A few months ago, in the aftermath of Gulf War II, I opined that the Democratic nomination would come down to a fight between Howard Dean and John Kerry. I stated that Kerry would do well to sieze the moment and attack Dean mercilessly:
This is one moment — a brief one — when pro-war candidates can bask in the military victory in Iraq before Bush’s atrocious postwar planning and economic issues begin to userp the headlines. Kerry would do well to drive home the point Joe Leiberman made during the debate: “No democrat will be elected in 2004 who isn’t strong on national defense, and this war was a test of that.”
The contest is over, and the winner isn’t John Kerry. You see, Kerry could have gained new life by challenging Dean head-on, but he left that work to Joe Lieberman, instead running a listless, uninspired campaign that has left him in a steady decline.
There is but one frontrunner now, and that person is Howard Dean. You can forget the headlines for the next four months; even if some explosive allegation were to emerge in, say, November, it is difficult to see any other candidate surging ahead. It has become clear that Dean is by far a better campaigner (and therefore a better nominee) than any of the other eight candidates. If the current field remains static, the nomination will be his.