A McGovern in the making?

For those of us with a serious interest in defeating George W. Bush next year, John Judis at points to some more problems with Howard Dean’s candidacy for president. (You can read the article for free by clicking the Daypass option).

He notes that Dean’s appeal so far has been almost entirely to white middle-class professionals– people who tend to be socially liberal but fiscally moderate or conservative. Dean’s campaign doesn’t exclude working-class and minority Democrats, but his campaign– based largely on the Internet– isn’t exactly reaching out to them.

And as Judis says, in a matchup against Bush next year, “a candidate like Dean will have to spend a vital part of his campaign defending his credentials on homeland security and the war against terror rather than attacking Bush’s economic program.”

Judis finds in Dean’s campaign some uncomfortable echoes of George McGovern’s disastrous 1972 challenge of Richard Nixon. McGovern– a decorated bomber pilot in World War II– was never able to shake the perception among many voters that he was “weak on defense.” And he lost 49 of 50 states.

Can Bush be beaten in 2004? I think he can. But is Howard Dean the one who can do it? I don’t see how.