Sunday, January 11, 2004

When George Will is good... 

...he is really very good. He warns Republicans not to take too much comfort from the Dukakis precedent, however appealing the analogies to Dean may appear:

"Yet in spite of all his misadventures, Dukakis, a chilly vessel of New England's starchy, hectoring liberalism, running in a conservative decade and in an unpromising year against Republican peace (the Soviet Union was crumbling) and prosperity (the unemployment rate was 5.5, the economy's growth rate was a robust 4.1), convinced 41,809,074 Americans. Sixteen years later—and four years after an essentially tied election—there is a polarizing president who may have made the undecided "swing" voter an endangered species. How confident can Republicans really be that Dean or any other Democrat cannot conceivably get 4.4 percent more of the popular vote than Dukakis got?"

While I am not sure I agree that New England's liberalism is particularly starchy or hectoring (Tip O'Neil was a lot of things, but he definitely wasn't starchy), Dukakis was certainly a chilly vessel. Still, Will's point is an excellent one -- notwithstanding the worst campaign in memory, Dukakis got more than 45% of the votes. Aren't Dean or Clark likely to do better, under the circumstances? Read the whole thing.

Will also takes a sarcastic swipe at the relevance of Iowa (it hurts TigerHawk -- a loyal naturalized son of the Hawkeye State -- to republish it here):

"The night Dukakis finished third in Iowa's Democratic caucuses (behind Dick Gephardt and Illinois Sen. Paul Simon—perhaps Dukakis's endive idea needed tweaking), Robertson finished second to Bob Dole in the Republican caucuses. He handily beat Vice President George Bush, who 10 months later became the slayer of Dukakis. Which gives you some idea of just how important next Monday's Iowa caucuses might be."

It almost sounds like George Will agrees with Howard Dean!


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