Iowa vignette about Dean and Edwards
Tuesday, January 20th, 2004
The best reporting I’ve seen yet on Iowa comes in a Daily Kos post. Here’s a telling vingette about how Dean’s troops mishandled one caucus:
the Dean precinct captain on the floor was ineffective and diffident. I watched with amazement as a more-motivated, more-mature Edwards captain named Susan Voss (sans T-shirt, sans sideline coaches) went over to the Gephardt folks in Precinct 63, who at that point had only seven members but needed nine for viability. Susan sat down at their table, looked them in the eye, appealed to them about how Edwards is an “articulate, bright, caring person.” You can tell not only that she meant it, but that she could personalize it. She didn’t have any training, and it showed – it showed as authentic, that is.
Then, with grace and aplomb, she got up and said she would make room so a guy named Arturo, from the Kucinich group (also non-viable, and hoping to move Gephardt’s people to them to achieve viability), could have his turn.
Meanwhile, the Deanies are sitting with their hands folded. They are not even talking to each other. No comity, no motivation. The precinct captain eventually comes over, unsure of what precisely to do with himself or how to speak to people. The Geppies are still sitting at the school library’s tables at the far end of the room.
The Dean captain meanders over, stands over the Geppies, providing physical distance that is conveyed in a non-verbally and dismissive way. Worse, his main message is little more than, “C’mon, don’t you want to join us?” or “Are there any questions or issues you have about the Governor?” The Geppies are literally staring at his navel, because it’s hard to make eye contact with somebody whose head is three feet over your own with craning your neck.
There were six delegates to be assigned by the 60+ people who turned out at Precinct 63. Dean had 16 of the caucus-goers at the start, and ended up with 14. Kerry didn’t budge much, but Edwards gained strength. Gephardt managed to cobble together the two defections from Kucinich he needed, and got one delegate, as did Dean and Kerry. But Edwards left with two, and he can thank the dynamism, assertiveness and tact of Susan Voss for that second delegate.