It shouldn’t surprise you that I find the primary battle among Democrats especially fascinating during this cycle. It also shouldn’t surprise you that even though I sometimes pontificate on it all, I don’t really know what is going on. But I’m trying to understand. I am. A couple of thoughts. Clinton moves the party back towards the center, becoming the first Demo president to be re-elected since FDR. Quite an accomplishment, albeit marred by scandal (but that’s another story). His VP, also instrumental in moving the party back toward the center, loses the election in a close one; no one has been elected president while losing his home state. The Demos come to especially hate Bush, and unnaturally stay focused on the close outcome in Florida. September 11 happens, everything is affected. But the Demos don’t see this as a monumental event. They lose ground in 2002. Gore shifts left, and others do the same (not yet Lieberman and Gephardt) especially after the Iraq war. The economy is made into an issue, and then dropped over time because it proved ineffective. The emphasis on the Iraq gambit forces them into harping criticisms from WMD issues to multilateralism, all the while trying to de-authorize Bush who is now turned into a knave and a liar. Howard Dean is like a lazer-beam on these matters, and no one else gets traction. Wesley Clark becomes the great hope, surrounded by Clintonistas, but he quickly stumbles many times. All the while Hillary dominates the polls, but will not run and everyone knows that she is setting up for 2008. What energy remains in the party goes toward Dean. He prospers--despite his misstatements and and missteps--and all the others stumble. It is now said that no one can stop this angry man. And he now says that if the nomination is taken from him, he will make the Democratic Party pay. What this means is that there is no Democratic Party. Dean is right, he is in the process of creating a new one, and, should he fail, then Hillary will create one in her own image: moderate, thoughtful, and, shimmering with a celebrity-like quality. And, it so happens, she is married to a rock star who, at every appearance, can raise ten times the amount of money that Howard Dean can. So, as a Republican, I don’t worry about 2004, but I am concerned with 2008. In the meantime, I observe the crippling of the oldest political party in the U.S. If Dean becomes the nomineee he will lose by fifteen points and the Demos will lose at least five seats in the Senate and somewhere between five and ten seats in the House. Even Hillary will have a tough time rebuilding that shell that used to be called a great political party.