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Howard’s End?

Dean is in trouble, no doubt of it. Primary cause is the most excessive and gratuitous media assault on a presidential candidate in recent times…Dean failed to accept the fact that before you can get elected by the people you have to be selected by the crowd in charge. You don’t just run for president in the Democratic Party (unless you’re a Sharpton or Kucinich doomed from the start); you ask permission nicely just like Clinton did. Show the elite that you want to come to Washington to serve them, not lead others.

It’s bad enough when a Georgia peanut farmer like Carter tries it, but Dean came out of the establishment himself so his crime was worse: betrayal rather than naiveté. And he paid the price.

It’s not political. Washington is a place where more things are done illegally or under the table than just about anywhere in the world. Where your laws are made–and broken–as Mark Russell used to say. And it’s the world’s most powerful private club. If you want to get ahead here the first thing you’ve got to do is shut your mouth. And show you respect the people who really run the place. Dean didn’t do that.

Dean had some other problems, though. The exit polls suggest that he had far narrower appeal than it originally appeared. He had the young and the very liberal but these were the only groups squarely in his camp. They were out there and being counted early. What wasn’t being counted were the undecideds and the initially apathetic. Part of the really bad news for Dean is that he was unable to expand his core constituency.

Finally, not since Muskie cried in New Hampshire and Dukakis was photographed with his ears sticking out under a tank helmet has a candidate so facilely hurt himself as Dean did with his election night hysterics. One got the feeling that the doctor might have tried to dope himself up on tranquilizers but somehow picked the wrong bottle.

THE WAR AT HOME

The good news is that the exit polls show the economy and jobs as top issue (29%), followed by health care (28%), and only then trailed by the war (14%) and national security (3%). It is likely one reason that Edwards picked up steam was his ability to put the economic issues in plain language.

WHY DIDN’T YOU LOVE ME IN NOVEMBER LIKE YOU DO TODAY?

Dick Gephardt had all the candidates slobbering over him as they attempted to pick off his supporters. If he had really been as great as they said he would, why did they bother to run?

WHAT’S LEFT

Dean has probably done himself in, Clark hopefully will follow suit, aided by HIS constant braggadocio such as the claim, “I won a war,” which not only ignores the others involved, but overlooks the minuscule strength of the opponent. . . This pretty much leaves us with an arrogant preppie who thinks he knows everything or a affable southern trial lawyer who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

That Kerry presents a political danger to the Democrats is suggested by the uncomfortably telling phrase that conservative columnist James Tarranto always uses in mentioning the senator: “the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, who by the way served in Vietnam.”

Besides, if Kerry runs, that means our choice will be limited to two members of Skull & Bones and if either one were to actually tell us the true meaning of that, they would have to immediately kill us.

SAM SMITH is the publisher of the Progressive Review, where this column originally appeared.

 

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Sam Smith edits the Progressive Review.

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