Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, August 28, 2003
 
The Amazing Race

Any doubts that the Internet is revolutionizing politics should be put to rest at this point. Remember, the Iowa caucuses are still months away. Not one vote has been counted. And yet the Democratic race has totally turned over from where it was a year ago. Back then, Dean was the longshot outsider, running at 2% or even worse in the polls. Lieberman and Kerry were the favorites.

The most recent poll shows Dean with a 20 point lead in New Hampshire. Today, with nine official candidates in the race, we can pretty much say that eight of them don't matter. This is now a two way race, and one of the candidates isn't even in it yet.

Dean has established this dominance almost entirely through the Internet. He has used it brilliantly as an organizing toll, publicity machine, and especially for fundraising. Dean's lead in the polls isn't in itself crushing to his opponents, not with a large undecided bloc and months before the primary. But when combined with his growing advantage in money, and their total lack of traction, it probably is.

With other candidates flat or sinking in the polls, only Clark can now beat Dean. True, he got a weak 2% in this poll. I admit I was hoping for a number in the 5 - 10 range, but without having declared his candidacy, run any ads, or made any speeches in New Hampshire, there is no grounds for panic. Dean himself has shown how to go from nowhere to a strong showing with a compelling candidate.

If you want proof that Clark matters, look no further than the Mighty Wurlitzer, which is revving up very loudly in the past few days with a clear purpose:smear General Clark. The sudden rush seems to be partly an attempt to start putting anti-Clark memes into the media, and partly a warning to Clark: this, and more, is what we'll do to you if you decide to run. Either way, it shows that the right has concluded the same thing that many Democrats have: Clark can win the nomination and he can beat Bush. That conclusion is worth noting: these guys may be ignorami when it comes to running the country, but they are very good at winning elections (and stealing the close ones that they lose). If they weren't they wouldn't have had the opportunity to show their incompetence at governing.



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