For a long time the opposition leader in Australia was Simon Crean. A smart enough guy. He never failed to criticize the stupid things the government was doing (and there were a lot of them).
Everyone thought he sucked. He did appalingly in the polls. No one was particularly sure why. The left blamed biassed media, but I don't think that is it.
If you've read Cats and Dogs, you'll know where I'm heading here. Simon Crean was playing the dog, it was a very comfortable routine. Sub-consciously at least, everyone could see that. He just didn't behave like a leader.
Fortunately Mark Latham has now taken over, and he does behave like a cat. And is kicking butt in the polls.
(we also have two small left wing parties in Australia: Bob Brown of the Greens is way a cat. The Democrats as a party are dogs, with the possible exception of Senator Stott-Despoja (This came as a shock to members and senators alike when Senator Stott-Despoja became leader. She's short and blonde and cute, her expected place is the dog role... and suddenly she was ordering people around. The senate team put a stop to that soon enough.))
Anyway... Howard Dean. The internet politician. The only sane politician in American politics, as far as I can tell. Failed. Why? I'm sure there are lots of theories, but here's the truth:
His basic platform was critical. No Iraq war. People in Washington are all corrupt. Everyone else is off in la-la land. It's all true. But to say those types of things is to adopt the dog role. It just isn't the kind of thing a leader sayes. (sure, he had policies, but they weren't the main thrust of his campaign)
So instead the USA got Kerry. He looks like a leader. And while he doesn't actually speak comprehensible English sentences, he speaks like a leader.
You may now scream "aaaaah, noooooo, so simple..." and clutch your head in horror. I know I did.