The Dean campaign had a true air of revolution about it. There was the feisty and original candidate, the daring and brooding campaign manager, the young and eager volunteers, the committed grassroots network, and all those under-$100 checks that kept pouring in and breaking records. But after Dean's spectacular collapse, beginning with his loss in Iowa and the "I have a scream" concession speech, it was hard not to question how everything could have fallen apart so quickly. Was the revolution for real?
According to Paul Maslin, Dean's political pollster, it was for real. For Maslin, that revolution—and all the changes wrought by it in the American political scene—is the legacy of the Dean campaign. In "The Front-Runner's Fall" in the May 2004 Atlantic, Maslin tells the inside story of the Dean campaign—shedding new light on its failures and its successes
Dean's willingness to confront George Bush, attack the Democratic Party, and oppose the Iraq war drew voters to him. That boldness, however, was also accompanied by Dean's "erratic judgment, loose tongue, and overall stubbornness," as well as his refusal to "to be scripted, to be disciplined, or to discipline himself." Maslin writes that the campaign
"desperately needed an 'adult' . . . to help provide some stability around him, or simply to take him to the woodshed when he did screw up, to reduce the chances of its happening again. Such a person didn't exist in Howard Dean's personal orbit and the campaign never found one to do the job."
In the end, it seems clear that the very qualities that were attractive about Dean were some of the things that brought about his defeat in the Iowa primary. Dean was, in some ways, too "real."