Sunday, April 06, 2003
Dean too complex for most pundits -- but hopefully not for most voters http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36583-2003Apr5.html
The war in Iraq has divided and largely silenced the Democrats, leaving many of their leaders as bystanders to the conflict and their presidential candidates contending with a resurgent antiwar constituency that could drive the party farther to the left.
The war has underscored the absence of consensus among Democrats on foreign policy and national security and highlighted concern among some Democrats that, to date, no one has emerged with the experience, political stature or credibility to pull the party together to challenge President Bush on issues that will be central to the 2004 election.
Now personally, I don't happen to think this is a bad thing. The Democrats desperately need to stop marching lock-step with each other. And Howard Dean has done just that. And, not a surprise, he is the main focus of this article. His steadfast opposition to the war in Iraq has put many of the other Democratic contenders on the defensive. Here's another quote:
The strength of the antiwar left has boosted the presidential candidacy of former Vermont governor Howard Dean, a vociferous critic of going to war before it started, and it has forced candidates who supported going to war to find other ways to appeal to the party's liberal activists to prevent the once-dismissed Dean from gaining even more ground.
Well yes, much of the antiwar left have rallied around Dean but I think it's more than that; he has, or rather offers, no stock answers. As I said, he considers each question about each issue and offers a surprisingly well thought out answer. Whether it concerns gun rights or abortion rights or healthcare or the war, he doesn't fit into any neat pidgen-hole the way reporters and pundits wish he would -- that would make their jobs, and criticisms easier.
And this gift of Dean's is what had me voting for him five times. Those who know me or my blog Alphecca know my main concern in life is protecting the Second Amendment. Howard Dean has consistently agreed and governed that way. He's also a fiscal conservative (as I am) and has made the tough cuts in the state budget when they had to be made. We disagree about some issues but I defy any honest person to find a candidate they really agree with one hundred percent. Even the most die-hard Democrat must find some things they think Bush is doing right or they are the most dishonest person in the world. When I think about voting for a candidate I draw up a list of ten issues I care most about and evaluate each candidate based on that list.
Anyway, back to Dean and this article. Here's another quote:
Dean not only has attacked the president for going to war without establishing that Iraq represented an imminent threat to the United States, but also has criticized those Democrats who voted for the congressional resolution authorizing war. At party gatherings, Democratic activists have consistently given Dean their most enthusiastic applause.
Many Democrats predict that Dean's candidacy will suffer once the war ends, arguing that antiwar activists will begin to look beyond Iraq to other issues as they weigh their choices for the nomination. They also contend that the desire to defeat Bush will force the antiwar left to weigh who has the best chance of doing that.
"Right now he gets a lot of energy and a lot of support from people who are antiwar," one Democratic operative said. "It's not clear whether or not that group will stay with Dean or look to other major '04 candidates after the war in Iraq."
Dean advisers say his candidacy transcends opposition to the war and will prosper whether or not the antiwar left remains cohesive. Others say the more Dean continues to be a significant force in the nomination battle after the war, the bigger the danger for the party.
"If the war turns out to be a success, enough savvy Democratic operatives, contributors and activists will do their best to make sure the party does not nominate a Howard Dean candidate," said William Mayer of Northeastern University in Boston. "They will find somebody who will plausibly look strong enough on defense not to doom the party."
This conflict will, in various stages, be with us for the next few years. The actual war might end in a few weeks but "mopping up" and rebuilding and creating a new government will take a long time. Dean could suffer from that but I really think most folks will -- as the election draws near -- consider all that he stands for. Look, I disagree (tepidly) with his stance on the war with Iraq but when I weigh my "ten issues" with his record and his statements, I find myself liking him a lot. Granted, I agree with Bush about some issues but his "Homeland Security" legislation is an abomination and is anti-Constitutional. I'm not sure I could bring myself to vote for him again based just on that issue alone. Dean is far more attractive.
Dean is gaining momentum and gaining in the polls (he's tied with Kerry -- a politician I truly loath) and I think he will pull ahead. And this is good news for many reasons but especially because New Hampshire is the first primary and if he leads the pack there, he will have the momentum to win many more.
The Press might have a tough time figuring him out but I think most Democrats and many voters won't. Like me, they care about a lot of things and Dean comes down on the right side of most of them.
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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.