November 9, 2003


What You Say Can't Hurt You Until It Can (RICHARD L. BERKE, 11/09/03, NY Times)

For all the hoopla last week over Howard Dean's musings about the Confederate flag, they should not have come as a surprise. He made similar comments as far back as February, at a national meeting of the Democratic Party. That was not even the first time. At event after event, countless reporters, party stalwarts and even Dr. Dean's rivals in the presidential campaign had heard him say he hoped to draw support from Southerners who display that flag.

So why, now, are Dr. Dean's remarks so incendiary, when for so long they were not deemed worthy of even a squib in most papers, or a peep from his opponents? [...]

"Everyone now has got their guns locked and loaded at Howard Dean — it's that simple," said Rachel Gorlin, a Democratic strategist.

So when aides to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, who see Dr. Dean as obstructing their path to the White House, spotted the quotation in The Des Moines Register last weekend, they pounced.

The larger point being that the lines Democrats are using, and the ideas they're trying out, before the rather narrow margin of the political spectrum that is represented by the media and party activists may not play well in the real world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 9, 2003 8:55 AM

If Dean's been saying that since February, and Kerry and Gephardt didn't notice or didn't think it important enough to get a friendly reporter to mention it in a column, and if it's really important that he says such things, doesn't that tell you something about how few people are paying attention to the Democrats?

Posted by: pj at November 9, 2003 9:05 AM

It also speaks to the fear they all have of staking out a position of their own: only Dean and Kucinich have really done that (Sharpton as well, although corruption and rabble-rousing can hardly be called a position).

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 9, 2003 12:11 PM

Lieberman has, as well... Unfortunately, it's nearly as unpopular as Kucinich's.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 9, 2003 6:19 PM