How did Howard Dean become the early front-runner in the first place?

Thomas Sowell:

...

"Howard Dean came out of nowhere, as the former governor of a state with a smaller population than some cities, and shot to the front with smug, glib, and irresponsible statements about a war that is still going on, not only in Iraq but around the world, in an age of nuclear proliferation. Strident leftist rhetoric was enough to propel him to the front of the pack with Democratic primary voters.

"Senator Kerry caught up and overtook Dean largely by doing the same thing, but without the gaffes that revealed Dean's immaturity.

"The prevalence of image over reality was painfully apparent in the fact that Governor Dean, who never governed as many people as a mayor of Houston or Phoenix, was considered qualified to be President of the United States in a time of deadly national peril.

...

"Senator John Kerry is not only in the classic liberal tradition, he got to the front of the pack by being on all sides of the issue of war in Iraq. He voted for the war but then voted against the money needed to deal with the consequences of the war.

"He did not win by showing leadership but by following the rhetoric of Howard Dean while maintaining more of an air of dignity -- but only an air.

"Perhaps most ominously of all, Senator Kerry followed the liberal practice of playing the race card. When President Bush appointed Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Kerry denounced Judge Pickering as an advocate for a cross-burner.

"In reality, the man whose sentence Judge Pickering considered excessive had not burned any crosses. That is precisely why Judge Pickering thought he should not have received a longer sentence than a man who did, when the one who was punished more severely had driven the car that the cross burner traveled in.

"What makes Senator Kerry's race card truly despicable is that Judge Pickering not only fought against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, back when it was dangerous to do so, he sent his own child to a newly integrated school with black children -- which is more than most liberal politicians will do, even today."

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