The media are on a roll, acting like Dean's disappointing performance in Iowa, combined with his post-caucus shouting, means that Dean is dead politically. Which, naturally, is total bullshit. Nobody expects Iowa to indicate more than the general viability of a candidate--in other words, if you place third in Iowa, historically speaking, you still have a good chance of winning the endorsements of the party. But I don't think that's what people are reacting to, so much, as the notion of Dean being angry.
I saw the footage of Dean's concession speech, like many people. Unlike most, however, I did not see a man who was angry or unhinged.
I saw what many high-schoolers, especially in states where football is a major part of the culture, often see--a pep rally with a coach exuberently rallying the troops after a disappointing loss, reminding them that greater things, perhaps Greatness Itself, lie ahead, if only they stay the path. Nothing shocking there to me. In fact, it reminded me so much of home that I started reminiscing.
I grew up in Mesquite, Texas, and my high school's football team never really seemed to have potential. There were talented players, but no real cohesion or driving spirit helped make them into a true team, capable of surmounting to much.
We then had a change of coaches--and compared to the gentle, softly spoken, humble man that came before, the new coach seemed angry much of the time, and excitable when not angry. His calm moments were rare. Some wondered if replacing coaches was a mistake. And yet, this new coach brought to my senior year a football team, and that one year, we went to the biggest losers in the district to being in the top three, and played in the playoffs for a few games before being defeated. The year after graduations, not only did that same football team make the playoffs, but also soundly defeated our rivals in a spetacular fashion.
Now, it's awfully odd of me to use football as a metaphor for politics. I'm not Hunter S. Thompson, after all--I don't need to live a tenth the kind of life he has. Nor am I generally interested in sports, although if I won free women's basketball tickets I'd probably see the game. But that's the dyke in me.
But my point, simply put, is that Dean should not be written off just yet. He may prove to be exactly what the Democratic Party--and the United States by extension--truly needs. I'd certainly prefer an animated, emotional President over one who blandly smiles from underneath his coif, robotically acting as his advisors recommend. And Dubya is hardly the only Presidential candidate acting so.
"But, anger is not a sustainable means to get elected," some protest. And I agree. Then again, who says Dean will always be the anger candidate? Many other candidates have modified their approach after using an initial burst of outrage to turn from dark horses to contenders. Andrew Jackson is but one person from American history that comes to mind; I recommend you read how he went from being a soldier to an angry reform candidate to President fairly carefully. (But don't presume that Dean's politics will match Jackson's, either!)
I could write more, but I have other tasks that need attending. But I'm sure you haven't heard the last from me on this subject. Brace yourselves.