Wow. After hearing all the old-time Iowans and other so-called caucus experts wax on about the importance of organization and how great Geppy and Dean's respective organizations were, being no expert on the Iowa caucus, I was still left to wonder if the polls trends could be as irrelevant as some pundits seemed to think. Uh, no.
What I was right about:
1. Dean's implosion was imminent and it was self-inflicted. Yes, as the front-runner he took a few hits and whined incessantly about it. Telling old men, "You sit down," doesn't play well in Iowa, or most places. I'm also guessing mindless, state-listing rants, followed by a "yeeaah!" won't play well most places either. I wonder if he could win Vermont now. Yes, they will say, "We have a fifty state organization." We also heard they had the biggest, most sophisticated organization in Iowa. And we'll hear, "But we have money!" Yes, and they spent more than any candidate ever in Iowa. Look where it got you with a lousy candidate.
2. When people pay attention to Edwards, he does very well. He may be the best campaigner of the whole bunch. As Clinton once said, "He could talk an owl out of a tree." He could whip Bush if he gets the chance. If he doesn't, either Clark or Kerry would be wise to make him the VP.
3. Gephardt is a very good man whose campaign was a miserable failure. I was amazed all fall when pundits kept indicating he would be the "anti-Dean." Tired. Very tired.
4. Trippi is no genius. He is on to something, but over-estimated it. He works on another losing campaign. This one will be historic in its collapse.
What I was wrong about:
1. Kerry's campaign is obviously not dead. When he mortgaged his house to finance his campaign I thought it was like a pitcher who has lost his fast ball refusing to retire.
Where from here:
1. Dean needs to retool. He won't. He can't. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, particularly on the blogosphere, his political instincts suck. His message: "You have the power!"; "I stood up against George Bush!"; "We can't win by being Bush-lite."
I've been amazed by Deaniacs who claim Clark has no specifics. And Dean does? He may have some position papers somewhere, but I always hear the same old thing. Clark has now become a much more fleshed out candidate than Dean. The Doctor had the same approach tonight: I'm a fighter!! I'm gonna kick everyone's ass!! Guess what Howard? We just don't care. I vigorously opposed the war from day one. It made and still makes me viscerally angry. I wish Kerry and Edwards had voted differently. I wish the Democrats had questioned it more. But I would still vote for Edwards, and even Kerry, over Dean. Tweety and friends have trouble understanding this. They think voters must have been confused. Howie thought he needed to drive the point home in the waning days. It didn't matter. The world is more complicated than that. I've always thought that Dean has had loser written all over him. Maybe he should run for Senator when it opens up.
2. Gephardt. Class act. Good man. Good public servant. Probably feeling a bit spent right now. Perhaps he can win a senate seat for us in Missouri.
3. Clark will likely be a target in NH. Perhaps everyone will be. Kerry may quickly ride the wave into first-place and the grudge match between him and Dean may take center stage in regard to nastiness.
4. Chris Lehane was been the object of irrational hatred in certain quarters of the blogosphere, including the Daily Dean. It has been way over the top. Nonetheless, the guy is a creepy little jerk who does not play well on TV. He needs to keep his name out of print media, as well. Someone needs to get a clue and bury this dude away from sight.