Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

David Brooks has more insightful advice for the Democrats:

Today, the Dean campaign is immeasurably stronger, but faces its second test. Bush’s recent successes have halted Dean’s momentum. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now approve of the president’s performance, while roughly a fifth of voters say they hate or strongly dislike him — calling into question a campaign built almost entirely on mobilizing the Democratic base. If there is a moment to rethink Dean’s campaign, this is it.

And yet the mood within the Democratic establishment is dour and fatalistic. While most Washington Democrats expect that Dean will get trounced in the fall, they are not trying to head off the catastrophe. Some fear a party feud more than a defeat. Some don’t want to get on the bad side of the likely Democratic nominee. Some privately love what Dean says even as they fear he will lead to disaster. Most important, the Democratic establishment lacks the will to stand up for its beliefs.

[…]

Presidential campaigns climb a hill of righteous indignation. By the time they squared off in South Carolina in 2000, the Bush and McCain campaigns loathed each other. But in the Democratic race, the Dean campaign has all the loathing and the passion.

It is a loathing not only for Bush but also for the Democratic establishment, and contempt for its weakness. Nothing has so vindicated the Dean campaign as the Democratic establishment’s pallid response to it.

Just as Bush and McCain were able to bury the hatchet (although McCain wanted to bury it in Bush’s skull) for the remainder of the 2000 campaign, by Super Tuesday the Democrats will know they have to rally around the nominee – Dean or otherwise – and present a united front against the Rove machine. Of course, David would love it if it didn’t happen that way. This is his version of “Let’s you and him fight.”