SHOULDA SEEN IT COMING
Needless to say… it more and more looks like I was totally wrong about Howard Dean’s inevitability. Seems that I radically underestimated how much harm the endless repetition of his strange post-Iowa yelp would do. Perhaps he’ll be able to turn things around at the debate, but who knows. John Kerry? I’m not a huge fan (seems like the kind of guy who’s been around for a long time without having done anything really noteworthy), but he’s certainly the closest thing out there to the “generic Democrat” who keeps performing better in general election polls than any actual Democrat.
Honestly, Matt, I think both sides of the aisle sold the Democratic nominating electorate short. Dean lacks both the experience and temperament to be president; we should have realized that the folks who vote in the primaries would figure that out soon enough. As crazy as the primary system is, it does expose the character of the candidates over time. Iowa and New Hampshire do this extremely well, since candidates have to spend nearly two years there to establish themselves in the “retail politics” those contests require. So, as strange as it is to have the nomination contingent on doing well in tiny, lily-white, unrepresentative states, the process actually works.
My guess right now is that either Clark or Edwards emerges from the process. And Edwards is the more likely of the two, since Clark seems to have much of the capacity for self-destruction that has killed Dean.
The only thing Kerry has going for him right now is momentum–he’s likely to be 2-0 after New Hampshire–and the fact that the other two viable candidates are both vying for the moderate-Southern-DLC vote. But a Massachussets liberal–even one with an admirable personal biography–isn’t likely to survive the South. But I’ve been wrong before. . .
If it’s any consolation, Kerry, Clark, or Edwards will all be far better general election candidates than Dean.