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January 20, 2004

The Recipe For A Third Party Candidacy

Take a tin ear and one heaping cup of anger with how things turned out in Iowa.

Add a few ounces of crusading mentality.

We, a campaign of the people, have the power to take our country back, to make sure the people run the government. You have the power to revitalize our democracy and restore the United States to a place of respect in the world.

I ask you to stand up and stand together with me. To stand up to the special interests and the political establishment. To stand up for our democracy. No one is going to do it for you -- you have to do it, you have to stand up for change."

Stir some true believers into the mix.

"Moderation is not working any more, and it doesn't seem as if any of the other candidates realise that," says Eric Elliott, a newly unemployed dotcommer from California who spent three days on the road to get here. Many of the volunteers are motivated by anger - although anger is a word that annoys Dean supporters because they say it makes them sound irrational. But it is not entirely clear why they are angry. There is the conservative Christian ascendancy, the swelling deficit under President Bush, the tax cuts for the rich, and Al Gore's failure to become president despite winning the popular vote in the 2000 election. Several of the volunteers barely mention the Iraq war as their reason for backing Mr Dean - although he is viewed as the anti-war candidate.

Instead, theirs is a more generalised discontent. It found an outlet in Mr Dean and it transformed the former governor from Vermont from an outsider - dismissed by the US media and pollsters - into a contender.

Leaven with the idea that in order to win, Howard Dean must embrace... Howard Dean.

But clarity has since given way to gobbledygook in the Dean camp. Heeding the advice of his aides to watch his words and make himself less available to the press, Dean tried in a brief meeting with scribes two weeks ago to explain his propensity for gaffes.

"There's been more than one time," he said, "when I've said something, and sort of the middle of what I've said is not said but thought, and therefore assumed to be understood, which is a ridiculous assumption on my part, but sometimes gets me in trouble.".

Cut with a reflexive disdain for centrism.

The rapidly escalating war of words between Howard Dean and the Democratic Party's leading centrists is reopening old ideological divides suppressed during Bill Clinton's presidency and raising new fears about Dean's ability to unite the party if he wins the nomination for president.

Party centrists were stunned Monday when Dean denounced the Democratic Leadership Council, a group that provided many of the key ideas for Clinton's "New Democrat" agenda, as "the Republican wing of the Democratic Party."

Fold an in-all-but-words dismissal of earlier pledges to support the eventual Democratic nominee into the batter.

Cook until midsummer. Remove and serve piping hot to the Democrat of your choice. Insist that no, it tastes nothing like Nader cake they choked down back in 2000.

Caution: Handle with care. Ingredients are explosive.

Posted by Bigwig at January 20, 2004 10:07 PM | TrackBack
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