There’s a very interesting article in this week’s Seattle Weekly from Jonathan Raban, a british author who’s been living in Seattle since 1990. In a letter back to Britain that was originally published in The Guardian, he does a really good job of outlining where Seattle sits politically and economically, especially in contrast to how the U.S. in general is presented to the world. Then, towards the end, he mentions a certain up and coming political candidate that is rapidly gaining notice, and suggests that this might be the man to watch in the upcoming months…

There is also much anger with the Democrats for failing to provide any articulate leadership in the war on (not with) Iraq. To many of its traditional supporters, the party appears to have been gutlessly complaisant in its bipartisan stance. But something interesting happened on Feb. 21, when the present crop of presidential hopefuls paraded in front of the Democratic National Committee in what several reporters likened to a beauty pageant. Joe Lieberman made a speech so flat that his candidacy may well have died in that moment. Richard Gephardt boasted of making common cause with the Bush administration on Iraq, and was met with cries of “Shame!” but went on to outline his domestic policy and won a series of standing ovations. Then came Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont.

“I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party…. What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the president’s unilateral attack on Iraq.”

Dean’s opening remarks were enough to leave both Lieberman and Gephardt in the dust. The hall was in an uproar of approval and relief. At last a reasonably qualified and plausible presidential candidate was saying something that rank-and-file Democrats have been waiting to hear for many months. The immediate upshot of his speech (by no means limited to the war) was an orgy of text-messaging from state delegates to their party officials back home, saying that Gephardt had rescued himself after a bad start, Lieberman had flopped, and Howard Dean had carried the day gloriously, on the economy as much as on the invasion of Iraq. Dean is far from being a Gene McCarthy figure; he comes with a raft of policies, one of which happens to be about the war. In the last month, he has moved from being an utterly obscure figure to anyone not from Vermont to being a neck-and-neck front-runner in the Democratic nomination race. If this has come as a surprise to most national political commentators, it doesn’t seem at all surprising if you happen to live in Seattle.

(Via Rick Klau)