Bill Safire reports that the Clintons fear that Howard Dean could steal their party from them:
Clintonites were first to take the Dean threat seriously. As reported gleefully in this space (full disclosure: I’m rooting for Dean’s candidacy in hopes of the debacle), the Clinton crowd surrounded ex-Gen. Wesley Clark with Clinton managers, spinmeisters, pollsters and fund-raisers and marched him into battle against Dean.
The Clinton political strategy was, as usual, astute: let Dick Gephardt slow Dean down in Iowa, then push Clark hard enough to upset Dean in New Hampshire, or at least attract enough of the isolationist vote from Dean to let John Kerry squeak through.
The Kennedy wing, he goes on, shares the fear:
So the Kennedy Left moved in to resuscitate John Kerry’s campaign. Kerry is a war hero who led Vietnam Vets Against the War and has long been a Kennedy Senate ally. Some liberals believe he expunged his sin of having voted for this year’s resolution to overthrow Saddam by recently joining Kennedy in voting against paying for it.
The Kennedyization of the Kerry campaign was carried out by Jeanne Shaheen, the former New Hampshire governor. She prevailed on the candidate to fire his longtime manager, Jim Jordan, and replace him with Mary Beth Cahill, Ted Kennedy’s chief of staff. Cahill has impeccable far-left credentials, from Emily’s List fund-raising to Representative Barney Frank’s staff. She is an ideological soulmate of the superb writer and Kennedy Boston braintruster Robert Shrum, who has been battling Jordan to yank Kerry’s moderate position over to the demonstrative dovecote.
I have an honest question for Clinton and Kennedy fans: Why wouldn’t you want Dean to shake up the Democratic party? Sure, change hurts — but any more of the status quo and there won’t be a party in 10 years. Already, the South is lost, the Rocky Mountain west and rural midwest are, too, and you’re decreasingly competitive in the industrial midwest. Do you really want to be a party of the West Coast and bits of the northeast?
So shake things up before the party is over.