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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Joe Klein can't help himself,9565,426084,00.html

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, February 25, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Joe Klein, who on Meet the Press had such positive comments about Dean, is in denial. Ina lengthy TIME piece ostensibly about defending Richard Gephardt, he is unable to resist praising Dean:

There is a certain sadness to watching both men work this time around — especially in Iowa last week, where peace is the issue, hot is the style, and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is rapidly becoming the flavor of the month. Ask an Iowa Democrat about Gephardt or Lieberman, and the most common reaction is a sigh. Meanwhile, Dean is wicked fun, a candidate who works without text and without net, excoriating his fellow Democrats for supporting President Bush on Iraq (while cleverly leaving a way to support Bush himself — if Saddam is found to be developing nukes, and if the United Nations is willing to go along). Dean speaks English, not focus group or legislatese. He sounds fresh — and last Friday, in Washington, he set the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting ablaze. "My name is Howard Dean," he said, after firing off a fusillade of examples of Democratic wimpiness, "and I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

By contrast, Gephardt and Lieberman, and North Carolina Senator John Edwards, seem to be moving, and talking, in slow motion. All three spend a fair amount of time telling their personal stories, which are compelling. All three say they are fighting for average folks like their parents. All three voted with the President on Iraq and try to confront that issue straight on. Edwards is best at this: "I know you don't agree with me on Iraq," he told an audience in Indianola, Iowa, which seemed to be entirely composed of peace activists, "but I want to tell you directly, from my own mouth, why I feel the way I do about this." And then Edwards — Gephardt and Lieberman do almost exactly the same — said Saddam is a real threat who needs to be disarmed, but quickly moved on to the President's "cowboy mentality" and diplomatic depredations: "Your family is safer in a world where people look up to America than in a world where we are hated." At this, an elderly woman named Jane Majors scribbled a sign with Magic Marker and held it above her head: BUT WAR WILL MAKE THEM HATE US MORE.

And so there's a tortoise-and-hare quality to the campaign. Dean dashing, the others slogging along, ducking brickbats and trying to explain themselves.

I repeat, this piece is supposed to be about Richard Gephardt. But since Klein actually refers to Gephardt as "macaroni and cheese" and the best he can say about him is "Poor Gephardt: put a microphone in front of him and he sounds like he's trying to climb the down escalator." Klein argues that Gephardt's qualities of experience and plain-speaking are key to a winning strategy, but looking at Dean's record as an executive branch leader, and Klein's admitted awe of Dean's plain english, its clear that Dean fits these qualities far better. We just have to wait for Klein to wake up and realise who he really is in love with.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.