The New Yorker has a piece in this weeks edition, that has a review of the campaign by PHILIP GOUREVITCH.
He makes the usual media case for why Dean lost, his mis-steps.
Here's the quote:
"At the peak of his popularity, in December and early January, Dean made a series of missteps and intemperate or impolitic statements that required retraction or clarification and repelled voters seeking the sort of plain-spoken, steady, and reliable man he professed to be."
This phrase "Dean's Missteps" is almost never explained. It is unclear to what it referes to. The statement about Hussein? Not bringing Judy on the campaign trail? The big (phone) $50,000 medicare scandal in VT?
I did a quick google search on "Dean's missteps." See: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=Dean%27s+missteps
It is very interesing. While the phrase has also been used with Kerry and Clark on occasion, it is clearly a phrase created for Dean. One writer says the mis-steps are "flubbing military questions" -- referring to Russert's illegitimate mugging of Dean on the "how many troops we have in Iraq" which Dean got right. Others seem to equate "missteps" with the good doctors tendency to speak his mind.
Most of the reporters don't even explain what the mis-steps are, they just say he made him. It really is a strange media McCarthyism (like Gore's "lies"). The same reporters keep on repeating it without saying what they were. Why? Because there weren't any -- it was just a way to write that Dean wasn't "Presidential" without appearing biased.
And, finally, what is frustrating is that many writers use Dean's "mis-steps" as the counterpoint to the argument that the media really cost Dean the election. The counter that,no, no, it was his "missteps" that did it. But, then typically don't say what these were!