Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Re: Bush and Dean

I largely agree with Joe that Dean needs some sort of bounce-back in New Hampshire. I actually think that with his money and organization, he might be able to survive another 3d place finish--barely--but he would need to win somewhere on March 3. Obviously, that's not much of a scenario since he's better situated to win New Hampshire than any of the seven Feb. 3 states (S.C., Okla., Az., N.M., Del., Mo., and N.D.). Other than Gephardt, the big loser in Iowa was actually Joe Lieberman. The resurrection of Kerry and Edwards freezes him out. Not a bad thing when the night produces a huge surprise showing for my guy (Edwards), finishes my second-least favorite alternative (Gephardt) and puts my least favorite on the ropes (Lieberman). Obviously the damage to Dean will be clearer next Tuesday. I entirely agree that his post-speech may have hurt him as much as the results. I thought he was going for the Jesse Ventura-WWF vote. One note: the polling effects of an event often take a few days to show up, so we should know the true damage by Thursday or so. I agree that Clark also was hurt by the Iowa results. They generated a lot of positive energy for Kerry and Edwards and erased the air of inevitability around Dean. Clark had run his campaign anticipating that Dean and Gephardt would come out of Iowa 1-2 and that he, Clark, would be the guy who stop the frontrunner. Now he's just one of four possibilities.

As for the State of the Union address, I thought it was simply a recitation of Bush's policy positions designed to appeal to the base. There were no surprises, and, as such, it likely will be overshadowed by the campaign rather than vice versa. I tend to agree that he has muddied the waters on the Iraq intelligence enough to keep his supporters from discovering their consciences without lying outright. I frankly was surprised he addressed it at all. I also agree that the prison reentry idea was a really food one. I suspect that it's this year's version of the AIDS research aid to Africa which we hear in the SoU and never again. Either that or it will be coupled with privatized prisons or drilling in ANWR or something.

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