Douglas MacKinnon

No surprise that Mr. Dean went on to lose the Iowa Caucus. Later that evening, after losing, Mr. Dean gave his now infamous "I have a scream" speech. Next, between that night and the New Hampshire primary one week later, the media played that clip more than 600 times. It was assault and battery by the media and Mr. Dean was down for the count as Mr. Kerry won New Hampshire on his way to the nomination.

What must be remembered in all of this is just a couple of months prior to that primary, Mr. Kerry was tracking in the high single- or low double-digit numbers in many New Hampshire polls. Because they border Massachusetts, those voters knew Mr. Kerry well and never liked him. But, when Mr. Dean was blown up by the media, the voters decided that Mr. Kerry was the only "viable" candidate left.

It should be noted that after that network assault, Diane Sawyer of ABC News called the heads of the other networks for on-the-record quotes, asking if they overplayed the Dean scream. She reported: "With the exception of NBC News (which started the destruction), they all said collectively the media did overplay it." CNN said, "if we had to do it again, we'd pull ourselves back." Little solace for Mr. Dean but a real lesson for those who try to predict presidential primaries. Until actual votes are cast, anything can happen at any time.

As this ugly process plays out, the question should not be who's inevitable, but rather, who's next. Mr. Edwards seems to be third in line for take off, but if Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama crash and burn ahead of him, it may be clear skies all the way to the nomination.

Douglas MacKinnon

Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of The Secessionist States of America. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014)

Be the first to read Douglas MacKinnon's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.