EJ Dionne rebuts Steven Den Beste. Apparently, it's all about the white male vote and "exciting your base" in 2004. All in all, Dionne makes the more airtight case, probably because he hasn't taken as an axiom that "Democrats are inevitably going to crash and burn most spectacularly next year", an assertion that Steven treats as axiomatic and builds his essay around, despite placing it at the end. I don't fault Steven for articulating his preference for the 2004 outcome but it's not a serious analysis, it's a narrative.
Serious analysis of 2004 hinges on recognition of certain points: that Gore would have won in 2000, even without florida, if Nader had not spoiled certain swing states (and a Nader run this time around will not likely be a threat). This also means that the Democrat can win without the South if he compensates by picking up one swing state (such as Arizona, which has a Democratic governor this time around, who has already endorsed Dean).
Another important point is the influence of the Hispanic vote, which the GOP has courted but which has been heavily alienated by President Bush's hard-line towards Mexico and the failed promises regarding worker programs from the 2000 election. And another point is the general trend towards issues that favor the Democrats, chronicled by the book The Emergent Democratic Majority (whose authors also run an informative blog devoted to the issue). Note that the midterm elections in 2002, though portrayed as a rout by the Republicans over the Democrats, actually were won by small margins - only a few ten thousand votes here and there and the outcome would have been the polar opposite. The loss is almost entirely due to the fact that the Democratic leadership failed to energize their base, and the election was won solely on teh strength of voter turnot efforts. Since then, Dean has stepped up to the plate in that regard).
2004 will be a close, tough race for both sides. Any prediction to the contrary is wishful thinking. And I have to wonder at the validity of Steven's implied assertion that all white males vote on the basis of "Jacksonian" worldview. There are more issues on the table than the one on which Steven's attention is focused on.