December 14, 2003


Dean mounts foreign policy challenge with pledges on Israel and Korea (David Usborne, 15 December 2003, The Independent)

Howard Dean, who is leading the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, is to spell out starkly different approaches to those of President George Bush on foreign policy, including a willingness to address swiftly border issues between Palestine and Israel and enter bilateral talks with North Korea. [...]

In Los Angeles today, the candidate is due to disclose that Tony Lake, the former national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, is among those he has assembled to advise him on foreign policy. He is also expected to give details of plans to create a multi-billion-dollar international fund to combat terrorism around the world.

Let's imagine the scene at Dean HQ: "We're doing so well with the pro-Ba'athist stuff, how about siding with Arafat and Kim Jong-Il? And, while we're at it, even though folks think I'm an Islamicist dupe, let's bring on board notorious Communist dupe Tony Lake. Wait though, here's the topper, I'll announce all this on the day after we capture Saddam and it's revealed that Abu Nidal trained Mohammed Atta in Iraq at Saddam's behest."

One begins to believe that Karl Rove created Governor Dean in a laboratory under the West Wing.

The Politics of Saddam: What Saddam's capture means for the 2004 race and the Democratic contenders. Hint: It's bad for Howard Dean.
(Fred Barnes, 12/14/2003, Weekly Standard)

The big loser is Howard Dean--potentially. Dean has embarked on an image-altering effort so he'll be seen as a centrist on foreign affairs. In interviews with the Washington Post and New York Times, he insisted the differences between himself and Bush are not great, mainly about style, not substance. He offered this amazing statement to the Times: "It's all about nuance." In truth, there's rarely been a presidential candidate with a less nuanced approach to foreign affairs.

Dean demonstrated this once again in his response to Saddam's capture. He praised the capture, then claimed that it had created "an enormous opportunity" to adopt what amounts to the Iraq policy of France. First, do "everything possible" to bring the United Nations, NATO, and others into the effort in Iraq. In other words, turn the Iraq situation over to those who not only favored keeping Saddam in power, but also sought to undermine the American policy of regime change in Iraq from the moment it was first announced by President Clinton in 1998. And second, speed up the turnover of power to Iraqis. There's nothing nuanced about that advice. And by the way, Dean claimed last week that he had never called Saddam a "danger" to the United States. [...]

All the Democratic candidates passed up the opportunity to advocate debt relief for Iraq. We're talking about some $120 billion in debts amassed by Saddam. Why not demand that France, Germany, and Russia forgive the debts and give the Iraqi government that takes over next year a running start? After all, the new government won't be able to pay the debts anyway. They've left the debt relief issue to Bush. Not smart.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 14, 2003 10:35 PM

Wasn't it Richard Nixon who said: "Never try to kill a man who's committing suicide." ?

Posted by: John J. Coupal at December 14, 2003 11:27 PM

Dean is simply amazing.

Logrolling and juggling at the same time.


One can but respect the talent and tremendous effort involved.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 15, 2003 5:28 AM

Dean is clearly showing the potential to be the Henry Wallace of his era. He'll probably do less damage to hinself tonight if he throws out his foreign policy speech and simply reads from the Greater Los Angeles phone book.

Posted by: John at December 15, 2003 7:02 AM

If this were happening in March 2004 it would be one (gleeful) thing. My sense is that a Dean collapse before New Year's can only be good for the Democrats, especially those that would give me a heartburn: Leiberman, Gephardt, even Edwards (let alone Hillary). We all know that at their core all these guys would not move their National party any closer to the "GOP center of gravity", and would waffle and capitulate on every important issue after getting elected. And even if they do not get elected, their running would keep the GOP from finally achieving a legislative majority because they would avert a collapse down the ticket especially in the South and Plains/West. I think that the GOP should not go into battle without a nuanced strategy.

Posted by: MG at December 15, 2003 8:00 AM


Shut your eyes and try to imagine blacks headed to the polls to vote for Joe Lieberman.

Posted by: oj at December 15, 2003 8:19 AM

I have the same fear as MG - that this derails Dean and a more moderate Dem (Gephardt, Lieberman) gets the Dem nod. I still think Bush would beat these two but not as badly as Dean and therefore would have less of an impact on the Senate and House.
OJ - to your point - yes it would be interesting to see of the African-American vote still goes 90% Dem if Lieberman is at the top of the ticket.

Posted by: AWW at December 15, 2003 8:35 AM


Turnout would be even more interesting. And Dean's effort to woo the Arab vote would be out the window too.

Posted by: oj at December 15, 2003 8:39 AM

In my mind, there is no doubt Lieberman will get 90% of the Black vote. (10% is the speed of light in GOP-Black national politics.) The only question is whether it will be 90% of X% or X+2% (which may be the high-low range for Black turnout). The same may be said about the hard Left, especially if a Naderite emerges.

Which all goes to show that I am not saying that Lieberman (or Gephardt or Edwards) would beat GWB. However, I think they would avert the defining moment (which a Dean vs Bush election would afford) that could (a) bring the Midwest into the Red fold (crucial, as owning the South and the Desrt West is not yet quite enough) and (b) own enough of the Senate to actually get a more meaningful conservative agenda through. I think a Gephardt would make the Midwest competitive; and Edwards would make down tickets Southern candidates competitive. Lieberman is enough of a chameleon, that he could pick a liberal VP, and compete well in Gore states.

To me, failing to accomplish (a) and (b) would be very disappointing because:

on (a) I think capturing the MidWest must be at the core of GWB's compassionate conservatism, a strategy that has already traded-off quite a bit of the right end of the economic/markets policy spectrum. I want that pay back.

on (b) the hard Left has been able to block real change by an obstructionist policy which can only pay a price in the form of Red State senate seats (so far they are paying a price at a rate that will require a generation to correct). It is clear that the judiciary branch is hardly where any conservative (or even the American public, at large) ought to want it to be.

Posted by: MG at December 15, 2003 9:23 AM

If Dean collapses, where does the Angry Left go? Lieberman? Gephardt? Maybe it goes to Kucinich, who actually represents the Angry Left worldview; I've always thought it amusing that Dean's statements are significantly to the right of his rabid followers.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 15, 2003 12:57 PM

If Dean collapses, or is badly hurt by Lieberman on the war issue, the angry left will probably stay home and stay angry - it's what they do best.

Some could vote for Nader next fall, some might try to uplift Kucinich, but a large part will probably stay home and rant.

However, Al Sharpton should start printing new business cards. If he sought them, he would get more than Kucinich could. Moonbat Dennis can't compete with the thug in the borrowed suits.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 15, 2003 2:57 PM

Dean's grasp of foreign policy is approaching that of Carter's... to the point where it might be worthwhile to give him a job at the State Department just so you can ask him what to on every issue, and then do the opposite of what he recommends.

Posted by: MarkD at December 15, 2003 9:46 PM