Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Dean: Coulda Been a Contender

TNR Editor Peter Beinart reminisces in Time magazine about Howard Dean.

Last winter Democratic-primary voters played political consultant. They tried to step inside the minds of swing voters and figure out which Democratic presidential candidate could beat George W. Bush. With an eye cast coldly on November, they rejected the man who had first won their hearts, Howard Dean, and flocked to the more "electable" choice, John Kerry. Among New Hampshire voters who said beating Bush was their biggest concern, Kerry beat Dean by a whopping 52 points.

Democratic voters should stick to their day jobs. With just five weeks until Election Day, there's reason to believe they guessed wrong — that Dean would be doing better against Bush than Kerry is...

Were Dean the nominee, the Bush campaign would probably be going after him not as a flip-flopper but as a lefty. Lefty isn't exactly a term of endearment. But at least it evokes issues rather than character. Character debates sank Al Gore and threaten to sink John Kerry now. A debate about issues, on the other hand — especially the biggest issue of all, Iraq — is something Democrats could win.

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