Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Monday, August 11, 2003
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People Agree: Dean's Electable And Sexy

Whoa, now Salon's Joan Walsh is getting it:

Two weeks ago I whacked the Democratic Leadership Council for bashing Dean as too "far left" to beat George Bush. But I took a shot at Dean, too, saying I thought Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was more electable. As usual, whenever you diminish Dean (or say something nice about another Democrat, especially Kerry), I got spammed by Dean's vast army of netizens. Some were nasty, most were nice. Several invited me to Dean Meetups in their town, so I could see firsthand the way the good doctor was resuscitating democracy.
I caught up with Dean, literally (I had to chase him down the street after a speech to the United Food and Commercial Workers convention) on July 31, a couple of days after the DLC had whacked him. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who gets his talking points from Al From, was taking the gloves off, too
What did I learn? I got enough to let me refute some of the latest media stereotypes about him. He was pretty nice to me for a brusque guy some folks call "mean," given I approached him with a lot of skepticism and I didn't have a scheduled interview. He's, um, a little bit short -- I don't care, but other people bring it up! -- but you forget about it quickly, especially when you're having to run to keep up with his energetic wrestler's stride. He's also sort of ... sexy, which I mention because it counteracts the associations folks have with short, which is supposedly not charismatic or presidential, and also probably because I'm shallow.
I didn't need alone time with Dean to shed my cynicism about his electability as much as I needed to see his effect on other people. And I saw that at his two San Francisco speeches and the Meetup the next week. At his July 31 environmental address, which was open to the public, he packed the generic chandaliered ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel with several hundred admirers, of whom I knew exactly two. There was a teeming crowd out front waiting for him ... like he was Bruce Springsteen or something. And despite stereotypes about the former Vermont governor's limited racial appeal, it was a pretty diverse crowd, with an almost respectable turnout of African Americans, Asians and Latinos. Sure, I saw a white guy in dreads and a white guy in a little knit kufi and I smelled patchouli once, but I also saw corporate folks in suits and suburban socialites. I saw the campaign's techy backers, too, at least a half-dozen 20-somethings capturing Dean's entrance with those cool little cameras in their cellphones.
Does all this mean I think Dean can win the nomination and beat Bush? I still have no idea. Although he's leading in key primary states, he still trails at least Lieberman and Kerry, and sometimes Gephardt too, in national polls among Democrats. But the comparisons to Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988 are silly: They were both charisma-impaired party regulars who never really excited the base, let alone captured the mainstream. Dean has the capacity to do both, which doesn't mean he ultimately will. The links to George McGovern strike me as more sound: The South Dakota senator inspired a lefty base but could never catch fire with moderates. But I'd say Dean's already made more inroads with the mainstream than McGovern ever did -- and has the potential to do much more.
[T]wo months ago, it was hard to imagine Dean moving into the lead in the early primary states or taking the Time and Newsweek covers by storm. We still don't know if he's George McGovern or Jimmy Carter, but he's earned serious political attention and respect. Finally, he's got mine.

(via Suburban Guerrilla)

It's a long piece, and really quite good. Some of the usual stuff you've seen before, but there's some additional insight and flavor. If you aren't a Salon subscriber, you can cheat the same way I do and select the Free Day Pass option.

If you'd like to support Dean, join his campaign. There are currently over 280,000 people signed up, and the goal is 450,000 on board by the end of September.


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