Transcription – Walter Shapiro Interview

Q:              You know, before we leave Dean, your old boss, Charlie Peters used to talk about and write about the Winter Palace syndrome.  People in Washington pass laws, and like the czar and czarina in the Winter Palace, think that the world is changing.  A governor like Dean, you point out in your book, kind of saw how No Child Left Behind was working at the grassroots.  Knew that at the grassroots, gun control was a losing issue, in most parts of the country, for a Democrat.  Were there — but he was the only governor in the race, after a period in which governors had won every election but one since Carter in ’76.  Did the Democrats suffer, for not having a richer pool of contenders, whose experience was outside the Winter Palace, so to speak?

SHAPIRO:   [01:03:00] I’m not sure — I mean, it’s…  It’s real hard, because 2004 was the election of the Iraq War.  And to my mind — I’m skipping ahead a little.  The emblematic voter in 2004, the voter that explains the entire election to me, was a woman I met at a debate party, put on — she worked as a nurse in a large-practice medical office in Des Moines.  And I had arranged to go to, after, I think the vice presidential debate in 2004, after Edwards somehow managed to lose to Dick Cheney, which is still one of the great facts of our time, the great trial lawyer losing to the most unappealing man at the upper echelons of American politics in the last half-century.  But [01:04:00] the point was, I remember her saying that she was a 30-year-old nurse, working in — and she said, “I really like John Kerry’s medical plan.  I like John Kerry personally.  I have a 10-year-old son, and I’m really worried about him going to war.  And I don’t think we should change presidents in the middle of a war.”  She voted for Bush.

Bush, by the way, I believe, carried Iowa by 4,000 votes.  And while it wasn’t pivotal the way Ohio was, that whole idea, that this was an election about Iraq, but Iraq cut both ways.  It cut both the anti-Iraq passions on the part of most of the Democratic Party.  But it also, coming three years after 9/11, it also spoke to a lot of very nervous citizens, saying, “We can’t [01:05:00] change presidents in the middle of a war.”  So, against that backdrop — and this is the longest answer possible — I don’t think a governor necessarily would have fit into that model in 2004, the way governors fit into 1992, 1980.

Q:              Two thousand.

SHAPIRO:   Two thousand — yes.