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Thursday, July 10, 2003


transcript of WaPo discussion about Dean

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, July 10, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
The Washington Post had an online chat to discuss the 2004 race and the Democratic field - which really centered on Dean. Staff writer David Von Drehle fielded questions and the transcript is interesting to read. Some excerpts:

Seattle, Wash.: Sir, you seem to Howard Dean confused with someone else. He is certainly a moderate by all but the most radical standards.

Fiscal responsibility -- reining in spending, balancing budgets -- used to be considered a conservative trait. When did a candidate with these priorities become a "liberal?"

Perhaps you were confused by his anti-war stance? Governor Dean is no pacifist. He merely believes -- along with most Americans -- that there must be compelling reasons for war. As we are now discovering, the Bush Administration's reasons may have been wishful thinking.

I do not see a Dean success taking America to the left. I see it as helping America re-discover its true center.

David Von Drehle: I agree with your description of Dean -- that's why I put a paragraph to that effect in the story.

I also stand by what I said, which is that the terrific energy behind the Dean campaign so far has been largely from the left. If you want to know what Dean's campaign would look like if he making a centrist appeal, look at Bob Graham.
Andover, MA: Why are the media continuing to paint Dr. Dean's
supporters as left liberals, when a great many that I
meet (including myself) are moderates and
independents who value his fiscal and gun positions
as much or more than his anti-Iraq invasion (-not-
anti-war) and civil union positions?

Any why is his appeal to white, suburban voters
considered a liability, when those are exactly the
swing voters the Democrats will need to tae the
White House?

David Von Drehle: Your words, not mine.

Given where the Democrats were a few months ago, I would think they might welcome energy wherever they might find it.

But as I said before, the Dean movement is not being powered from the middle.
New York City, NY: If Dean does not, in the edn, get the nomination, won't the party bennefit in the long run from his operation, fundraising and net organizing?

David Von Drehle: It sure seems that way to me.
Baltimore: I feel like I am reliving the Reagan and Nixon landslide victories all over again. If this stupid, happy talk from Left-leaning Dems continues, we as a Dem party are going to lose bigtime...again. It is like seeing a tsunami coming and half the party is not seeing it!;

David Von Drehle: Here's the other side of the argument, very clearly and succinctly put. Thanks!
Milwaukee, WI: Howard Dean is actually very much a moderate, given his stances on fiscal responsibility, unfunded federal mandates on states, and gun control. Why do you think that the DLC and the media miss this reality?

Kevin Collins

David Von Drehle: Well, I wrote it in my story, and my colleague Dan Balz had it earlier in the week in his Dean piece, so I don't think everyone misses it.

The DLC looks at Stan Greenberg's polling that shows the following two things: 1) Americans say national security is the top issue in this campaign and 2) Americans give the GOP a 30-point advantage on national security. And they conclude that it is a mistake to nominate an anti-war candidate.

Are they right about that? I don't know. Are they allowed to say it? Sure.
New York, NY: Dr. Dean was a DLC darling as governor and his
positions are more centrist and moderate than
anyone in the press is letting on. Why would the
DLC rather lose with Lieberman than put up the
best fight possible with Dean?

David Von Drehle: You're right that the DLC liked Dean as governor.

As for why they oppose him now, I would suggest a visit to their website,, where they can speak for themselves.
Fort Lauderdale: Hello David, thanks for answering questions. You keep saying that what Dean appeals to is not the middle, and that the middle is what is needed to defeat Bush. I consider myself 'middle', but apparently it is a subjective term, and I am curious what it means to you. Can you explain what exactly you mean by 'the middle'?

David Von Drehle: I have not meant to say that Dean does not appeal to the middle. Most of the middle has no idea who is running at this point -- by "middle" I mean the 10-15 percent of non-aligned and loosely aligned voters who generally decide our national elections. They tend to tune into the campaigns late and make their decisions even later.

Whether Dean will be around to appeal to those people 14 or 15 months from now ... and whether he will succeed ... is rank speculation and I'm not speculating.

What I am saying is that the juice behind Dean now is coming from the left. It is rooted in three places: 1) anti-war; 2) personly anti-Bush; 3) pro-gay marriage.


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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.