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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, October 10, 2003


dereliction of duty

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, October 10, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I often critique Dean on minor issues, but this is the first time I've been outraged by his actions. Or specifically, his inaction. I don't use the title above lightly.

There is a Candidate Dean that I believe in. That candidate said of President Bush, "I think what the president is doing is setting the stage for the failure of America." That candidate said of President Bush, "Never have we had a president in this country whose rhetoric was so far removed from his record."

But that candidate was missing in action last night. That candidate was absent without leave.

When the Plame affair first broke in major media, I noted that it was an opportunity for Dean to take the lead. Unfortunately, Dean didn't really mention it as I had hoped he would on the morning show circuit at the start of October. He did release one official statement, but the Plame Affair never entered his major talking points on the trail.

And then last night - he really dropped the ball.

What other issue so cleanly illustrates the principled critiques of Bush that are the centerpiece of Dean's appeal? What other issue is so perfectly timed with the President's lower poll numbers to illustrate that he can be beaten? What other issue so forcefully reminds people of this Administration's disdain of facts, and pursuit of politics at the expense of national security?

If our man won't press his advantage, then what use is he to us?

UPDATE: here's Liberal Oasis' full commentary on this:

In the Clinton-Gore days, when the GOP caught a whiff of Dem scandal, no matter how thin the evidence was, they drilled it relentlessly. It’s always worth remembering such ferocity can be taken too far (namely, impeachment, a political disaster for the GOP). But if you want to make something stick, you can’t stand back and assume the media is going to do the job. You gotta push and push and push.

Today, you have Bush in the most politically precarious position in his entire presidency. Approval rating hovering around 50% (49% in one poll). Iraq WMD hunt a complete embarrassment. And a burgeoning scandal involving a “criminal” act (to quote Dubya) jeopardizing national security. What better time than a nationally televised debate to pile on and jack up the political pressure?

Yet, almost no candidate even mentioned The Leak. Only John Kerry did, and it was barely more than a joke line: They used to think their strong suit was national security. They can't find Osama bin Laden. They can't find Saddam Hussein. They can't even find the leaker in the White House.

This scandal has the potential to transform people perceptions of what this entire White House is all about. But it won’t, unless Dem candidates pound away and constantly turn up the heat.

and if the Deocratic nominee isn't able to change those perceptions, the nominee will lose in 2004. It's that simple.


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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.