December 16, 2003


Democrats must decide: Is Dean still viable? (DAVID YEPSEN, 12/16/2003, Des Moines Register)

The post-Saddam phase of the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign began Monday. Democrats must now decide a simple question: Do they want to nominate a candidate who voted to go to war to oust Saddam Hussein, or do they want one who opposed the idea? All other issues and differences seem much smaller in comparison to this issue.

It's been simmering on the Democratic burner for months, and Saddam's capture just caused it to boil up again. The Democratic Party ripped itself up over war and peace issues during Vietnam, and seems poised to do it again. No candidate seems to have found a middle ground that is acceptable to all factions.

Candidates who voted for the war in Congress are unacceptable to the many anti-war activists backing Howard Dean. Some threaten to stay home in November if Dean isn't the nominee. Yet supporters of the pro-war candidates are suggesting that Dean's opposition to the conflict reflects his inexperience and that his anti-war position will lead the party to a crashing defeat next year.

How can anybody not love politics? Here's a guy who was on top of the world last Friday, having won the endorsement of his Party's fallen martyr. Today he has the dean of Iowa journalism asking if his candidacy is viable...

Dean vs. Bush: Would it be close?: Former Vermont governor tries to recast himself on foreign policy, but is he too liberal to win? (Linda Feldmann and Liz Marlantes, 12/17/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

[I]f Dean was hoping to portray himself as the moderate in foreign policy, compared with what the Dean team calls Bush's radical policy of preemptive warfare, the news headlines didn't cooperate. Dean, in fact, could find himself boxed in by his position on the Iraq war, with opponents largely seizing on one quote - "the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer" - to attack him. The central point of the so-called "Dean doctrine," an emphasis on multilateral action in international affairs, got less attention.

-The New Electable Howard Dean: Evolution of a Not-So-Radical Contender (Kareem Fahim, December 17 - 23, 2003, Village Voice)
This month, Dean's campaign has moved past the single issue that his critics said made him unelectable—his anti-war rhetoric. While his innovative and successful fundraising strategy and his healthy poll numbers have been tracked for some time, his policy proposals have been somehow obscured by the very passion that first attracted the crowds.

Officially, his campaign maintains it was never concerned that Dean was becoming too closely identified with his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. The war, said Jay Carson, a Dean spokesperson,"is just a metaphor for standing up for what you believe in."


Posted by Orrin Judd at December 16, 2003 6:41 PM

Dean of Iowa journalism? You make me feel old. I used to be his city editor when he was a youngish pup.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 16, 2003 8:03 PM

Not-so-radical for the Village Voice.

Posted by: sandy P. at December 16, 2003 8:34 PM

The war is just a metaphor? Who does Dean think he is? Noam Chomsky? Michael Lerner?

Of course, your question is right on point. Dean does seem to have a totalitarian side to him.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 16, 2003 11:12 PM

Dean's spokesperson's impressively inscrutable phrase is actually much more profound than he probably intended.

For if "The war 'is just a metaphor for standing up for what you believe,'" what does that make opposition to the war?....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 17, 2003 8:18 AM

"Democrats must decide: Is Dean still viable?"

I don't think they care, see today's WSJ where they discuss their focus group of Democrats. What is the all time low vote for a major party candidate?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 17, 2003 3:38 PM