Well, I’ve tried to warm up to Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
I’ve waited, watched, and read just about everything posted on his campaign web site and official blog. I’ve tried mightily to reach the conclusion that he’s an exciting new player with fresh perspective ready to fight for the right things.
But I just can’t.
The truth of the matter is that Governor Dean is the polar opposite–an unstable, angry candidate who lacks the consistency, diplomatic skill and relevancy to avoid joining the ranks of Mondale and Dukakis. Barring some completely unforseen turn of events, I just cannot support his candidacy.
In fact, I’m not even sure of its validity anymore. Everything coming from the Dean campaign has been straight outta Compton. One minute he’s accusing his fellow Democrats of being no different than Republicans. The next minute it’s:
He says he belongs to the tradition of “Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and the first President Bush.” (Source: Slate.com)
In the beginning, it was forgivable. Governor Dean was new to the national political scene, and it’s a big move–even for a state governor.
Remember his June appearance on “Meet the Press”? He was ill prepared, unable to speak intelligently on the Medicare bill, couldn’t make up his mind on a balanced budged amendment, wasn’t sure if he was for or against the death penalty, didn’t know how many troops we had in the Middle East, and concluded by suggesting that fellow Democrats “needed a backbone transplant”.
But the gaffs have been endless. The Gore endorsement was botched. Then there was the Confederate flag fiasco. And then his campaign gets into a “he said/she said” debate over whether or not Wesley Clark was offered the #2 spot on the ticket.
Let’s fast-forward to December, 2003. So far this month, the Dean campaign has:
- suggested that President Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand and let it happen
- indicated there might be a chance Osama bin Laden was not guilty
- refused to have his records released after criticizing others for doing the same
- revealed that Governor Dean had a secret energy task force in Vermont, just like the one he’s been assailing Vice President Cheney over
- made an extremely clumsy play for southern votes by touting his religiousness
On the other hand, the Bush administration has been very consistent over the past few years on both economic and foreign policy fronts. There were many naysayers in the public and the media, but the bet seems to be paying off. While Dean flounders, Bush gets:
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. For example, I despise the USA Patriot Act. The steel tarrifs were a big political miscalculation. And the federal government is spending money at a ghastly rate.
I’m willing to give Bush somewhat of a pass on that last item, because spending is controlled as much by Congress as it is by the White House. And with the country at war, deficit spending is not as unpalatable as it might be in peacetime.
But the place where Bush really shines over Howard Dean is foreign policy. Governor Dean has been vociferously outspoken against our involvement in Iraq. I respect his opinion and understand his opposition (which is detailed on the Dean campaign site), but I simply disagree with him.
We uncovered UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) held by the Iraqi military. They can be used to deliver a nuclear weapon, and the ones we found had a 500+ km range. We found plans for a weapons program buried in the backyard of an Iraqi scientist on June 25th, along with equipment used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. We also found spray tanks mounted on MiG-21s. As far as I know, the only purpose for such a thing would be to spread a chemical or biological agent. Secretary Powell has already presented all this to the United Nations.
It seems clear to me that Saddam Hussein’s regieme was pursuing WMDs, violating U.N. resolutions, and was harboring and/or financing terrorists. That’s in addition to genocide against the Kurds, starving and torturing Iraqis, and diverting international funds earmarked for aid to nefarious ends.
When voters go to the ballot box, they’ll know that the Taliban is gone. The Ba’ath party is gone. Hussein has been captured. And the domino effect seems to be working, as Libya recently agreed to end it’s pursuit of WMDs. Now we’re sending emergency aid to Iran after a massive earthquake in the ancient city of Bam. Who knows–eventually that too may pay dividends in cutting off support for terrorism.
Bush was smart in sticking to his guns on the international scene. The administration learned well the lessons of the Cold War. Strength and consistency will win the fight against terrorism.
On the foreign policy front, Dean seems more like George McGovern than Bill Clinton. Teflon-coated or not, Governor Dean has a lot of holes that will need plugging if he hopes to compete in the general election. Are things like The Bush Tax the best he can do? I’ll delve into that one another day, but for now you might want to view it with a critical eye. Ask yourself for the specifics. And then look at the last paragraph. Dean’s answer to the “Bush tax” looks a lot like a…. tax.
I’ve tried to be open-minded about Howard Dean. He’s managed to excite a portion of the political spectrum, and has certainly revolutionized the way campaigns use the internet. I also admire his background as a physician and willingness to speak his mind. But it’s just not enough.
Sorry, Dean. I tried my best… but it just wasn’t meant to be.