Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Waiting for the Kerry Bubble to Burst -- Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. (from today's Political Diary):
The Securities and Exchange Commission might want to look into Howard Dean's fundraising. Last week he solicited money from his Internet fans saying if he didn't win the Wisconsin primary on Feb. 17, he'd be out of the race. Now he's saying he staying in no matter what. For that matter, John Edwards has been talking down expectations of his own performance in today's Virginia and Tennessee contests after weeks of saying his big claim to consideration was his ability to win in the south. As putative grown-ups, both men had once sought to distinguish themselves from candidates who hang around the race for the free publicity even after the electorate has clearly settled on somebody else. Not anymore. What's going on?

Perhaps they're addicted to the limelight, but both have also become bolder about predicting that sometime before Super Tuesday, when megastates like California and New York vote in early March, the Kerry bubble will burst. When that happens, disenchanted Democrats will be desperate for a second look at other candidates. "Frankly, I've said before I don't think Senator Kerry's been vetted in the same way I was vetted when I was the front-runner. I think that's a necessary process because we've got to make sure our nominee is the strongest possible nominee," Howard Dean told reporters yesterday. Mr. Edwards, in a separate TV interview, echoed the sentiment: "You don't know what's going to happen a month, three months, six months from now."

Messrs. Dean and Edwards have a point. Mr. Kerry has ascended to front-runner status by almost immaculate means. The great economist John Maynard Keynes once described a speculative bubble as being the result of investors "trying to forecast the psychology of other investors." Mr. Kerry looks suspiciously like the product of an electability bubble. The big question for Democrats is whether the bubble will pop before or after he's locked up the nomination.

Great point. The problem is, as it seems to me, and this passage seems to support, Dean and Edwards are both just sitting back and hoping the Kerry bubble will burst. Without an actual reason, I can't see why that would happen when he's so far out in front. If they want to overtake him, they need to attack.

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