Friday, June 04, 2004
Dean & McGovern: The KY Connection
"My thesis, as it is, is that the demise of Dean, and reflexive ascendancy of Kerry, has everything to do with 1972, and that, consequently, even though the 'McGovern' candidate of the (D) party got the ax, we still have a lot to learn from the results of the '72 election, and we are still likely to repeat them."
One of the big issues in the (D) primaries this year was "electability," a nebulous descriptor that is basically a measure of a candidate's ability to win votes from people who know fuck-all about the issues, or have an IQ that's smaller than their waistline - which is roughly three-quarters of the electorate.
Last winter, even as Dean led by huge margins in the polls of likely voters, he also had a disturbingly high "dislike" rating. On top of his ability to inspire contempt, Dean was also a representative of the anti-establishment (D) left-wing, a segment of the party that doesn't have a real good record of turning out candidates who can actually win elections. These two factors combined were a persistent drag of Dean's perceived "electability," and yet he led steadily in the polls until just a few days before Iowa.
The legacy of the (D) left-wing in recent memory is one of disastrous and humiliating defeat. Mondale and McGovern were both defeated in embarrassing popular landslides, and virtual shut-outs in the Electoral College.
Dean, who's signature issue was opposition to the war in Iraq, definitely invited comparison to McGovern, who had similarly hung his hat on opposition to Vietnam. This comparison, needless to say, was not a positive one, in terms of inspiring confidence in the (D) punters that Dean was the magic guy who could bring it all home for them in November.
Dean's failure in Iowa was probably in part due to his perceived lack of "electability." Other factors may be numerous, and other people probably have a better grip on them than me, but one thing that really bothered me personally about Dean, as the primaries actually drew near, was that he stopped hammering his key anti-Bush/war message, and instead devolved into finding religion, introducing his wife to the world, attacking Dick Gephardt, and apologizing/issuing retractions for a seemingly endless string of gaffed statements.
The night of the Iowa primary I was working till 9:00pm, so I missed getting to see it all go down, but a friend was texting me results, and needless to say, I was surprised by the results, even though polls from that day (or maybe the day before) had actually predicted the last minute shift away from Dean. Then, when it was all over - and Dean took the stage to address his volunteer army of dim witted poli-sci geeks - well, you know what happened.
After the speech Dean looked more like Eagleton than McGovern, and all of the bandwagon hopping bigshots who had joined up with him - against their party chairman, and believing that he was a sure thing - began tearing up the ship for scrap, in the hopes that they could float away from the wreckage, before they were pulled down in the draft with it. The press, who had previously been openly fellating even low-level Dean staffers simply on request, now went out of their way to crucify Dean in an attempt to make up for the sad fact that they once again TOTALLY MISSED the story, and had failed in every way to predict or prepare their readers for what happened.
Overnight, Dean was finished, and somebody had to be The Candidate, so the voters pulled John Kerry's name out of the hat, not based on his appeal, or because they agreed with him on the issues, but because he seemed to be "electable." And that is why we have a cheeseball jackass, who nobody likes, running as the Democratic Candidate for President of the United States in this fine and beautiful year of 2004.