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December 15, 2003
"We're Not About Anger," He Replied Furiously

Today's Washington Post takes a look at the Dean campaign, which more than ever seems to be all about tapping into anti-Bush fervor instead of actual political thought:

But even though he has emerged as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination -- and his one-sedan campaign entourage has morphed into a full-scale motorcade, complete with press bus -- the Dean campaign is still running primarily on the tonic that fueled his rise: Democratic loathing of President Bush.

All over Iowa, Dean encounters Democrats who get a "searing pain" from the president. "What we think of Bush can't be printed in a family newspaper," said John Kaiser, a veteran Iowa Democrat who decided to support Dean only after long, personal talks with four other contenders. "And Dean is the guy who has tapped that outrage."

I recall a time not too long ago when Democrats accused Republicans of irrational hate against Bill Clinton, clucking their tongues at anyone and everyone who opposed him. Now, however, hate seems to be in style. Dean insists that it isn't the backbone of his campaign, though, in this humorous exchange:

Dean responds negatively -- in fact, angrily -- to the suggestion that his campaign is driven by anger. "This campaign is not about anger. It's about hope," he said testily this weekend as he hopscotched from the heartland to Dixie to California in pursuit of caucus votes and contributions. And yet the "hope" he is offering, he told the crowds, is that "we can give George Bush a one-way bus ticket back to Crawford, Texas."

The problem for Dean will be translating true-believer-partisan hate into mainstream political support. But Dean's problem there is that Dean cannot keep his mouth shut, nor can he keep his politics consistent. The Carpetbagger Report noted in September the Top 10 Howard Dean flip-flops, about which I posted earlier. It will make little difference in the primaries -- perhaps -- but if anger is all Dean has in the general election while running on a record like this, be prepared for a massive Bush landslide, especially with a strong economy, job growth, a free Iraq, and Saddam behind bars or dead.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 15, 2003 12:19 PM

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