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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, January 24, 2003


Dean speech to NARAL - video, analysis

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, January 24, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
C-SPAN has updated their site with a link to Dean's speech to NARAL this week (link via LiberalOasis) :

 CSPAN Video: NARAL speeches

In addition, TNR has an analysis of the speech up. The article analyses each of the candidates speeches to the powerful pro-choice group, and unsurprisingly, Dean gets the best reviews

Edwards's NARAL speech was another unexpected dud. Edwards is still better at retail politics than he is at wholesale politics. The charm he exudes in small groups rarely comes across before large audiences.
Joe Lieberman's speech was short and mono-thematic. Here it is in digest form: "We value women's health. ... Those are our values. ... American values. ... Constitutional values. ... Constitutional and American values. ... Neither side has a monopoly of values ... an American value ... an American value ... an American value. ... I am pro-values."
The candidate who most needed to reassure NARAL, though, was Gephardt. For his first decade in the House, Gephardt was staunchly pro-life. ... For a politician who is known for being emotionally restrained, or even inert, Gephardt gave a deeply personal and eloquent speech about his journey from young prolife Baptist to seasoned pro-choice presidential candidate. He was insistent that he had endured a long personal struggle with his conscience over this issue.
While most of the candidates wrapped their pro-choice beliefs in the soft glow of moral language and studiously ignored the most difficult issues of abortion policy, Dean did the opposite. His style is to grab the political live wire that everyone else is terrified of touching. And so Dean took partial-birth abortion, NARAL's most controversial and difficult-to-defend position, and made it the centerpiece of his speech, insisting that the term itself was an artifice manufactured by the right. "This is an issue about nothing," he proclaimed to the most boisterous applause of the evening. He then moved on to the next most divisive issue: parental notification. One of his twelve-year-old patients became pregnant after she was raped by her father, the Vermont physician said. "You explain that to the American people who think that parental notification is a good idea."
Next to Edwards's speech, Kerry's was the least memorable of the evening. It was a serviceable restatement of Kerry's commitment to all the issues NARAL cares about. There was even a sort of checklist at the end of it: "No overturning Roe v. Wade. No packing of the courts with judges hostile to choice. No denial of choice to poor women. No outlawing of a procedure necessary to save a woman's life or physical health. No more cutbacks on population-control efforts around the world." Kerry probably had the least need to impress this audience. His first Senate speech in 1985 was about abortion rights, and he's been a reliable ally to groups like NARAL ever since.

The article also mentions that just as Dean has inherited most of Bradley's campaign infrastructure, so has Kerry inherited Gore's.

However, a Yahoo report on the same event has a less flattering view:

Dean's medical background gave him an aura of credibility, but it may have been undercut by some jarring rhetoric. One example: Criticizing the Bush administration for steps to curb abortion, he said that if they continued on that path, soon U.S. women wouldn't be able to go to school. The implicit comparison was to the repressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Glenn picked up on this report, characterizing it as "Dean says Bush is the Taliban" - which I think is unfair. The Yahoo story clearly says that the analogy was implicit. Dean never mentioned the Taliban, and he critiqued the Administration, not Bush.


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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.