Wednesday, February 9


Heard this morning on Fox & Friends (channel-flipping while CNN was on commercial) during an interview with Tim Roemer, "But Dean is WAY out there as a liberal!" Where do the wingnuts and even some Democrats get such an idea? I think from two things: Dean's opposition to the Iraq war and his support for civil unions in Vermont. Dean is, in fact, a moderate.

Though many among the Democrats' small but influential center-right faction are aghast at the thought of Dean heading the party, it's easy to forget who Howard Dean is. Despite his leadership in opposing Bush's invasion of Iraq, Dean was a moderate Vermont governor.

He was a fiscal conservative and friendly to business. Fans of Vermont's progressive hero, congressman Bernie Sanders, say Dean is no liberal. Dean alienated many liberals staking out moderate stands on health insurance, guns, environmentalism, and gay marriage. Vermont became the first state with domestic partnership only because a court ordered the Legislature to approve gay marriage or some equivalent and Dean opted for the more cautious approach.

On defense, where Democrats need to show that they are more serious about national security than Republicans, Dean is no pacifist. He simply believes that the Iraq war, as prosecuted by George Bush, on dishonest premises and with no serious planning for the aftermath, was the wrong way to keep America safe. If, as seems likely, the vaunted Iraq election ultimately leads to an Islamist theocracy, Dean's opposition will be vindicated yet again.
The contrast with the unified Republican machinery is striking, where, as some obscure German didn't say, there is ein Bush, ein Rove, and ein party.

The only way Democrats can compete with this is by energizing activists and building their party. It's a more selfless job than running for president. Let's see what Dean can do.


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