Joshua Sharf, proprietor of the View from a Height blog, agrees with my view that Dean wants badly to win and will tack towards the center in an effort to do so. He writes:
“Got to agree with you and go against the readers on this one. There’s nothing in Dean’s performance so far that indicates he wants to do anything other than win. Sealing the records, managing his money smartly, attacking the Washington party, which often works for the party out of power. In Vermont, he wasn’t a raving lunatic. He was probably planning this campaign for several years, possibly since 2000. The staff of one of the Vermont newspapers has a book on him out, presumably compiled from their reports. It’s worth taking a look at.
“He’s almost certainly counting on the convention to ‘reintroduce’ himself to the public. Clinton had made many mistakes by the time of the 92 convention, but used it effectively. There are a couple of reasons this might not work for Dean. In 04, the public has seen much more comprehensive pre-convention coverage of Dean. Count on a lot of that coverage to be White House advertising. People aren’t looking for a reason to vote against Bush. Unless something catastrophic forces people to give Dean a second look, nothing he does at the convention can help him there.
“Also, 92’s Democratic convention was stage-managed wonderfully by a party desperate to win. But a majority of Dean supporters want red meat, and the convention will have to feed that beast, or risk a listless floor. He’s declared war on party establishment. If they don’t think he can win, they have little or no incentive to cooperate with him. Dean probably won’t listen to establishment advice that says he risks costing the Democrats a lot of races lower down, either. These factors may limit his ability to stage a moderate convention.”
The upshot of all of this, I believe, is that Dean will end up trying to move to the center, but will ultimately appear schizophrenic, as losing candidates often do. But regardless of whose forecast turns out to be correct, this is going to be one of the most fascinating stories of 2004.
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