Jonathan Chait

Revisiting The 2004 Democratic Presidential Field

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My post from a couple days ago, about how my instincts about Howard Dean from 2004 have been vindicated, made me think of something: Just how awful was the 2004 Democratic primary field? Go through the list, and try to imagine any of these men as a presidential nominee, let alone (shudder) a president:

Howard Dean, who's been spending the last year on and off trying to kill health care reform.

Dick Gephardt, who's now a corporate whore.

John Edwards, who's, well, John Edwards.

Wes Clark, last seen insisting that "New York money people" were pushing for war with Iran.

Dennis Kucinich, also trying to kill health care reform.

Joe Lieberman:

and, of course, Al Sharpton.

At the time, I was disappointed that Kerry prevailed. And it's certainly true that Kerry lacked the communications skills to be a presidential nominee. But compared to that field, he was a giant. He's the only candidate you can imagine actually serving as president without bringing about some enormous disaster. And he's handled himself pretty well since losing the race. Indeed, the only other 2004 candidate who's actually raised his stature among Democrats is Sharpton.

Update: Jonathan Bernstein got there first.

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