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Saturday, May 24, 2003

2004 Ain't 1984-Ben links to a David Yepsen piece on the 2004 Democratic field, trying to make them into 1984's field. His casting of Gephardt as Mondale is problematic on two counts. Mondale was Carter's VP, which gave him heir-apparent credentials; Gephardt doesn't have that emotional clout. With Gore out of the race, the closest analogy would be to Lieberman, the wronged VP candidate from 2000. Lieberman isn't the favorite of liberals, so Lieberman as Mondale falls flat real quick. The second problem is that the Mondale role is split in two between Gephardt and Kerry, with Gephardt being the institutional backer of labor and Kerry being the backer of the rest of the institutional left. Between the two of them, they've got Mondale's niche. We also don't have a good Gary Hart, the young outsider who challenges the interest-group status-quo. (Full disclosure-I was still a Democrat in 1984 [a youthful indiscretion] and voted for Hart in the Michigan caucus that year.) Yepsen wants to cast John Edwards in that role, who fits the young outsider part but whom caters to the same liberal groups as Gephardt and Kerry. As squirrelly as it sounds, Howard Dean makes a better Gary Hart than a Alan Cranston. This is an unique race, with five guys who could easily get the nomination, none of whom have a visible plurality of the party behind them. It's not 1984 redux.

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