A couple thoughts on the Iowa caucuses, a topic on which much ink (real and virtual) has and no doubt and will be spilled:
As someone who, despite significant reservations, believes Dean would be the best of the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination, I was disappointed to see him come in third. As someone who believes with great conviction in the organizing model that Dean has employed, I was disappointed to see that it was not enough to win him the Caucus. That does little to take away from the tremendous progress the Dean campaign has made and the ways it which it’s destabilized some of the unfortunate Clintonian paradigms of building power in the Democratic party. I’d also argue that losing Iowa does less than many think to hurt Dean’s chances of seizing the endorsement. One of the ways the press has hurt Dean over the past months, besides applying a level of cynicism and scrutiny to him denied in coverage of, say, the sitting President, is by raising the bar for his importance impossibly high. It’ll be interesting to see whether Dean is as effective as Clinton at seizing on and drawing momentum from underdog status. Some have argued that losing Iowa is better for Dean because it leaves several “anti-Dean” candidates in the running going into New Hampshire and stymies efforts to coalesce behind one Dean alternative – I guess we’ll see how that plays out as well.
It’ll be interesting to see what Kerry makes of the new attention and the new media narrative offered to him. Specifically, I wonder to what he and his staff attribute his late surge. The role he takes over the next weeks may hint at who it is they he thinks is propelling his rebirth as a candidate.
Looks like the zenith of Dick Gephardt’s political career has passed. The interesting story here may be his failure to marshall stronger support from the labor movement – instead of garnering the endorsement by the AFL-CIO as a body some expected, he saw the two largest unions in the body go to Dean. I think the Cold War AFL-CIO (there’s a reason they used to call it the AFL-CIA) model suggested to some by his support for the war in Iraq, and the tension it created, speaks to shifts in the American labor movement.