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Inability to understand the War on Terror may spell Deanís end
Union Leader ^ | 12/19/03 | CLIFFORD MAY

Posted on 12/19/2003 2:31:47 AM PST by kattracks

THE CURRENT issue of National Review carries a photograph of a maniacally snarling Howard Dean. “Please,” reads the headline, “nominate this man.”

National Review is smart, sassy and conservative, and — from a strictly partisan Republican perspective — probably correct. It’s not that most GOP strategists believe Dean will be easy for President Bush to beat. Rather, they believe he will be a weaker contender than the other serious Democratic candidates.

But partisanship aside and patriotism front-and-center, Republicans should be rooting for a nominee who will give Bush a tougher contest. Why wish for trouble? Because the United States can ill afford to risk electing a President who fails to understand that we are engaged in a real and perilous world war, with its bloodiest front in Iraq. The next President, be he Republican or Democrat, must grasp that there can be no retreat from this conflict, no return to the pre-9/11 illusion that Islamist totalitarian terrorism is merely an annoyance or, worse, the result of grievances that can be appeased.

Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman get that. Dr. Dean does not. Nor, it appears, does Al Gore. Endorsing Dean just days before the capture of Saddam Hussein, Gore said of America’s intervention in Iraq: “Our nation in its 200-year history has never made a worse foreign policy mistake.”

Is it possible Al Gore sincerely believes that liberating Iraqis from a mass murderer who ran secret WMD programs, trained terrorists and swore to exact revenge against America was worse than, say, losing in Vietnam, or not preventing genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia or, for that matter, failing to aggressively pursue terrorists during the eight years he worked in the White House? (And how about the Mexican-American War — which Emerson and Thoreau protested?) There’s also this to consider: From a strictly partisan Democratic perspective, an anti-war candidate wins in November 2004 only if America is, by then, pretty clearly losing in Iraq and elsewhere. In other words, choosing an anti-war nominee puts Democrats in the awkward position of betting on American failure.

By contrast, a candidate who essentially agrees with Bush on prosecuting the war against terrorists and tyrants — even if he’s critical of how Bush is going about it — is a candidate who takes the issue off the table. It’s a basic rule of politics: Whenever two candidates agree on an issue, there’s no debate on that issue, so the contest shifts to other issues. In this instance, the debate would shift from national security — where Republicans have long had a substantial, poll-measured advantage — to such issues as the economy, the environment, health care and education, where Democrats are stronger.

Some Democrats see all this clearly. Sen. Zell Miller says in his new book, “A National Party No More,” that Democrats now pandering to the Left are “exacerbating the difficulties of a nation at war. . . . Howard Dean, while not alone, is the worst offender.”

Will Marshall, head of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank, has said that in 2004, his party’s candidate must be a “Blair Democrat,” one who — like British Prime Minister Tony Blair — favors a national security policy consistent with “the party’s great internationalists: Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.”

Marshall has warned that Dean’s arguments, by contrast, “echo those of Henry Wallace and George McGovern.” Not only don’t they represent the beliefs of most voters, he says, they don’t even represent a majority within the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, Dean is today the clear front-runner for his party’s nomination at least in part because his passionate supporters have “disproportionate influence” in the early caucuses and primaries.

Lawrence F. Kaplan, a senior editor at The New Republic — a smart, sassy and liberal magazine — goes even further, calling Dean “an angry leftist with bad ideas” whose advisers are working overtime to turn him into “an angry centrist with no ideas.”

So far, the effort has not paid off. In his first major foreign policy speech on Monday, Dean asserted that “the capture of Saddam has not made America safer.” That inspired Lieberman to finally start throwing some hard right hooks.

“If he truly believes the capture of this evil man has not made America safer, then Howard Dean has put himself in his own spider hole of denial,” Lieberman said. “I fear that the American people will wonder if they will be safer with him as President.” Lieberman added: “Howard Dean hardly talks about the war on terrorism. . . . The American people are not going to elect someone who doesn’t want to fight terrorism.”

There is still time for Democrats who agree with that prediction to switch horses. But I bet Democrats won’t take my advice. I bet they’ll take the advice of National Review instead.

Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.



TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 2004; cliffordmay; dean; howarddean; lostdems

1 posted on 12/19/2003 2:31:48 AM PST by kattracks
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To: kattracks
if Dean is nominated, will Lieberman endorse him over Bush?
2 posted on 12/19/2003 2:46:34 AM PST by arielb
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To: arielb
No way, too much blood has been spilled. The Gore endorsement of Dean made it impossible.

Zell Miller is retiring, so he has nothing to lose by endorsing Bush.

If Joe Lieberman desires a continued career as a Democrat, endorsing Bush would be political suicide. He would have to become a Republican, which might be a smart move for him anyway.

It's too bad for the Dems. Lieberman is clearly the most credible candidate and would put up the toughest opposition to Bush.
3 posted on 12/19/2003 3:12:21 AM PST by oblomov
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To: kattracks
Somehow, despite the fact that I liked this article, the term "Democratic think tank" sounds like an oxymoron.
4 posted on 12/19/2003 4:14:17 AM PST by alwaysconservative (The only bad thing about liberal emperors wearing no clothes is their personal hygiene is so bad.)
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To: oblomov
Lieberman is clearly the most credible candidate and would put up the toughest opposition to Bush.

If a guy who did his level best to steal the votes of military personnel is the most credible candidate the Dems have...

5 posted on 12/19/2003 4:16:10 AM PST by mewzilla
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To: kattracks
bump
6 posted on 12/19/2003 5:44:35 AM PST by jonno
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To: mewzilla
Lieberman not only conspired w/Gore not to count the military votes, he denied his own former core beliefs...all in a pursuit for a personal power job. An ignominious character flaw and a Judas kiss-off to the American people IMO.
7 posted on 12/19/2003 5:59:30 AM PST by Carolinamom
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To: oblomov
It's too bad for the Dems. Lieberman is clearly the most credible candidate and would put up the toughest opposition to Bush.

I've always thought likewise. The dems are in a tough position--if they do the right thing and nominate Lieberman, Nader steps in and takes the Deanies (if Dean doesn't go independent). Regardless of who wins the nomination, the media will step in and paint him (her?) as the savior of the nation, even if they have to hold their noses. Party uber alles.

8 posted on 12/19/2003 6:01:46 AM PST by randog (Everything works great 'til the current flows.)
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To: randog
They wouldn't do that for Lieberman; the media is far too anti-semitic not to paint him as some sort of freak.
9 posted on 12/19/2003 6:51:01 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Federal judiciary is a terrorist organization)
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To: kattracks
Inability to understand the War on Terror .


Repeat after me.....

10 posted on 12/19/2003 7:00:42 AM PST by prognostigaator
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To: kattracks
Some Democrats see all this clearly. Sen. Zell Miller says in his new book, “A National Party No More,” that Democrats now pandering to the Left are “exacerbating the difficulties of a nation at war. . . . Howard Dean, while not alone, is the worst offender.”

Hmmmmm.

Let's just suppose, by some strange occurrence, a deadlocked Democratic convention chose Zell Miller to be their candidate.

What would happen then? Could he be "a contenduh"....?

Cheers!
- John

11 posted on 12/19/2003 7:28:40 AM PST by Fishrrman
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To: kattracks
Can someone post that picture. I saw one not too long ago and thought: All the RNC or Bush campaign has to do is put this picture on the air without any audio--and Dean's goose is cooked.

Would that be against the Supreme Courts new vision of the Constitutional right to criticize candidates, I wonder?
12 posted on 12/19/2003 1:40:04 PM PST by wildbill
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To: thoughtomator
"the media is far too anti-semitic..."

Anti-Semitic or anti-Israel?

13 posted on 12/21/2003 11:58:07 PM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: oblomov
Lieberman threw what little credibility he had away in 2000 when he changed all of his major positions to plea to speical interest facists in the Dem party.
14 posted on 12/22/2003 12:01:35 AM PST by Fledermaus (Fascists, Totalitarians, Baathists, Communists, Socialists, Democrats - what's the difference?)
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To: billorites
There's no difference between anti-semitic and anti-Israel. Anyone who is anti-Israel and claims not to be anti-semitic is lying either to you or to themselves.
15 posted on 12/22/2003 12:02:57 AM PST by thoughtomator (The United Nations is a terrorist organization)
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To: oblomov
It's too bad for the Dems. Lieberman is clearly the most credible candidate and would put up the toughest opposition to Bush.

The hard left, which any Democrat would need in order to win, would stay home or vote for Nader. And no one else would be particularly excited. People aren't going to jump at the chance to vote for somebody who agrees with the guy we already have on the dominant issue of the day.

16 posted on 12/22/2003 1:02:52 AM PST by MattAMiller (Saddam has been brought to justice in my name. How about yours?)
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