From this weekend's NYT magazine: "People at all levels of the Dean campaign will tell you that its purpose is not just to elect Howard Dean president. Just as significant, they say, the point is to give people something to believe in, and to connect those people to one another." There should be some kind of political theorem, at least once you get past primaries: to whatever extent a campaign sees itself as having purposes other than winning the election, the less likely it is to actually win the election.
A different thing is that, while I'm not necessarily opposed to the Dean candidacy, I'm surprised at how many people who profess left ideals are not more skeptical about the desirability of a political movement centered on quasi-idolizing of a political figure whose chief selling point seems to be his charisma (and that he opposed the war, although I think it's hard to look at the chronology of his stances on the war and not see his opposition as partly, if not primarily, a strategic position). One of the remarkable things if you read remarks from Dean supporters about why they like Dean, a common theme is that they are perhaps not so much smitten by the particulars of what he says as the way in which he says it. Doesn't history provide more than its share of reasons to find that kind of politically attachment disconcerting?