March 24, 2004
A Dean Post-Mortem Worth Reading
We haven’t heard the last of the final analyses of Dean’s rise and fall, I’m sure, but we’ve probably gotten the last of the ones you should read, if you’re interested in what happened. This is an early-bird edition of an article that will be in May’s Atlantic Monthly, and it’s written by Dean’s own pollster, Paul Maslin.
Maslin writes clearly and evocatively. He takes you through the excitement and the drama of a campaign as well as any journalist I’ve seen. There’s strong foreshadowing, fleshy, warm characters with real flaws, vivid dialogue, structure, you name it.
And what does the article say? Everything that our newspapers probably don’t have enough time or access to present: that there was no single, simple reason for Dean’s rise and fall. Any campaign is a walk along a greased tightrope, a constant play of gambles and negotiations. Dean’s campaign especially was a movement with dense variables swinging every which way — his Internet base, his volatile campaign manager, the other candidates, Dean himself.
The next thing I’m looking for is Howard Dean’s own account of the experience, but I won’t hold my breath. Although he speaks his mind constantly, he seems to withhold his feelings. And if his article in Vanity Fair was any indication, he’s not much of an absorbing writer. But what a character.