The Note

It's a hot July, and David Broder is writing about Howard Dean.

2003 Note Archives, updated weekly.

Click here for The ABCNEWS Political Unit's exclusive major futures calendar and today's daybook.

E-mail us: Tips, Compliments, Complaints and Questions.

Who we are ... And What We're About.


"The path was marked very clearly by Jimmy Carter, more than a quarter-century ago, and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) is following it scrupulously."

"Like former Georgia governor Carter in 1976, the physician-politician is challenging a group of better-known Washington insiders — and conventional wisdom — for the presidential nomination of his party."

Broder writes about Dean gaining traction by attacking his rivals for supporting "No Child Left Behind," for bragging about his record of fiscal discipline, and his touting of universal health care.

But (and we normally eschew the shaggy dog lead), Broder wrote all that on July 12, 2002, when Dean's progress was "measured mainly in the pile of business cards collected at every stop by Kate O'Connor, his gubernatorial aide and fellow-traveler."

Now, of course, Dean's progress can be measured in all sorts of ways, included the fact that he dominated the weekend's political coverage.

Most obviously, the print press was filled with Dean stories, and let's remind you what Broder's kicker was nearly one year ago today:

" … (W)hen the Des Moines Register headlined a small story about Dean's visit, 'Vermont governor blasts GOP drug plan,' Dean remarked, 'It will be a breakthrough for me when my name is well-enough known that they can use it in a headline.'"

Now, of course, using the word "Dean" in a headline is no big whoop, and trying to figure out what to do about Howard Dean is the quiet preoccupation of more than one Democratic presidential candidate.

This is fun, inside baseball for those of you (read: "us") looking for an interesting 2004 storyline (in 2003 … .), but the best American political coverage uses the ups and downs and twists and turns of every campaign to hold a mirror up to a still-young nation that happens to be the world's finest democracy.

Practicing and covering nomination politics are imperfect sciences, but you really can learn something about the mood of a party and — we are serious — about the mood of the nation, when an insurgent candidate does well.

We'd like to lock Congressman Gephardt and Senators Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman, and Graham in a windowless, un-air-conditioned classroom in Concord this afternoon and give them this pop quiz (not open book, and candidates only — no help from Elmo, Jer-dan, Baldick, the Campaign Director, or Jarding):

--List three lines from Howard Dean's stump speech that always get a big crowd reaction and explain why. (15 minutes)

--Write an essay explaining what Dean's surge says about what the party wants in its nominee, and what larger sentiments does his message reveal about the state of the American psyche right now? (45 minutes)

George Bush survived a 19-point loss to John McCain because he became a Reformer with Results and started doing town meetings, proving he could adapt to a different message and a different mode of operation (as in: "steal what worked from the guy who was doing well").

A year ago, after Broder wrote what was one of the first pieces that made it into the Dean clip packet, there was some speculation that the Doctor might have been peaking too early.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...