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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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Monday, July 07, 2003


Target: Howard Dean: Episode I

posted by Trammell at Monday, July 07, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
The Republican Unity Coalition, a pro-gay GOP group, is the focus of this Newsweek interview with Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) on MSNBC.

Q:Is the GOP’s big tent getting smaller? A:I don’t think so. If you want to go and look at the big tent shrinking, go and look at the Democrats. The fabric is unraveling at the edge of their tent because if they nominate Howard Dean, they can kiss half the Congress goodbye.

And yet another – yes, one more! – of the great contradictions on the right presents itself. What does Simpson really mean by “kiss half the Congress goodbye?” Sounds like a worried guy to me. I mean, I think the guy might be right, but he’s referring to the wrong half of Congress. Have our current crop of legislative leaders -- many of whom are running for President -- helped us to get or to keep a majority in Congress? If Alan Simpson really cared about our numbers in Congress, he’d be advising John Edwards to run for his Senate seat and not for POTUS. But obviously that is not his real concern.

Simpson’s true sentiment is one of concern for his own party, and thus the oxymoronic quality of Simpson’s dismissal. It’s the gay issue itself and Dean’s support of civil unions that many, left and right, have said makes Dean supposedly unelectable. So what’s Simpson’s beef? Hard to know, but it seems like Dean worries him for the very same reasons that he would join a group like the RUC – because when the GOP demonizes gays, they lose. The specter of Buchanan in 1992 and his famous “cultural war” speech still haunt their nightmares. Note that the goal of the RUC is not “LGBT equality” but rather to make LGBT rights a “non-issue” because when it’s an issue and the right starts frothing at the mouth, they lose. No one knows this better than Rove & The Neo-Cons.

And thus, my final point, which illustrates one reason that Rove and Co. are so frightened of Dean as the nominee: LGBT rights will not be a “non-issue” it will be a huge issue. What at first seems like a liability for Dean quickly becomes an asset, as there is no way, let me repeat no way in hell that the Fundamentalist Right will sit on their hands and keep their lips zipped if Howard Dean is the nominee. But hey, let Senator Simpson tell you himself:

Q: Where do you want to see the GOP go from here? A: As I see this election coming, it seems that for the first time I see people realizing that these tests of [ideological] purity do nothing at all to help us win [elections]. All they do is energize zealots, [the] 100-percenters. I tell them: “Why don’t you forget this one issue [about gays]” and remember that George W. is going to be with you 60, 70, 80 percent of the time. And that whoever is on the other side is not going to be. So let’s not cut each other up.

Thanks, Alan. Now we know why you are so anxious to dismiss Howard Dean. As Rove and Simpson and many other smart politicians know, the Rabid Right in full form will be a huge liability for the GOP, and it gives them one more reason get Dean out this race ASAP -- and by any means possible. Which, of course, ain't gonna happen. And best of all voila! a principled position on LGBT civil unions is a winning issue for Howard Dean. Maybe they should quit worrying about the Democrat’s tent and pay a little more attention to their own hot-air balloon, sinking, like a stone.


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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.