Saturday, May 14, 2005


"Thank God It Wasn't Howard Dean!"

That's what Florida Republican activists were saying last year, according to Matt Taibbi:

When I was in Florida volunteering for Bush, this came up quite a bit. Everybody there was so glad Kerry was the nominee. They all said the same thing: Thank God it wasn't Howard Dean. They felt Dean would have turned out the kids. It was clear even people who were going to vote for Kerry weren't enthusiastic about him. I traveled with Dean, and I could see, from a horse race perspective, his electoral weaknesses. But this guy was turning out crowds of 10,000 people in the summer of 2003. If you went to a Kerry rally late in the primaries -- after he was already the nominee, basically -- you'd be lucky to find 300 or 400 people.
Actually, Kerry and Edwards did manage, after the convention, to get Dean-sized crowds. But that didn't happen until the fall of 2004. As Taibbi says, Dean was getting those crowds nearly a year and a half earlier, at a time when, according to established wisdom, most folks aren't supposed to care about the upcoming elections. I will never, ever forget the first event, in June of 2003, that was to have showcased all the Democratic candidates (well, it would have, except that Karl Rove had Bill Frist schedule a key floor vote that day, forcing Senators Kerry, Edwards, Graham and Lieberman to stay away). It was held in Saint Paul, right as Dean was being told by all the media pundits that his son's being arrested for a stupid teenage prank would doom his horrible, out-of-step, unpatriotic campaign. Guess what? On that day, the Dean people OWNED that hall. And the sidewalks in front of it. There were a good two hundred of us on the sidewalks alone with our huge signs made at sign parties a few nights before, and untold hundreds inside with blue-and-yellow 8 1/2"-by-11" Dean signs. It was a Sea of Dean, and when he showed up and saw the crowd outside -- Minnesota for Dean didn't tell him that they were planning anything remotely like this -- his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

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