Features

The Dean scream

Elections

Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

A year ago this time, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was widely expected to be the Democratic champion who would drive George W. Bush from the White House. But despite energizing the party's pro-labor, anti-war base and using the internet to raise a record $50 million, in Iowa his political dreams came to a screeching-or screaming-halt.

After losing to both John Kerry and John Edwards in the Iowa caucuses, the former front-runner sought to rally his troops with a stem-winding speech. "Not only are we going to New Hampshire," he said, "we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! And we're going to California and Texas and New York! And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan! And then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeeeaaarrrrgghhhh!"

It was that final, primal, unspellable release of pent-up energy and frustration that doomed Mr. Dean's apparent lock on the nomination. Replayed on television more than 900 times, the scream gelled his image as a loose cannon not yet ready for prime time. On Feb. 18 he folded his campaign, completing one of the most spectacular implosions in American political history.

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So where is he now? Still trying to rehabilitate his image, and still trying to push the Democrats to the left. Despite widespread calls for more centrist leaders after the party's disastrous showing in November, Mr. Dean is now exploring a run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

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