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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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Thursday, May 15, 2003


Clinton defends Dean

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, May 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Clinton is, as Matt pointed out, the ultimate DLCer and the most sucessful Democrat in history. The full article on the interview with Clinton is in the SFGate. Here are the important bits, but read the original for much more:

But [Clinton] said it was important for Democrats to stop fighting among themselves and refocus their criticism on their eventual foes -- President Bush and the Republicans.

If the current crop of candidates is judged on what they accomplished before running for president, the field is strong, Clinton said. And some of those accomplishments contradict the image candidates have earned in the presidential race, he said.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is described as very liberal by many following the presidential race, Clinton said, "but look at what he did as governor of Vermont."

Clinton described Dean's accomplishments with health care in his home state and his proposal to promote a national health care plan with a modest price tag as "New Democrat" positions. He was referring to the moniker the Democratic Leadership Council puts on Democrats who can blend moderate ideas that appeal to swing voters with traditional Democratic themes.

And Clinton didn't hesitate when he was asked the overriding question: Can Bush be beaten? "You can always be beaten," Clinton said with a smile. "I could have been beaten in 1996."

The basic DLC spin is that Dean is unelectable. But Clinton points out that Dean has already staked out a very "New Democrat" position with his actual record of accomplishments. And that a New Democrat, with appeal to swing voters as well as an energized base, is what it will take to defeat Bush. My opinion is that the DLC is motivated by fear - of an unbeatable Bush. That blinds them and - as Clinton rebukes - causes them to focus on infighting. But Bush can be beaten - and Dean is Clinton's ideological heir.

UPDATE: Chris Andersen has an insightful analysis on the timing of Clinton's interview. It doesn't seem to be a coincidence.


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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.