I loathe Howard Dean.
I loathe George W. Bush even more. However, between Dean and Bush, I choose Dean. Bush's pandering to Arab oil interests puts us at calamitous long-term risk and compromises our security. His wartime tax cuts are unforgivable and his motives behind them seem, at best, opportunistic, particularly during a period of such sizable debt. But touting Howard Dean as the solution to Bush II is akin to touting Ben Wetmore as the solution to Ben Ladner.
Dean will probably get the nomination. Against all odds he has raised the most money of any Democrat and has reached momentum that no other candidate has. He has the good fortune of not being in Congress, and can therefore invent his positions on international issues any way he wants because he has no record. Compare this to Sen. Graham, an anti-war candidate with a vote to show for it, and possessing a detailed alternative to Bush's shenanigans. Go to deanforamerica.com and see for yourself if Dean has any plans for foreign policy and national security other than handing Iraq over to the U.N. (no easy task in itself).
Dean is the master of the sound byte. He seems to have a one-liner for everything. He employs an evasive, crowd-pleasing rhetoric eerily reminiscent of both Clinton and Bush. However, while Clinton was smart enough and Bush powerful enough to cover their respective tracks, Dean seems to have only his abrasive bluster to cover his vague doublespeak.
Here are just a few examples of Dean speaking broken Clintonese:
1. Dean, as we all have heard ad nauseum, claims to represent the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." However, Dean definitely doesn't seem to be the progressive he maintains he is. Indeed, with the exception of the gay marriage bill, his gubernatorial record seems a bit right-of-center (anti gun-control, pro death-penalty, tax cuts, etc). Not to mention that Paul Wellstone used the line long before Dean and so did Pat Buchanan (for Republicans).
2. On his Website, Dean attributes a vague Madeline Albright quote for never justifying unilateralism. Well, considering that Albright's team acted "unilaterally" in Kosovo regardless of what she said, should we expect the same of Dean? Albright is also on record saying "We (the U.S.) will act multilaterally when we can, and unilaterally when we must."
3. Dean claims that he would like the U.S. to take an "impartial stance in the Middle East." It does not take much to understand that Dean is implying that the U.S. is too pro-Israel. The implication was so unsubtle that even Joe Lieberman picked up on Dean's implication which became one of the focal points of the Baltimore debate.
However, what truly scares me more than anything else about Howard Dean is not Dean himself, but the bulk of his followers. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but Howard Dean seems less of a person than a movement - an isolationist movement that rejects many of the United States' greatest accomplishments. Why? Because many of our greatest accomplishments were in situations that required military force, situations where only military force would suffice.
Often without even knowing it, this movement takes its cues from fringe thinkers like Noam Chomsky and Edward Said. It opposes the Iraq war not because of its unilateralism, or its lack of a coherent post-war plan. It opposes the war because it views U.S. intervention as immoral, regardless of the situation. This movement believes terrorism is often nothing but collateral damage and attempts to justify the actions of mass murderers who should be tried for war crimes.
This movement has more in common with Pat Buchanan than with Franklin Roosevelt and is every bit as dangerous as the neo-conservative movement from which it reacts.
Scariest to me is how quickly it has grown. Whereas it was only small enough to barely steal away the general election from a liberal-to-moderate like Al Gore, it now seems to have grown large enough to be the most united and powerful wing of the Democratic party.
Fortunately, Howard Dean's beliefs (if he has any) are nowhere near as radical as many of his followers would like us to believe. If he is by some miracle elected president, many of his followers will be sorely disappointed with the results. He is, after all, a politician, and should he be faced with another country that is a security threat, he will have no choice but to intervene lest his "principled" stand against interference be seen as negligent of our safety.
Six months away from the New Hampshire primary, Howard Dean has campaigned himself into a hole from which he cannot escape. Moderates are sickened by his liberal posturing, and liberals will feel betrayed when they realize that he cannot possibly live up to his promises to withdraw from Iraq. Ultimately, the question is not if Dean will burn out but when. No wonder Karl Rove wants to face him so badly!