Alex's Outlook

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Fear Howard Dean

It's become conventional wisdom that Howard Dean is 2004's George McGovern, sprinting so far to the left that he will drag his entire party down with him. That is completely wrong. Howard Dean is the strongest possible Democratic candidate, in my opinion. He can mobilize the most hardcore Democratic support, but also has a lot of moderate appeal. He was a fiscal conservative who kept Vermont's budget balanced all the time without (as far as I know) any tax hikes. He established a statewide healthcare initiative. He got straight A's from the NRA all the time as Governor, which means that the NRA will have to sit this election out unless Dean flipflops. That's important, because the NRA has become essentially a get-out-the-vote arm of the Republican Party. By its own estimate, it can mobilize about 1.5% of the vote on election day, which is huge. Dean has "triangulated" gun control the same way Bush has done with health care.

I think all the Democrats are going to be easily beatable in 2004, but Dean can outflank Bush on the deficit, and maybe health care.

Lieberman seems like the weakest one to me, because he offers voters nothing that Bush doesn't offer already, not to mention that he is old and an insufferably dull public speaker. Gephardt has some steam in the primary because of his union clout, House endorsements and health care boondoggle, but his ideas are basically 15 years too old. Kerry and Edwards are both seen as sleazebags who wanted to have the Iraq issue both ways. (Kerry is still potent; Edwards' campaign isn't going anywhere.) Graham, Sharpton, Braun and Kucinich should never have gotten in the race to start with.

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