Crumlish to Kerry: Do the right thing

· long story short

First, some disclosure: I support Howard Dean for President, have donated to his campaign, and am supporting him as an unpaid grassroots volunteer. I am obviously biased. However, I have resisted and still resist the whole stampede to Dean’s aura of inevitably.
Yes, he does seem to have finessed the whole field. He has won the money primary in which very wealthy interests get to do an initial weeding process and designate frontrunners by divining a philsophical humor known as “electability.”
He is currently making his way through the “character” primary, in which the media takes its own stab at winnowing the field, floating a sequence of damaging or potentially unpopular revelations about leading candidates, as a kind of unofficial test of how each handles adversity.
Dean can be awkward and doesn’t respond well to criticism, but he seems to be talking around the media, much as some earlier Teflon presidents have done, and rising above each successive “gaffe” (confederate flag) and “vulnerability” (opted to be a ski bum instead of going to Nam).
The media means well (kinda), and this gantlet can inoculate a successful candidate against the risk of the same damaging stories coming out late in a campaign, but risks weakening the candidate as wel if the stories return in the hands of their opponents and manage to stick
So, Dean is not a sure thing, but he is winning right now. He is leading in Iowa and is considered dead sure to finish at least second there, a state that was intended to be a Gephardt stronghold.
He has a strong lead in New Hampshire, and – along with Clark – is taking all the air out of Kerry’s campaign. Democrats worry about nominating a New Englander but they worry more about nominating a politician from Massachusetts who seems out of touch with ordinary people.
Gephardt seems to have toughened up and can still make the case for a hawkish midwestern strategy, but the wind is against him among the primary electorate.
Edwards has been a stealth candidate thus far, but may play a role in South Carolina. At this point I’d say he’s running against Graham for vice president. (Interesting to note that Graham’s daughter just joined the Dean campaign.)
Clark seems to be the great white hope for a pro-military campaign. Dean ought to be harping on the shabby treatment the veteran’s are getting, not to mention this war’s dead and wounded. My father is a military man and though he was initially impressed with Rumsfeld’s apparent candor and poise, he is now worried that the Pentagon is screwing over the men in the field once again.
The show’s not over yet, but if Dean takes Iowa and New Hampshire and performs adequately in South Carolina, he will be very tough to beat. His grassroots campaigners, I can attest, are in a fighting mood. His official campaigners have their eyes on the prize.
Any of the Democrats could still surprise us, but it is looking more and more likely that Kerry can’t win. Pretty soon, for the good of the party, Kerry should drop out and close ranks with the eventual nominee.
I don’t know how to convince him to do this. I’m sure he is getting an analysis very different from mine. So I’ll just start the chorus now:
John Kerry, your record as a warrior, a peace activist, and a senator are impressive. You are clearly a man of high intelligence, nuance, style, and wit. Your many qualities suggest that you would make a good president, but this is not your year. Give Gephardt and Clark a clear shot at Dean and minimize the amount of unnecessary flak the eventual winner will receive.
If the handwriting is really on the wall, don’t drag things out needlessly. Please withdraw from the race.