More on Howard Dean – "I was against the war, but I wasn't a protester."
My Dean rant continues, as I attempt to wake up the Amerisheep to who Dean really is. Read on. At this point, I'd almost vote for Kerry instead, since at least Kerry is up front about being right of center, about supporting Bush et al. But the likes of Dean try to trick everyone, and that's even worse.
As it is I'm voting Green. Hopefully Nader will run again. In CA, a recent poll of potential candidates in the governor recall election also put Green Party's Peter Camejo neck and neck with the most likely Republican candidate, even with ALL the newspapers ignoring Camejo's candidacy!
More on Howard Dean - "I was against the war, but I wasn't a protester."
Even so-called liberal Howard Dean is diving toward the political center.
By Norman Solomon
Dean is already sending a message to his announced supporters among peace and social-justice advocates: Thanks, suckers.
Usually, major-party candidates wait until they have a lock on the presidential nomination before diving to the center. Eager to avoid being hammered by the national press corps for supposed liberalism, Dean hasn't bothered to wait.
Dean's reiteration of his opposition to the war in Iraq, which has motored his campaign thus far, was noteworthy for his newly minted opposition to the Bush doctrine of "preventive war" -- given that he'd endorsed the concept in a speech just a few months ago.
. . . "I said I was going to tone down my criticism of the president once the war began," Dean explained as he made his way from a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the posh Sambuca restaurant to a private fundraiser for his presidential campaign. "I'm not gonna change my policy. I support the troops but I haven't changed my views on the policy."
Wearing a blue pinstripe suit, with a CBS Evening News crew clip-on microphone adjacent to an American flag lapel pin, Dean was then asked if the presumably antiwar crowd wouldn't enjoy hearing from a credible Democratic candidate who -- unlike his war-supporting Democratic rivals Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, or somewhat more nuanced, less gung-ho supporters like Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina -- had carved out a firm antiwar stance? Dean politely disagreed.
"Most of the people I know who are against the war don't want to talk about it anymore," Dean said. Really?
Dean also raised concerns on the prospect of war with Iraq, stating that President Bush must show the American people proof that Saddam Hussein has nuclear or biological weapons and the means to deliver them, and he must make it clear that American troops could be on the ground there for 10 years.
Elections analyst Stuart Rothenberg, who writes a column for "Roll Call," related an exchange that he had with Dean during a meeting with the paper's editorial board in January.
"I asked him about gay rights and civil unions and his commitment to it, about how he always talks about it as a moral principle on which he has staked his reputation and doesn't care about the political ramification," Rothenberg said. "I said, 'If that's the case and you use it as an example of why you are different, why did you sign [the civil unions] bill in cover of darkness with no public event?' I told him a Democrat from Vermont had told me that. And he turned his body halfway around as if he were reaching back to throw a fastball, and he yelled 'That's bull----! Nobody from Vermont said that. Nobody from Vermont told you that.'"
. . . Dean comes from money -- his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were investment bankers; he summered in Sag Harbor, part of the Long Island playground that includes the Hamptons, and went to Yale. During the Vietnam War, he received a medical deferment from the draft for an unfused vertebra in his back and moved to Vermont in 1978 for his medical residency. Entering politics there was relatively easy.
. . . He insisted on balancing the budget above all else. He went from being against the death penalty to supporting it in limited cases. He refused to fund social programs without making sure the state could pay its bills first.
"His being called a liberal is one of the great white lies of the campaign," said Tom Salmon, a fellow Democrat and governor of Vermont for two terms during the Nixon-Ford era. "He's a rock-solid fiscal conservative," Salmon said, "and a liberal on key social issues. But we're talking key issues."
. . . Dean says he doesn't mind being called a liberal and welcomes progressives to the campaign. ("I'd be delighted if the Greens supported me!") But he chuckles at the liberal label, considering that "I am probably the most conservative of the candidates when it comes to gun control." It's a states issue, he says, and his state, with its low crime rate, doesn't need it.
"I think it's pathetic that I'm considered the left-wing liberal," Dean said. "It shows just how far to the right this country has lurched."
* On gay marriage: Dean, whose state recognized gay civil unions during his tenure and portrays himself as the most outspoken of candidates on this issue, hedged when asked whether if he would, as president, seek to recognize licenses for gay couples married in Canada, which just began to recognize such unions. At first he launched into a long, windy answer about how the real issue is not gay marriage but equal rights.
But when pressed by Russert whether he would seek to recognize those legally married in Canada, he said: "I can't answer that question because it's a legal question, but I can tell you what I will definitely do. I will definitely make sure they have exactly the same rights as married people, which is what we've done in Vermont. I can't tell you about the marriage question. I think the answer probably is they are legally entitled to be recognized, but I don't without--I'm not a lawyer and I don't know the answer to that."
It remains unclear why Dean can't answer a "legal question." Perhaps he will clarify later.
* On the death penalty: Asked where he stood now on the death penalty, Dean explained how his opinion shifted from opposition to support for the ultimate penalty. Then he launched into a soliloquy that seemed to make the case against the death penalty before concluding: "And thirdly, I don't believe the death penalty is a deterrent, but I think there may be one instance where just possibly it could be and that's the shooting of a police officer. If you're about to pull a trigger on a guy who's in uniform and you know that you're going to get the death penalty and if you don't pull the trigger something different will happen, maybe that might save the police officer's life. The only three instances that I support the death penalty are, one, murder of a child, two, a mass murder like a terrorist and, three, the shooting of a police officer."
There's nothing wrong with having conflicted opinions about an issue as emotional as the death penalty. But Dean's answer seemed to come off somehow as politically calculated to neither offend voters on the right or left.
* On military defense and Iraq: Dean, who has argued that the military is understaffed in Iraq, was asked a series of questions about the military. The exchange was too precious to paraphrase:
Russert: "Let's talk about the military budget. How many men and women would you have on active duty?"
Dean: "I can't answer that question. And I don't know what the answer is. I can tell you one thing, though. We need more troops in Afghanistan. We need more troops in Iraq now.... And what I would do in Iraq now is bring in NATO and bring in the United Nations, because our troops on the ground deserve better support than they're getting."
Russert: "But how many troops--how many men and women do we now have on active duty?"
Dean: "I can't tell you the answer to that either. It's ..."
Russert: "But as commander in chief, you should know that."
Dean: "As someone who's running in the Democratic Party primary, I know that it's somewhere in the neighborhood of one to two million people, but I don't know the exact number, and I don't think I need to know that to run in the Democratic Party primary."
Russert: "How many troops would you have in Iraq?"
Dean: "More than we have now. My understanding is we have in the neighborhood of 135,000 troops. I can't tell you exactly how many it takes."
The exchange went on an on, with Dean expressing a mixture of defensiveness and testiness. Some may argue that Russert was baiting Dean. But Russert's interviewing tactics in this case were valid. If a candidate is going to take a position like the one he was taking, he had better be ready with the facts.
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