dole's comment to to Wesley Clark about how "...Kerry won, which meant someone had to lose. And General, I think it was you." That set Clark, who is a tremendous windbag, off but good! -- but I think the Iowa results really do make New Hampshire the make-or-break state for other Democrats -- Dean for sure, Lieberman if he doesn't do much better than poor Gephardt did in Iowa. and maybe Clark as well.

posted by: Zathras on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

I feel sorry for Dick Gephardt, too. He's a good guy.

posted by: Michael J. Totten on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Just caught a replay of Dea's speech to the faithful after coming in third. He's nuts.

posted by: Bill on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Uh, Edwards the "anti-Krugman" candidate? How so? Both talk quite a bit about a two-tier society of work vs. capital.

posted by: Jason McCullough on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Dean doesn't really have a "make or break" state. Even though he and Gephardt throttled each other in Iowa, any candidate in the race would still trade places with Dean in a heartbeat: He has enough money and volunteers to run a national campaign, and will easily last until the race narrows down to two or three candidates. Fundamentally this is still a race to see who emerges as the Dean alternative, and Gephardt has just been knocked out of the running.

A win in New Hampshire would certainly help Dean's chances, though, and would answer questions about whether he can broaden his appeal beyond his (passionately committed) base. Dean has been under constant attack for about eight weeks now, with five other candidates and the media ("front runner BAD! close race GOOD!") all gunning for him; Kerry and Edwards will now have to shoulder at least some of that burden, giving Dean an opportunity to refresh and retune.

Kerry, on the other hand, needs a win in New Hampshire to prove he wasn't a flash in the pan. It's easy to forget in the immediate post-Iowa euphoria that Kerry was campaigning like a dead fish until just one week before the caucus; he'll get a second look from people who'd already written him off, but New Hampshire voters may be more skeptical about whether he'll swoon again down the line.

Edwards is in a no-lose position: He's the only candidate who can run a positive campaign, lose gracefully, retire smiling to his Senate seat, and wait patiently until 2008 comes around. He doesn't have to do anything at this point except show up and watch the other candidates elbow themselves to death; he's likely to withdraw when the race narrows down to three, unless the odds look strongly in his favor, but he'll cruise through New Hampshire on cloud nine.

Lieberman is DOA in New Hampshire and should withdraw before Sharpton overtakes him. Sharpton was never a serious candidate to begin with, but look for him to stay in until it's apparent who the eventual winner is.

All told, it's still a wide-open race at this point: There are scenarios where any one of four candidates could conceivably end up with the nomination. Who would have thunk it?

posted by: Scott Forbes on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]


Edwards already has retired from the Senate. He's not standing for re-election this Fall.

The race will be between Erskine Bowles (D)(who lost to Elizabeth Dole by nine points in 2002) and Bob Barr.

In any event, Edwards is the big winner tonight. But, I still think he's running for a VP slot; to give him the national name recognition for a run in 2008 as the anti-Hillary candidate (assuming she's not knocked out of the race prematurely by Guiliani winning her Senate seat in 2006).

posted by: jtj on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Watching Dean's post caucus speech, I finally realized where he really falters. He hasn't figured out that he's not just talking to the people in the room. That, as much as anything, is why his confederate flag remark and his comment about talking up religion in the south so rankled -- it's as though he had no clue that southerners were already listening in. He's talking about a lot of folks (fellow Democrats included) but he's not talking to very many of them.

A t.v. pundit (wish I could remember who, on Hardball maybe) commented that the Republicans needn't bother filming campaign ads -- they can just air the video of Dean's performance after the results came in. Loved the touch about taking out his competitor's home states -- is this one of the guys who is talking diplomatic rapprochement -- abroad?

So far Edwards is the only one who has actually managed to articulate anything remotely resembling an actual agenda from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, along with an emminently saleable theme (Two Americas/It Doesn't Have To Be That Way). It's not the CW, but I think that with anybody but Dean, this election can be won on the domestic issues. Despite supporting the Iraq venture, moderate Republicans like me (& Christie Whitman?) are not any happier than Democrats are with unfunded mandates, pro-marriage initiatives, and a President who turned out to both more conservative and more profligate than expected.

posted by: JM Hanes on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Writing from the Iowa Caucuses,

Participated in the Iowa Caucus tonight and the results out of 13 delegates in my precint was 4-Kerry, 4-Edwards, 3-Dean, and 2-Kucinnich. Plus I went to see a Dean rally today. He still has the most energy I've seen among the candidates the crowd. However, as I was volunteering and canvassing I could sense a shift this past week. Not allot of people were going for Dean as a second choice, and that is crucial in the caucuses. What happened in my precint is that the Gephardt people couldn't make 15%, and so like Clark (Liebermann was non-existent) people, they went undecided ... and majority of them went to Edwards. He seems the default candidate for the Clark and Edwards crowd. Kerry started out strong - some 80+ out of 250 some attendances. Turnout was very high, oldtimers said it was twice as high as usual at least and the room assigned completely overflowed. Kerry candidates were strong, confident, and relaxed. Edwards seems to have cobbled together a coalition of the elderly, affluent, moderates, and union people that he won on his own or inheirited from undecideds and Gephardt.

It was very interesting. I want you all to know that I still believe in Dean, otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to be one of the delegates to the county level convention. However I know exactly where my candidate went wrong. I see great promise in Dean, but I also acknowledge William Saletan's criticism as valid of Dean as unsufferably arrogant.

The oldman is not perturbed by events, and foresaw them to the dismay of the Dean organizers who thought he should give blind allegiance. But just as Edwards proved himself a worthy candidate by coming up from behind, or Kerry from recovering from awkwardness and campaign snaffu's (the way Gore couldn't) the lights aren't out on Dean yet.

Advertisity tests character. Just as I was glad that the other Dems attacked Dean, now I am glad he didn't sweep Iowa. The reason why is that I truly think that he has the greatest potential of all the candidates, but he doesn't need to give 'em hell but to go through hell himself. Greatness always emerges in response to difficulty. No one ever became truly great buoyed on by an easy life.

My anaylsis is that Dean ran into the problem that he had turned off too many people. Everyone willing to look past his flaws, was already in his camp. So he hit a ceiling. Now to make progress he has to truly change while remaining true to himself. That's the only way he can get past this ... and that's a good thing. Cause if he does, he will truly become the "dreamer" or "dream candidate" that Harkin and others called him.

Can he do it? Don't know. But he wouldn't have been the first long bet that the oldman has won ... including refusing to ignore the clear shift in momentum whilst in the Dean crowd. That's the test. If he's worthy, he'll be refined like gold in fire. That's the Republican in me coming out btw... competition to produce performance and survival of the fittest. :-D

Also I believe if the high turn-out holds in the rest of the State, this will send a message that Democrats are serious this year about getting active and winning the White House. That can't be bad from my point of view, no matter who walks away with the trophy.

That's all from the Iowa Caucuses!

posted by: Oldman on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Regarding whether the Dean loss is "good for blogs": it's an odd sort of question, for me, since so many bloggers have taken a strong anti-Dean position.

Yes, yes, he was using our technology and it was helping him. But he didn't figure out that it's a two-edged sword. Bloggers were also the ones who watched him closely, made sure to highlight the moonbat elements that often infested his comments, caught him out time and again on his bad behavior.

I'm one of those who's been passionately anti-Dean, and I've not only blogged against him, but helped others do the same. Because I thnk he's bad for both the country and the Democratic Party.

Blogs are both all they're cracked up to be and less. What we are, first and foremost, is an open community, and the Dean campaign highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of such a community.

As for the Dean campaign itself: I rather suspect that Dean will, unless he gets utterly humiliated, continue through until the last primary is held. He has little reason not to, even if he never takes more than 20-25% of the vote in any state. Because no matter what, he would wind up a major player in the convention, especially if no other candidate winds up with a clear majority of delegates either.

By the way, I sure wish Gephardt had done better too.

posted by: Dean Esmay on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

I wouldn't have voted for Gephardt in the primary or caucus either, but I would say that his exit speech was a worthy grace note. He said everything he should have said, with real largeness of spirit, at what must have been a very difficult moment. He failed as a candidate, but he showed well as a human being.

Quite a contrast with another candidate who didn't do as well as expected. I'm now mostly hoping that Joe Lieberman will drop out as soon as possible, to reduce the division of the ABD vote.

Still and all, I think Iowa showed, contrary to what a lot of highly partisan Republicans predicted, that the Democratic party's instincts are in pretty good shape. The most protectionist candidate was soundly rejected, as was the angriest.

posted by: TedL on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Edwards certainly sounds the best themes. He's been positive and he does have a message that finally came through all the "he's not ready" spin. He's an attractive candidate.

I think Kerry may pick up a lot of support from Dean and Clark supporters in New Hampshire and elsewhere. Tortoise and the hare? He's the tortoise. It may pay off.

Dean's speech last night is, and will continue to be, broadcast endlessly. He gave a very, very weird speech. He turned red, he screamed and bared his teeth in fury. Frankly, it was terrible. It had to lose him votes from coast-to-coast.

posted by: Pug on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

A few offhanded thoughts;

With the exception of Dean.... (who unquestionably represents the irrationally ticked off part of the party), the positioning in the race f each candidate has to do with how effective they were in getting their message out to the voters. Ironic to say this, but the more effective they were in getting their message out, the less that more rational people voted for them. (Granted that rationality among Democrats is in short supply...)

But look at Edwards, who the press basicly wrote off, and wasn't covering to speak of, and as a result is more or less an unknown out there. He comes up a strong second. Kerry, who we've been hearing so little of, in comparison to Dean, comes in first.

Why? Well, I'm not quite sure what to make of that conclusion, just yet. I'd like to think it means they didn't like what they saw once they got to know the leaders, like Dean. But whatever it means, it does suggest this full tilt to the left nonsense isn't selling among Iowa Democrats. At the least, they see that people such as Clark, Kucinich, et al, stand no chance in the general election, and they're willing to try the unknown.

I guess that the next logical question will be, will any of the candidates change anything in their positions on the issues. I doubt they will Dean's claims on the point not withstanding.

posted by: Bithead on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

My take on the Iowa primary:

  1. Dean must win in New Hampshire now. Not place. Not show. Win. He needs the momentum going in to the Southern primaries that follow NH, especially South Carolina. Without it, he's going to get toasted by Kerry or Edwards, his fundraising will dry up, and his campaign will go down the tubes quickly.

  2. Edwards becomes a viable candidate if he can convert his surge in the polls to donations. Edwards is, by far, the candidate most able to beat Bush in November, and is very similar to Bill Clinton in terms of charisma and aimiability. However, he lacks Bill Clinton's fundraising skills, and if he doesn't pick up the pace, he'll run out of money and fade.

  3. Speaking of the Clintons, keep in mind that the Clintons and their allies want the Democrats to lose narrowly in 2004 to clear the way for Hillary in 2008. These people won big last night, since Kerry is the candidate most likely to do exactly that - lose narrowly to GWB.

  4. Bush will be a formidable opponent in 2004, but I can't help but wonder if he will go the way of his father. Just as GHWB pissed off his base by raising taxes, GWB has pissed off his base with profligate spending. Of course, GWB has one isssue working in his favor that GHWB did not: judges. GWB has been steadily pushing judicial appointees forward who appeal to the Religious Right portion of his constituency, and judicial appointments are what these people care about the most. Since Bush has not had the chance to alter the balance of the Supreme Court in his favor, he can count on the continued support of this portion of his base in the Fall.

Naturally, there are those of us who are divided over the issues of fiscal responsibility and judicial appointments. When I voted for GWB in 2000, all I wanted from him was to create a Supreme Court capable of overturning affirmative action and setting forth a new precedent that the 14th Amendment means what it says -- the law applies equally to all citizens of the United States regardless of race or gender. Needless to say, I didn't get what I wanted. Instead, I got someone who seems to believe that tax dollars are for bribing the electorate. If the Democrats nominate someone like Edwards, I won't know whether to vote for GWB or against him.

[ Of course, what I really want is a time machine so I can go back and alter the outcome of Plessy v Furguson. Here's an interesting exercise: suppose that the Supreme Court had invalidated segregation laws on 14th Amendment grounds in 1892. How would this have affected the development of civil rights in the US? Given that segregation was a social as well as a legal reality, would it have had any effect at all? ]

posted by: Tom Ault on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

I think people are overestimating the effect of the press. Edwards and Kerry started their surges and then the press started covering them, not the other way around. Same think with the Dean/Gephart mutual destruction. The movement on the ground drove the press, not vice-versa. Democracy is a wonderful thing.

Second, are pundits as a class idiots or what? Imagine if meteorologists were this wrong this often. How many people declared Kerry dead or decried Edwards lack of obvious strategy to yield the nomination, not to mention everyone who declared Dean the nominee before a single vote was cast

I think Dean is dead. I can't imagine him getting more than 30% of the vote in any state except Vermont. 10 million dollars and 2 years of campaigning and he ends up with 18% in Iowa. And the concession speech drove the nail into the coffin. Not exactly the temperment I'm looking for in a President.


posted by: Andymac on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

I doubt if Dean is dead. After all GHWB and Mike Dukakis both finished third in the Iowa caucuses in 1988, but still recovered to win their respective parties' nominations.

Dean will almost certainly win New Hampshire; it's located next to Vermont and according to Mark Steyn, Democrats in that state have been wanting to vote for Dean for years.

I do think his speech last night was bizarre and if it's getting as much attention in Democrat circles as it is on the Republican blogs he's wounded himself.

Thanks to oldman for the first-hand account of a caucus.

posted by: Pat Curley on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Edwards may not have spoken about "...tearing anyone down...", but it was simply a class-warfare appeal. How to 'lift these people up' without more socialist re-distribution?

So he didn't actually insult the 'haves', he just wants to confiscate more of their stuff. How civilized!

posted by: canary on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Geez...more of the class warfare cliche. Lifting people up doesn't have to be accomplished with "socialist re-distribution" and Edwards didn't call for anything of the sort.

Maybe those who need to be lifted up should just be left to wallow in their lowly self-inflicted state? I don't think even most Republicans believe that.

posted by: Pug on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

> Lifting people up doesn't have to be
>accomplished with "socialist re-distribution"


> Edwards didn't call for anything of the sort.

Questionable. And even if not, that doesn't preclude it being an end state of his arguments.

posted by: Bithead on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

A few reactions:

--Dean is certainly not dead but a loss in New Hampshire would be crippling.

--I think he will win in New Hampshire, since I doubt he will lose much of his base and Clark, Kerry and Edwards will be fighting for much of the rest of the electorate.

--If Dean does win, then the race for second is crucial. That person will be in great shape going into February 3 whereas the third and fourth place finishers will be fighting for their lives that day.

posted by: Stuart on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

> "American Idol" premiered tonight, showcasing people who believe they can sing. Some move on, but most are rejected mercilessly.

> Caucuses "premiered" tonight, showcasing people who believe they can be president.

At the end of American Idol, we have a winner. Without it, we keep the same loser.

posted by: germ on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Don't be surprised by volitility among the candidates. The number one criteria of a sizable number of Democrats (myself included) is who can win in November. All other considerations are secondary. Who has the best health care plan? Who has the best economic stimulus plan? Who has the best whatever? Who Cares! The important thing is to win.

When that's the criteria, support for a particular candidate isn't very deep. If Dean looks like a winner, I'll be all for Dean. If he starts looking like a loser, I'll follow somebody else and not look back.

Of course, by blindly following whoever has the best chance of winning without regard to policy, we run the risk of electing a reckless untested nincompoop who undermines the core principles of the party.

We know that's what can happen cause it's exactly what happened to the Republicans last time around (c.f. nation building, bloated pork-barrel spending, mammoth deficits, abandoning The Powell Doctrine, etc.) Now they have to pretend like that's all AOK in order to stay in power. It must suck.

posted by: uh_clem on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]


"Geez...more of the class warfare cliche. Lifting people up doesn't have to be accomplished with "socialist re-distribution" and Edwards didn't call for anything of the sort."

Read his website. How can you even suggest he is not spouting "the cliche"?

posted by: canary on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Dear Pat Curly,

You're welcome. It has to emphasized that the turn out was extremely high. My precint ran out of registration forms, including allot of people who had been Republicans before. I've that happened allot of other places too. I wouldn't be so sure that Bush has his base tied up. Before the SOTU the WaPo reported that a generic democrat was again running even with Bush. Dean's problem is that all these "new voters" were mature and tended to pull Kerry, while the Gephardt and undecided went to Edwards mostly as the least polarizing candidate. The college crowd was noticeably absent as usual. Dean hadn't pulled them in as he wished. Also the local campaign headquarters was chaos, with not even every street getting canvassed in a University town. While I've seen Dean twice here, he choose relatively small venues each time. There was several hundred students, but no major campus response. Not like when Gore came here, sheesh they had to cordon off the entire central campus region.

My analysis of the situation indicates Dean placing as number 1 or 2 in New Hampshire. Looks close as of now. Edwards will continue his rise, but slow because of fundraising and he will come under continuing attacks. I don't think he can go a whole campaign and stay completely positive. So far he's been getting a free ride. That'll end soon.

Kerry looks like the horse to beat, and since my candidate still seem to "get it" Dean'll probably not win any of the Super tuesday states, just trail along hanging in. Pretty grim. But he has to learn his lesson: that it doesn't matter how much he's willing to fight, unless people think he's willing to fight for them.Right now it's all about Dean, and it's kind of painful to watch. It's not about Dean. He should have the crowd shouting not Dean, Dean, Dean! but America, America, America!

That'd be a good start. What was even more painful to observe though was the Kerry victory chant. The man can't do charisma if his life depended on it. And one thing that Bush has is charm. I think people are over-stating Edwards' personal charm. So far remember he hasn't been really criticized or gone negative. Once the oppo people start picking him apart, it'll get rough. Like he's been saying that he voted against the $87 billion for Iraq. Well the Senate vote was voice call only, and not recorded individually. The only voice you can hear on the tape saying no is Sen Byrd chanting No! No! No!

Anyway, I'm going to hang in there with my candidate and hope he get's some real advice from real people instead of his advisers. They believe in him too much, and can't be honest with him.
After he loses Super Tuesday maybe he'll wake up and realize, that to appeal to larger numbers of people he has to be more than Dean rockstar. Still even with all his flaws, for raw charisma there's no other Dem candidate cept Clark that even comes close. People tend ta either like him or they hate em, not much in between. Now he's gotta start figuring out how to make that work for him.

Losing Super Tuesday is gonna be rough ... but maybe he'll wake up then. :-) Survival of the fittest and all.

posted by: Oldman on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

Don't be surprised by volitility among the candidates. The number one criteria of a sizable number of Democrats (myself included) is who can win in November. All other considerations are secondary. Who has the best health care plan? Who has the best economic stimulus plan? Who has the best whatever? Who Cares! The important thing is to win.


This strikes me as remarkably similar to the attitiude displayed by Mario Cuomo some years ago, between the November election of Bill Clitnon, and the inauguration. Cuomo was quoted as saying at that stage, 'What I wanted is what (clinton) has done'. Since he was not in office, yet, one can only assume Cuomo was spekaing of Clinton's winning the election.

But what exactly does that get, if the policies espoused by each candidate, don't matter? It gets the only thing that matters to a Democrat; power. Power, one logically asks, to do what?

I mean, here we have it in black and white...(OK, two shades of gray) which policies are better for America don't matter to these people. All they care about is their political party.

Is this what Washington warned us about in his farewell address?

posted by: Bithead on 01.19.04 at 09:14 PM [permalink]

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