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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, December 02, 2003


nothing to hide

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, December 02, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
If there's one truth about Howard Dean's 11 years as Governor, it's that he antagonized everyone. He disappointed the liberals by holding fast to a balanced budget, he outraged the conservatives by signing civil unions into law (and came under attack by gay advocates for not being more public about signing the same bill) - the list goes on.

And if you look at Vermont today, it's clear that his legacy was a boon to the state - the only state to have no debt and a balanced budget.

It's safe to assume that Dean doesn't have anything to hide. He governed well and did so surrounded by political enemies. If a bloody skeleton tumbles out of his closet tomorrow, I'll be the first to denounce him, but I think that on the whole it's a good thing that Dean has sealed his governing records for a decade:

As investigative reporters and “oppo” researchers flock to Vermont to dig into Howard Dean’s past, they have run into a roadblock. A large chunk of Dean’s records as governor are locked in a remote state warehouse—the result of an aggressive legal strategy designed in part to protect Dean from political attacks.

DEAN—WHO HAS BLASTED the Bush administration for excessive secrecy—candidly acknowledged that politics was a major reason for locking up his own files when he left office last January. He told Vermont Public Radio he was putting a 10-year seal on many of his official papers—four years longer than previous Vermont governors—because of “future political considerations... We didn’t want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time.” “Most of the records are open,” said Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright, adding there is “absolutely not” a “smoking gun” in those for which Dean has claimed “executive privilege.”

There's a very good reason for sealing these records - because "oppo" research is less concerned with finding honest facts to critique than with finding ammunition with which to smear Dean's record. Witness how Grover Norquist spun Vermont's record of fiscal discipline as a "tax increase". Or how Gephardt tried to spin Dean's statements on Medicare and painted his fiscal record as "governance without compassion". Sharpton says Dean is against affirmative action, Clark says Dean evaded Vietnam...

And just wait till Karl Rove gets his turn.

There's damn good reason to seal the records. If you want to know how Dean did in Vermont, ask the people still governing the state - including his political opponents, who now endorse him.

And if you want to see what real abuse of power by overly-secretive government looks like, then remember that many of the detainees in Gitmo are being released only after severe judicial scrutiny, which revealed that many were simply kidnap victims, not terrorists (see TalkLeft for details).

Dean's records need to stay sealed - and those who are selectively outraged have no credibility on the matter.


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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.