The debate among the Democrats tonight will be worth watching. This will be pivotal. Things have started shaking out in Iowa. Kerry, who was left for dead at the end of November, ended up beating Dean 2-1, and Edwards came in a close second. While I predicted the decline of Dean around early December (based in large measure on two unnataural acts he committed: he didnt think catching Saddam Hussein was a big deal, and he got Gore to endorse him, and then over the next few weeks got other establishment liberals to endorse him), I did not predict that Kerry would win. But he won big.
The candidate most disadvantaged in New Hampshire by the Kerry victory (aside from Gephardt, who dropped out, and Dean) is Wesley Clark because he seemed to make himself into the un-Dean candidate. But if Dean counts for less, so does Clark. Besides, Clark himself is similar to Dean in that he is full of contradictions, and in other respects seems less stable and or not trustworthy. Kerry and Edwards are doing well because they are steady and sure in their campaigning and (more or less) in the positions they take. Their political character is better. Where does this leave Lieberman? He will be to New Hampshire, what Dean was to Iowa. He will come in fifth (unless the bottom drops all the way out of Dean and Lieberman ends up coming in foruth)and will drop out of the race. Will Edwards be able to come in second or third? Not necessarily, but its possible. If he does, he will surely go all the way, after having won South Carolina. He could end up on the ticket, after all.
I believe that Dean commited political suicide with his screamning and yelling after the vote in Iowa. He revealed a man off balance. It scared folks. That fear will follow him to New Hampshire. Now, it is possible that an excellent performance by Dean in the debate tonight might help him re-group, but I doubt he can do it. People now think they have seen his true self and they dont like it. But see Hugh Hewitts (under January 21st) serious suggestions on how Dean might overcome his problem. Watch the debate tonight.