You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Dean Shrugged

It looks like Howard Dean is going to work for CNBC. I guess the hire is supposed to buy the network a little cover on its left flank. But I don't know how Dean is going to fit in with all those Randians over there. As Dean recently told the Boston Globe's Sasha Issenberg:

"Everybody likes to think they did it all by themselves," Dean said in an interview. "I don't believe in the great-man theory of history. You really have to see change as a continuum. It doesn't come in packets, it comes in waves."

Dean was talking about the Obama campaign when he said that, but I think it might explain a lot about why his own campaign foundered. I mean, can you really successfully run for president and not be a believer in the great-man theory? Even if you recognize that greater forces are at work, don't you still have to believe that you are uniquely suited to harness and direct them?

It seems like one of the key differences between Dean and Obama was that, while both sparked mass movements, Obama never really let the movement get bigger than him. Or, put another way, he retained the power to direct it. Dean never really had that. When he talked about being "people-powered," he really was. There was something accidental about his ascension. That hasn't been the case with Obama.

That said, listening to Obama talk about the bad hand he's been dealt, you get the sense he's starting to become a doubter in the great-man theory, too.

--Jason Zengerle