"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Howard Dean may have achieved political immortality, forever writing himself into the annals of U.S. presidential campaign lore with his primal scream on Monday night.
The question is, did the former Vermont governor also deal a fatal, self-inflicted blow to his White House hopes?
"Disraeli said there was no finality in politics, but Dean's campaign is lying on the table right now and the priest is coming in the door to administer the last rites," said American University political historian Allan Lichtman.
Polls show Dean's support slipping in New Hampshire, which next Tuesday stages its crucial primary. A month ago, his lead over the other Democratic contenders seemed insurmountable. Now he has been overtaken by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the victor in Iowa.
Until Monday, when people spoke of "The Scream" they usually referred to the 1893 painting by Norwegian Edvard Munch showing an emaciated figure standing on a bridge against a lurid red-orange sunset, clutching his ears, with eyes bulging and mouth open wide in a shout of anguish. Behind him a couple, possibly his friends, are walking off in the opposite direction.
That may be a suitable metaphor for what Dean is feeling right now.
Dean's yell came at the end of a speech to his supporters after he placed a disappointing third in the Iowa caucuses, the first binding vote of the 2004 campaign.
"Not only are we going to New Hampshire ..., we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York," he said. "And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we're going to Washington, D.C. To take back the White House. Yeaeeeaaaaah!" "