December 23, 2003


Dean Rebuked for Statement Implying Brother Served in Military (Jodi Wilgoren, New York Times, 12/22/03)

Howard Dean came under criticism from an Iowa newspaper last weekend for an answer to a questionnaire in which he implied that his brother was serving in the military when he disappeared in Laos 29 years ago. His brother had been traveling in Southeast Asia as a tourist.

Asked by The Quad-City Times, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, to complete the sentence "My closest living relative in the armed services is," Dr. Dean wrote in August, "My brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead." . . .

"The way I read the question was that they wanted to know if I knew anything about the armed services from a personal level," he said. "I don't think it was inaccurate or misleading if anybody knew what the history was, and I assumed that most people knew what the history was. Anybody who wanted to write about this could have looked through the 23-year history to see that I've always acknowledged my brother's a civilian, was a civilian."

I think all politicians should adopt the position that a statement is not a lie if independent research would have proved it false.

Posted by David Cohen at December 23, 2003 10:31 AM

Howard really sounds more like Bill Clinton everyday. He's just makin' stuff up as he goes along. It is Clinton-like in that these are lies that are easily verifiable but also unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by: pchuck at December 23, 2003 10:52 AM

"I don't think it was inaccurate or misleading if anybody knew what the history was, and I assumed that most people knew what the history was."

That is either a breathtakingly arrogant assumption or breathtakingly inept spinning.

Posted by: M. at December 23, 2003 11:13 AM

I am becoming conviced that Dean is a dangerous demagogue.

Does he really believe that people in the Quad Cities area of Iowa were aware of his brother's history? He is so surrounded and enthralled by the worshipful Deaniacs, who accept every contorted explanation he offers as the gospel, that he is losing touch with reality.

My wife, a die-hard Democrat and an accomplished professional, knew next to nothing about Dean, let alone Dean's brother, until about 2 weeks ago.

Posted by: Thom at December 23, 2003 11:23 AM

No wonder Al Gore endorsed him.

I eagerly await Al Franken's next book, which should certainly star Howard Dean.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 23, 2003 11:27 AM

This is truly breath-taking in how Clintonesque he really is. Essentially, Dean seems to suggest that (for him) there are no inhibitions to lying. If the lie is too obvious, then it must have been a joke or something else (I guess); if the lie can make it through people's radar screen, then it becomes truth. What a deal. Can one of Dean's supporters on the board explain this one to me?

Posted by: MG at December 23, 2003 11:33 AM

In his defense, he does often speculate that his brother was on a CIA mission or something--why else would you be in Laos at that time?--but he certainly does seem to have felt a need to stretch that speculation into a lie.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2003 11:57 AM

OJ -- He goes back and forth on that, but the official campaign position seems to be that others in the family think his brother might have been a spy, but he has always denied it.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 23, 2003 12:05 PM

So how did he get re-elected so many times in Vermont? Didn't he lie then, or didn't anybody press him?

Steyn calls him a "mean-spirited" governor, but even he, so far as I know, does not say he was an habitual liar.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 23, 2003 2:26 PM

In Googling around in response to Harry's question (Dean became governor when, during his tenure as lieutenant governor, the Republican governor died), I found this website. If it wasn't for the future of civilization thing, politics would simply be the best entertainment around.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 23, 2003 4:03 PM


I'm surprised at you. As an attorney, you should know that Dean's position is already a well-accepted defense to a comnmon law claim of fraud. It's the "Animal House" defense. Remember that scene where, after Flounder's brother's car was wrecked on the road trip, Otter told him, "You f'ed up. You trusted us."

Besides, what did you expect Dean to do. His years in Aspen already having been exposed, he couldn't very well lie about his own military record.

Posted by: Your brother at December 23, 2003 4:36 PM

Or maybe he's trying to set up the Clinton Defense: "Hey, you knew I was a liar when you elected me."

Posted by: David Cohen at December 24, 2003 9:49 AM

Dean is just nasty, how is he gonna win this nomination again?, he's the best they got...

Posted by: neil at December 24, 2003 11:05 AM