January 11, 2004

The last refuge of the defeated

Mark Steyn on the Democratic party's primaries:

The trouble is the unDean is different everywhere you look. In the Granite State, Laura and co. reckon the unDean is Kerry. In Iowa, it’s Dick Gephardt, the soporific 1970s union throwback. In Arizona, it’s General Wesley Clark, the pantomime stalking-horse entered by the Clintons. In South Carolina, it seems to be the Revd Al Sharpton, the distinguished race-baiter. And all these states are voting in the next month, which means, no matter how well he does, each unDean could be undone by some other unDean a couple of days later.


But what both Clark and Kerry are trying to do is tap into the most successful aspect of Dean’s campaign: its tonal quality. Either because he’s a doctor or the son of Park Avenue toffs, Dean was always arrogant as governor of Vermont. But he was never quite so steamed as he is these days. Whether consciously or not, he seemed to figure out that the shrewdest way to tap into the Democrats’ anti-Bush anger was by using anti-war anger as a cover. Let me expand on that: whether or not most Dems are genuinely anti-war is neither here nor there. What matters is that they’re genuinely anti-Bush, and an anti-war position is the least insane garb to dress it up in. It would be hard to do all that ‘Bush is Hitler!!!!’ stuff over his ‘No Child Left Behind’ Education Act or his prescription-drug plan for seniors: the Dems would come over as even loopier than they already do. Thus, an anti-war anger is necessary to license their anti-Bush anger. Dean understood that.