Rebellion Among the Rebels


Doug Ireland has succinctly stated something I've been trying to put into the right words for a while: "The Dean movement was always more interesting than its candidate." In this it resembles the grassroots campaigns that assembled themselves behind men as different as Jesse Jackson and Pat Buchanan: It's a force far more populist than its standard-bearer, and one much more rambunctious than presidential politics ordinarily allows. It's the movement more than the man that has prompted the establishment's condescending meme of the hour—that by leaving Dean behind, the Democrats are "finally" turning to "the grown-ups."

Now that movement may be rebelling against its titular leader, as a post-Iowa anger seeps into Dean's camp. (And Kucinich's, too. Writes Ireland: "Dennis Kucinich, who ran as the 'principled' candidate of a 'new politics' similarly betrayed those idealists who had given his protest candidacy unexpected millions of dollars when he cut an 'old politics' last-minute caucus deal asking his supporters to vote for John Edwards.") I think Ireland might be writing off Dean too soon, but the resentment he's describing within the candidate's ground troops is very real.

Real enough to be fatal? Stay tuned for New Hampshire.