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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, November 8, 2003

The one to beat.

In the race to be the presidential standard-bearer for the Democrats in next year's US elections, Howard Dean is increasingly shaping the parameters of the contest. According to the NY Times, Dean's recent union endorsements and his decision not to accept federal campaign funding (thus avoiding federal campaign spending limits) are forcing the other Democratic hopefuls to adjust their campaigns in hopes of becoming the 'anti-Dean.'

But even Democrats who said they welcomed a one-on-one fight with Dr. Dean said they were impressed with his performance in recent days.

After two days in which he seemed to be staggering under the weight of attacks by opponents for his remark about the Confederate flag, Dr. Dean apologized and was buoyed by the announcement that he had won the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, which has a heavy representation of black members.

His endorsement by the public employees union was a surprise from a union that had made clear it was looking first and foremost for a winner. That endorsement startled his rivals and went a long distance to rebutting what had been one of the major reservations from Democrats about him: his ability to be a serious general election candidate.

Increasingly, Dr. Dean's strength is evident not only in early polls, but on the ground in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. At 11:30 the other night at Dr. Dean's New Hampshire headquarters in Manchester, the lights were on and the office was buzzing with paid aides and volunteers. A block away, at Mr. Kerry's headquarters, the lights were dark.

When Dr. Dean turned up for a town hall meeting on Thursday night in Nashua, in the midst of the furor over his Confederate flag remark, so many people turned up that many parked their cars at the Nashua Airport, a half mile away. Dr. Dean drew at least four standing ovations in the course of his presentation, a wild reception that left little doubt about the intensity of enthusiasm among supporters that has led many Democrats to view him as such a potent candidate.

"Most of our friends jumped on the Dean bandwagon months ago," said Susan Katzenberg, a homemaker from Amherst who turned out to hear Dr. Dean that night. "They are going to be very hard to sway."


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