Bob's Links and Rants

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Monday, February 09, 2004

I feel for the Deaniacs out there. I was never much of a fan of the Doctor's. I don't like his positions on a lot of issues, and I find him to be a bit abrasive. But he definitely brought attention to the anti-war position, and he excited a lot of people. His rise and fall seems to be a clear case of the mighty few having much greater power in deciding who our next president is than even a huge number of ordinary voters. David Podvin suggests that Dean's downfall began with this statement to Chris Matthews on December 1: "We're going to break up the giant media enterprises." Podvin says that the media immediately began pushing the "Dean is unelectable" mantra on the public, and many Iowa voters seemed to have swallowed that sucker whole by the time of their caucuses.

I suggested last week that the media's playing of Dean went back to the beginning--they built him up to near inevitable status (who knows what they threatened Al Gore with to get him to endorse Dean). He was on the cover of Time and Newsweek, had weeks on weeks of Doonesbury devoted to him, and had a full hour on Meet the Press. Then, as Podvin describes, within the course of about three weeks the media reduced him to an also ran, knocking the life out his campaign and his legion of supporters.

I worked on the Kucinich campaign for about nine months. We never got anywhere near the boost that Dean got, even though our candidate actually was what a lot of Dean supporters mistakenly thought the doctor was. We ran on hope and on the theory that by buying the idea that Kucinich didn't have a chance that we would actually be validating it. If everyone who liked Dennis and his platform had supported him, we probably would have outnumbered the Deaniacs. But Dean got the attention, we didn't. We sent in our Publishers' Clearing House sweepstakes forms, hoping that just maybe Ed McMahon would show up on our doorstep and tell us that Dennis won the nomination. But I think most of us knew that it was unlikely, so as reality sets in we're dealing with some disappointment, but no shock.

The Deaniacs, on the other hand, were looking out the window expecting the sweepstake van to come. And the van came, and Ed McMahon got out with his camera crew, walked up the sidewalk, and knocked on the door. The Deaniacs answered excitedly, and Ed said "Can you tell me how to get to John Kerry's house?" Now that's disappointment!

Like I said, I wasn't a big Dean fan, and I don't think he deserved the front-runner status he enjoyed in December. But neither did he do anything that should have caused him to fall so fast. The "scream" was a non-event as far as I'm concerned--every candidate, and certainly the incumbent, does several things every day that wouldn't look flattering if they were played over and over and over again on every TV show. Big media wanted to take Dean down, and they took him down. The nation of the people, by the people and for the people appears to be perishing from the earth.