What kind of campaign are these guys running? Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, or Wesley Clark all ASK to have their names taken off the DC ballot. Because they were afraid that Iowa would get upset. Dean did not, so it seems likely that the week before the 'real' primaries, dean will get an easy 'win', one that looks good for the media, allowing him to get a lot of hype without having to pay any money.
And, what it demonstrates to me is that the other candidates just do not have what it takes to lead this country. As President, you are going to piss off a lot of people, ALL the time. That is the nature of the game. I may not care for how this administration does its job, but it does not sit around getting to worried about whether some people do not like what they have done. The message Dean sends is that he is trying to win the campaign and he will use every outlet. If he can not convince Iowans to vote for him, even if the DC primary happens first, then what sort of candidate is he? The other candidates demonstrate their belief that they can not do this, that their campaigns are so tenuous that getting a few people in Iowa ticked off could lose it all for them.
So mush of politics is perception. Only Dean has been running a along with the perception that he CAN win. All the others have had the view: 'PLEASE let me win in Iowa and New Hampshire. Or at least come in second. Then maybe I can build a campaign that will get me the nomination. Then I can build a campaign that will ...' what. Not be as bad as McGovern? The media has made a lot about Dean being angry. that is why he is getting popular. I believe that it is deeper than that. He is the only one who REALLY believes he can beat Bush now and in 2004. The others just hope they can be allowed to debate Bush. Dean knows he will debate and knows he will win.
In politics, perception often trumps reality. I knew that Clark was in real trouble when he decided to forego Iowa. He was afraid of losing. That is what so many of the Democrat candidates possess. They are more concerned about losing than about winning. Clark would have done better to stay in, to demonstrate that he is not afraid of losing one battle in order to lead the fight for the nomination. He has enough money from the political machines to keep going but I have not been impressed with his political choices.
Dean has been flaunting conventional wisdom for some time. Everyone said to avoid the Washington primary because the people in Iowa would be pissed. Dean ignored conventional wisdom, is now on the DC primary and has not been hurt in Iowa. Why? Because most of the voters in Iowa care about the candidate, not that Iowa is first. Only the political machines in Iowa and New Hampshire really care.
I like the meme that Dean is actually running a third party campaign but has found a way to maintain the Democrat brand. In every other third party campaign I have seen, the candidate had to go outside the party because the political machine would not support what the candidate wanted. No support, no candidate. Dean has used the Internet to get himself a huge amount of support WITHOUT much at all from the machine. He has more money, more key endorsements and more momentum than any machine anointed candidate, all without having to go begging for money from the major political interests. They have tried to stop and belittle him. Yet he keeps on going. He may very well require the Democratic party to chose a candidate who is not 100% beholden to the big money backers of the DNC.
Finally, there was a lot of hooey about Gore's endorsement of Dean, that it was not allowing the people to vote. But what have the very candidates done in DC? They have not allowed the people to vote. In reality, Gore and Dean did not take away anyone's right to vote. But in DC, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, and Wesley Clark all did. Which is why I do not expect any of them to be running for President next fall.
Update:There was a nice point brought up by Jennifer in the discussions at Daily Kos's site. Besides being a nice 'perception moment' with some good tactical play, if Dean wins in DC, it is a very good strategical play. He can then go to African-Americans in the South and (1) say that he won the primary in one of the highest proportion African-American areas of the country helping get his message across that he is not just an effete Northerner but someone who can resonate with minority voters, and (2) none of the other candidates bothered to run there, demonstrating that they simply do not care about minority voters. 8:56:51 AM