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Who Sabotaged Howard Dean's Campaign?
Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Tonight in Columbia, I stopped by MacGregor's restaurant for a Howard Dean "Meetup" -- a gathering of Dean supporters on the first Wednesday of every month.
The meeting had special significance for me because I began my road trip with a "Meetup" in January.
What a difference a month makes!
At the January Meetup, letters were written. Committees were formed. Deaniacs were part of an historic campaign that needed their help.
This month, no serious business was ever addressed. Friends chatted in small groups, mainly about what had gone wrong. Attendance was at one-third last month's level. The Dean campaign seemed a thing of the past.
The Dean supporters I met absolutely refuse to blame Howard Dean for the campaign's collapse. Blame was instead placed on various other culprits, including the media, the campaign staff, the other candidates, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, George Bush, and a combination of "dirty tricks" and "sabotage" from most of the above.
Margaret told me, "I think it was the media, really. I don't think it had anything to do with Howard Dean, because he didn't change."
Glenn said, "The news media hated this guy. They wanted a long primary."
At the Meetup, efforts at optimism are strained.
"We're not dead in the water."
"We came in third in New Mexico!"
"Dean has changed politics forever."
The most disappointed man at the Meetup was Glenn Dody. In the past year, Dody gave the Dean campaign 1,200 volunteer hours and one-sixth of his modest annual income, in donations and expenses. "I fought the battle here, and I failed," said Dody. "I didn't know enough, didn't do enough."
Dody called John Kerry "a worm" and "a scum bag" who is merely "another player in the same game that sunk this country into where it is now." Dean is "an honest candidate not bought off by special interests."
I wanted to tell Dody that Dean's collapse had little to do with a "united front" attacking him and nothing to do with Dody not doing "enough."
I wanted to tell Dody that Dean sabotaged his own campaign with a loose temper and a glib mouth.
I wanted Glenn Dody to know that Howard Dean owes him, and thousands like him, an apology.
Next stop: Tennessee
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