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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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Friday, September 05, 2003


Saletan on the debate

posted by G at Friday, September 05, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
A fair and useful summary. Key excerpts on Dean:
4. Commander Dean. Dean was clearly focused on coming off as a plausible commander in chief. He referred explicitly to that duty, cited his support for the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2001 Afghan war, maintained a painfully serious expression throughout the debate, and showed off his foreign-policy cramming by proposing to ask "our allies such as Egypt and Morocco" to contribute troops to Iraq. He succeeded in looking serious, to the point of constipation. I'm not sure that was a net gain. By the way, why does the former governor of Vermont speak better Spanish than the former governor of Texas?

5. Dean vs. me. The current conventional wisdom among Democrats is, if you can't be Dean, the next best thing is to be Dean's assailant. Thursday night, everybody got into the act. Kucinich scoffed that Dean's balanced budgets were easy because "Vermont doesn't have a military." Even Graham, who agreed with Dean that the Iraq war was a bad idea, chose to emphasize that he and Dean opposed the war for different reasons. Lieberman hit Dean hardest, asserting that under Dean's trade policies, "the Bush recession would be followed by the Dean depression." Later, Lieberman criticized "Gov. Dean and others who would adopt so large a [health-care] program that it would force an increase in middle-class taxes." That critique applies more accurately to Gephardt. But attacking Gephardt doesn't get you on the evening news.
9. The non-Clinton touch. Once again, Lieberman showed the best preparation and worst execution of the Democratic debaters. I cringed when he said of terrorists, "If we don't get together and defeat them now, shame on us." Shame? You mean, on top of getting killed? Then Lieberman followed Edwards' "Hasta la vista" with a laborious and clumsily delivered Spanish sentence that was supposed to convey the same thing but didn't. Then he provoked some dismay in the audience by warning of a "Dean depression," a phrase so full of overkill that it seemed more likely to kill its author. It was almost the only thing in the debate that made Dean smile. And no wonder: He got more applause for answering the punch than Lieberman got for delivering it.


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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.