January 20, 2004
Pragmatism is the theme from last night's Iowa caucuses. With Dean not winning it shows Iowa Democrats care more about defeating President Bush than making the election an anti-Bush temper tantrum. That's good for the continued viability of the Democratic Party as well as civilized political discourse. But it's bad for TAM's Duck Hunt.
Sen. John Kerry's victory salvaged his campaign. The win will give him a big boost in New Hampshire. We'll see how that plays when two other candidates (Clark and Lieberman) are duking it out.
I thought Dean would get the nomination. He still could do it, but I'm not very confident with my prediction. I fell into the Internet frenzy that catapulted Duck, M.D. to the head of the pack. I figured Dean's campaign tapped into something the other candidates didn't. All the while I was castigating the raft for thinking the Duck, M.D. campaign was revolutionary movement. I called it a "decentralized marketing campaign pushing a candidate as the product." Oops! If Howard the Duck would have stuck with Chris Suellentrop's suggestion not to be "a blunt, moderate Democrat and his policies" instead of becoming "a campaign about a messianic figure and his movement" he wouldn't have rose to the top or garnered such intense support (deep but not broad as Iowa showed).
Iowans appear to have been turned off by the swarm of Deaniacs who invaded their state both in person and through the mail. One Deaniac gave a possible explanation for Duck, M.D.'s thrashing:
How would you feel if you were bombarded by letters telling YOU which candidate to vote for? Yes, it keeps us grunts energized writing all those letters, but the irritation factor was probably high (and I bet the internal polls confirm this). Edwards' juvenile comment about not wanting "y'all" to tell US what to do, may have a message in it for us Dean supporters.
Dave in Wisconsin wrote,
The remarks read better than they watched, Burlington.
Then there's the ever-present Bush hatred:
The Gov deserves our RESPECT and support for what he has done..to bring us all together against this Admin, which is RUINING OUR LIVES!
My little boys deserve a President who believes in them. And Heaven knows they're not safe under a Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz administration.
If anyone writes anything critical about Dr. Duck they're labeled a "troll" and discounted. That's not the actions of people engaged in reasonable debate. It's quasi-cultism where any deliniation from the group's conventional wisdom is deemed apostasy.
The Deaniacs need to take Matt Stoller's post to heart:
Now Kucinich is viable. They took enough chunks from the Kerry/Edwards/Sharpton folk to get a delegate. What a disaster for the new politics. Dean could play in the new world, but as JFK showed in 1960, it wasn't enough to be great on TV. He had to win the machines first. Dean won the internet in July, but lost Iowa in February.
To go back to the theme of pragmatism, in order for any Democratic nominee to not be completely dominated in an air war by Bush/Cheney their only two choices are Dean and Kerry because both of them refused to take federal matching funds. Kerry has momentum, but just like Iowa changed quickly from Dean to Kerry, New Hampshire could fluctuate.
On to Howard the Duck's "consession" speech. It was filled with fury, and he loved it. He eyes were bright and penetrating reveling in the fury he could generate from the crowd. His fists were pumping as he called out all the states he was going to fight in. Then he ended it with some undescribable yell [via Drudge]. What was that noise? MSNBC's Keith Olbermann had this to say about the speech:
Suddenly Dean's in third place and worse yet, he called his own defeat long before any of the results were official. And then wound up the night with one of the weirdest interludes in recent political history: Not only did he play 'I can name all the states,' but he seemed to be doing some cross between wrestler Hulk Hogan... and jazz immortal Louie Armstrong.
Alan Simpson called him a "prairie dog on speed."
Is there some equivalent to Mad Cow Disease for ducks? If not, call the vets, I think I found the first case last night.
Howard the Duck's post-caucus speech was so unique it confused Al-Jazeera. Their story (which appears to be from the AFP wire) is titled "Dean Vows to Fight Every State." Maybe something was lost in translation. I'll let you be the judge.
One member of Dean's raft was so "confident" in his candidate that she bet a San Francisco Chronicle reporter that Duck, M.D. would get less than 30%. The woman won. Get me her number. I want her Super Bowl pick. Pats or Cats?
Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi had the best spin of the night when he told the LA Times, "It's kind of like we're back [to the position] where we're the best, where he's the insurgent." Trippi must be tripping out if he really thinks his man won by losing.
Jeff Jarvis revels in Dr. Duck's defeat. Of course, some would say his opinion doesn't count since he's not liberal enough.
Kos lists last night's winners and losers.
"Shattering Iowa Myths"
UPDATE: THE place to go in the blogosphere for Iowa coverage is The Command Post.