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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Dean knifed in Iowa

Have you ever been to a political conference? I have, it was the NUS conference of 1995 or 6, I forget. Anyway as some folks are all too aware there are few places more viscious than the political arena. It's populated by cold and ruthless men who have learned that a smile is something you put on in the morning. That conference, in '96 was about the death of the student ultra left (communists and co) and the ascension of new labour. In some small way I was putting the boot in for the moderates. I was idealistic about it too, damn militants.

So Dean has lost Iowa. He lost for a bunch of reasons, but he didn't lose by as much as people think, and he was the victim of his own negative campaigning. See Dean killed Gephardt, killed him stone dead, but in any system that has second preference voting the dead get a second chance and they can use it to drag you down with them. That it seems is what Gephardt did, the observers blogging at Daily Kos report that Gephardts' followers stonewalled Dean supporters as soon as they saw their man on the ropes and decided to use their second life to bury the man who killed them. Its viscious, but its predictable, but only Dick Gephardt and his friends won't have been surprised by it.

Meanwhile the Kerry and Edwards folks both thought they were drowning, fighting for survival, so when they knew they were in trouble in a given caucus they did the only thing that made sense to them and helped the other drowning man swim to safety. Result, well you can read about it in the papers.

Deans' ultra smart organisation seems to have not thought hard enough or long enough about the game, the rules within which this stuff gets settled. A while ago they started 'using the hill' pushing down on candidates behind them. They should have realised that when you push someone you give him a chance to grab hold and take you down with him.

So Dean has been knifed and his nascent campaign have been given a much needed baptism of fire. If they survive and win this will have done them a lot of good. If they don't well, politics has always been a bloodsport and I guess I'll have to find another fox to support.

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