Monday, January 26, 2004

New Hampshire Dawn

A big snow storm is predicted for New Hampshire tomorrow, and the secretary of state is predicting a record turn-out for the Democratic primary.

There's tons of negative stuff about the new front-runner John Kerry circulating out there, and I'm loath to link to any of it here. But he's the Company Man and an easy target. Unelectable, of course, especially in the South. Molly Ivins, in her wrap-up column about the Iowa caucuses, says Kerry "could take the excitement out of a soccer riot." But the Matrixy Media has obviously anointed him.

John Edwards has continued to rise and might beat Clark for third place (last week he could conceivably have beat Howard Dean for second place, but the numbers this morning don't confirm that kind of surge). Clark's lag is downright surprising.

'Course, the headline news of this morning is that Dean has pulled back to within three points of Kerry's lead, according to a new Zogby poll. Tomorrow will tell if that's a mirage.

In the meantime, check out these 30-second TV spots a Dean supporter did on his own. They're far and away better than most of the expensive, consultant-generated TV ads that the Dean campaign has been able to manufacture.

And on the subject of optimistic participation in the process of Democracy, WataugaWatch brings you an exclusive. The January 12th issue of Newsweek did a very negative cover story, "Doubts About Dean," which featured, prominently, critical comments about the Dean campaign from three bloggers on the DeanforAmerica site. In fact, the piece opened by quoting them:

"The murmurs of doubt are faint, barely audible above the background hum of the Internet cosmos, but they are worth listening to at the moment, for the doubters don't seem to be 'trolls' -- provocateurs in digital disguise -- and they express concerns about their favorite son, Dr. Howard Dean, in the bosom of his own blogosphere. 'Dammit, tell him to get his mouth under control!' says 'WVMicko' on a forum conducted by Dean's official Web site. 'He's been all over the map on a lot of things, and the way he shoots off his mouth is a big reason why.' A poster to the site named 'Lancaster' frets that his wife is put off by Dean's confrontational personality. 'Her initial reaction to Dean? "That guy scares me." Now, I'm not a full-fledged Deanie, but I'm strongly leaning that way ... but she's still not convinced that Dean is the right guy for the job.' A writer named 'irmaly' also views Dean's personality as a vulnerability. 'I am a strong Dean supporter,' irmaly declares, 'but I think the campaign is missing this most important point -- the need to focus strongly on getting up over the perception of "mean, angry Dean." Dean is portrayed as a man who, rather than share a beer in a local hangout, will fight you for yours. I realize this isn't true, but Bush and Company knows perception is everything, and they have already had some success at seriously hurting Dean on this perception. I don't know how you get up over this, but you have to, or we will lose.' "

"WVMicko," "Lancaster," and "irmaly" got together and wrote a letter to the editor about Newsweek's use of their insider criticism of the good doctor. Newsweek wouldn't publish their letter. But WataugaWatch will, right here:


We are the three Dean for America bloggers who were quoted in the lead of your recent article on Howard Dean ("The Dean Dilemma" by Howard Fineman).

There's no denying that we were taken back by the use of our constructive criticsm of Dr. Dean in Mr. Fineman's article to imply that Dr. Dean's supporters have doubts about his campaign. There are many iewpoints, but the most prevalent is that the encouragement of rambunctious rassroots debate -- to which the campaign pays close attention -- is one of Dr. Dean's greatest strengths. It's a source of grassroots power that no other candidate can match, and in the words of Lincoln, the truest expression of government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Dr. Dean has built this movement by doing the one simple thing which President Bush failed to do: asking ordinary Americans for their help in solving the problems of our nation. For so many who are disaffected by modern politics, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, this optimistic cooperation of Dr. Dean's campaign is the cure for the political cynicism so common today.

Yet it's ironic that this article, in which doubts concerning Dr. Dean's campaign was such a powerful theme, acted primarily to strengthen it. The true story of Mr Fineman's article is not what he wrote, but the response he generated among his readers. The debate concerning Mr. Fineman's article and our joint response to it has for days been the most intensely watched topic at the Dean for America Forum, over three thousand people -- campaign staffers, grassroots supporters and the undecided alike -- who are watching and participating in a small piece of Internet democracy in action.

Mr. Fineman aired many issues in his article, and as Dr. Dean's supporters we are of course tempted to rebut them. But instead, we'll let the medium be the message, and let the response generated at Dean for America by Mr. Fineman's article speak for itself. All interested Americans are invited to come to www.deanforamerica and take a look. It's your campaign!

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