Thursday, January 08, 2004
I want to like Howard Dean. I don't mean I want to support him; I mean I want to like him, or find him admirable even if I don't agree with him. I want the Democratic Party to have a strong nominee this year, for several reasons. One is that it is one of our two great parties, and it is dispiriting to think it is not able to summon up a deeply impressive contender. Another is that democracy is best served by excellent presidential nominees duking it out region to region in a hard-fought campaign that seriously raises the pressing issues of the day. A third is that the Republican Party is never at its best when faced with a lame challenger. When faced with a tough and scrappy competitor like Bill Clinton, they came up with the Contract with America. When faced with Michael Dukakis they came up with flag-burning amendments. They need to be in a serious fight before they fight seriously.
I'm not sure which is more intriguing--the notion that Peggy Noonan might actually believe this crap, or the belief on her part that people will take this brand of smug, patronizing, self-congratulatory drivel at face value.
But commentary like this (Jonah Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan have penned similar columns) also points to something else: People like Noonan don't get--or don't want us to know that they get--the Dean phenomenon.
Look--I'm not about to predict a Dean victory in November. I'm not even ready to say the election will be close. But what is clear to me is that anyone willing to write him off this early doesn't have a firm grasp on the 2004 electoral landscape.
And that's good news for Democrats.