If Dean goes on to lose the nomination which appears increasingly likely, commentators and future historians will no ponder how such a soaring campaign could so suddenly collapse, especially in the absence of a major gaffe or scandel. These analysts will search for a single moment or series of moments when the momentum turned.
I'd suggest that there was a single subtle moment in the campaign where Dean lost the faith of the voters, and it wasn't any negative advertising in Iowa or Dean's denigrating remarks about the Iowa caucus system or anything like that. I don't even think it was shouting down the heckler at that Iowa town hall meeting, or anything having to do with Dean's youthful over-exuberant volunteers.
In my mind the pivotal moment was during the second to last debate before the Iowa caucus where Kerry made reference to Dean's suggestion that Osama Bin Laden had not yet been proven guilty, and then asked "What in the world were you thinking?"
The gravitas of Kerry's tone and expression as he asked the question coupled with a lame Dean response sealed it. This moment indicated, probably falsely, that Dean could not relate to the depth of hurt, victimization, and rage still experienced by Americans toward Bin Laden, while Kerry, with his military background and grave ashen features, seemed to have a deeper understanding.
What do you think?