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This Blog Endorses Dean for DNC Chair

So much for the election being over. Bush hasn't even been inaugurated yet, but the hottest position since the presidency is now up for grabs: the DNC chair. And Howard Dean is in the running.

This blog wholly and completely endorses him. After all, how much fun would the next four years be if the Democrats started doing some serious outreach? Instead, let's put a fellow in charge notable for his bridge-building abilities, the kind of gentle-touch necessary to convince those who might not already be on your side. Who can forget such respectful observations on life in the South as:

I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.

That one went down well not only in the South, but in the rank-and-file North as well, if I recall correctly. Stereotyping those below the Mason-Dixon line is a brilliant plan for bringing them over to your side. Then, of course, there's the man's idea of fine strategy: tell your voters what to care about:
"We have got to stop having our elections in the South based on race, guns, God and gays - and start having them based on jobs and health insurance and a foreign policy that's consistent with American values."

To which many a Southerner must have responded with something along the lines of, "What's this we bulls---, Mr. Vermont Governor?"

(Actually, Sen. Edwards attitude was pretty much along those lines, though I couldn't find his reponse to the comment itself.)

Or how about his patented charm, his big-tent philosophy meant to appeal to moderates who might, at one point, have voted for Bush, but wouldn't now?

"George Bush is not my neighbor."

(And who can forget the obvious?) Certainly four more years of this is just what's needed.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for Dean, for what he accomplished in the election. Besides having re-energized the Democratic base (for which they owe him), he was certainly responsible for the most innovative web campaign of the year. I really hope that Republican strategists are doing their best to absorb every strategic advantage they can from his example.

But Dean isn't the guy who's going to call Moveon.org to account when they go well over the top. He's not going to say, "Hey, look, maybe we ought to banish the word 'fascist' from our vocabulary for a few years." In short, as the Democratic Party spirals into a frenetic hatefest incapable of saying a single nice thing about Bush and convinced of the dark divinity of Karl Rove, he's not the guy who's going to fight the current.

The Republicans managed to marginalize ourselves through the Clinton Years because our message was the stunningly inspiring, "Clinton sucks." Bush won his first term through compassionate conservatism, and it was enough. The term was vapid and meaningless, but it had two advantages: it allowed him to capitalize on Clinton's (wholly unrelated) mistakes, and represented a "not not Clinton" idea. Frankly, it didn't matter what the idea was, the fact that it could be protrayed as something other anti-Clinton bile started repairing our fortunes.

Perhaps Dean will change his stripes, and we'll see a number of "Dean rethinks his strategy" stories. But frankly, it doesn't seem a likely threat, which is why this blog endorses Dean for DNC.


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» Blawg Roundup #2 from ambivalent imbroglio
Jeremy Richey writes a letter to Justice Breyer explaining why the honorable Justice should give him a job. [Read More]

» Blawg Roundup #2 from ambivalent imbroglio
Jeremy Richey writes a letter to Justice Breyer explaining why the honorable Justice should give him a job. [Read More]

» Blawg Roundup #2 from ambivalent imbroglio
Jeremy Richey writes a letter to Justice Breyer explaining why the honorable Justice should give him a job. [Read More]


Al Sharpton actually led the charge during the Rock the Vote debate; Edwards just got the "I am a bona fide Southerner" credit.
Just wondering: where exactly has the MoveOn crowd overreached? Because I remember the republicans running ads against Max Cleland, a vet that left 3 limbs in Vietnam, that compared him to Saddam Hussien and Osama bin Laden... I remember Rick Santorum comparing being gay to having sex with a dog. Trent Lott longing for the days of segregation... Grover Norquist comparing bipartisanship to date-rape... So I dunno... what rhetoric, exactly, is so out of the mainstream that Dean would have to go out of his way to reign in?
Mike: I think you'll find that the rhetoric you just used is pretty much what I'm talking about. I don't know the Max Cleland race well enough to comment, but Santorum didn't "compare being gay to having sex with a dog." If you're speaking of the same comment--I'm not sure, because you're paraphrasing, not quoting--then it was in the context of being unable to distinguish why the Constitution permits homosexual intercourse but not bestiality. That's not comparing the two acts as such, but rather pointing to the haziness of a jurisprudence that pretends to come up with a meaningful distinction. (While he said it badly, it's a point of view that I share: Lawrence provides little guidance for determining why, for instance, consensual adult incest can be banned, but homosexual sex cannot.) As for Trent Lott "longing for the days of segregation," that's hardly a reasonable interpretation of his commentary taken in context: Lott was, after all, making a comment at a friend's birthday party, and his comment didn't mention segregation, only Strom Thurmond. Believe it or not, it is possible for some people to mention the latter without actually meaning to invoke the former. But we can play the "your party says stupid things" game all day: after all, I'll readily admit that any of the comments above were ill-advised, very poorly stated, and subject to easy misinterpretation. Whatever: Lott's comments resulted in his removal from his position; Santorum's hasn't done him any big favors within the party. Dean is currently the one being nominated for a leadership position, not removed from one. If you're asking if I'd suggest Lott, Cleland, Norquist or Santorum be nominated to head the RNC, I'll give you a hearty no. But whatever: the Republicans and the Democrats aren't in the same position at the moment. The DNC is currently having to make its way back from electoral defeat, and will most definitely need to build a broader church in order to do so. Discussions of "digital brownshirts", hosting competitions in which entries compare your opponent to Hitler... it's worth the DNC reining these is, even if the Republicans are making the same errors.
Well said - though I continue to disagree... You see, there was a time in which Republicans were the marginal party. 11 years ago Dems held sway in the Senate, House and Executive. It was only after Republicans ceded leadership to their Whip, Newt Gingrich - a strident and radical legislator with revolutionary ideas in terms of how governmental affairs should be conducted - that the "Republican Revolution" swept the '94 elections. They have steadily increased in strength since, failing only in the '96 election when they fielded a curmudgeonly stoic against one of the most naturaly charismatic politicians of our time in the presidential election. All the while, their rhetoric has grown increasingly polarizing. "You are either with us or with the terrorists" is not limited to defining the contours of the War On Terror; it can just as easily be used to define politics as waged by Republicans. So yes... I also heartily endorse Dean. It is clear to me that over the course of the last 12 years - through Clintonian triangulation and Dem appeasement and complicity with regards to tax cuts, war in Iraq and the undermining of our constitution, that "bipartisinship is date rape". And we Dems keep going back for more. It's time we learn the Gingrich lesson and live or die for our beliefs. You know, I believe the results of the last presidential election further my point. Bush won - but not because people think he's done a bang-up job on or economy. Nobody was effusive in their praise over his handling of the war in Iraq or his incompetence in Tora Bora... His environmental record didn't drive many to the polls and even he has admitted that "Bring it on" and "Old-Europe" rhetoric was amatuer diplomacy. So what did get him elected? I'd submit that the perception that he was the candidate of moral clarity (no gay marraige; turkey for the troops in Iraq; standing by all Rumfield et al; all the God rhetorical flourishes) whereas Kerry was seen as a moral windsock incapable of standing for any base principal.
Also wanted to reply a little bit more to your specific comments. With regards to Santorum and the minute (though meaningful to a lawyer) shadings of meaning within his comments, it should be clear to you that most people are not lawyers... that many of the people his comments were directed at absolutely believed that homosexual sex is analagous to sex with animals. In that regard, Santorum, I am quite convinced, was not appealing to America's greatness. He was, contrarily, appealing to some American's most base sentiments. Lott specifically said that if Thurmond had won his election - an election in which he ran as a Dixiecrat with the explicit agenda of segregation - "we would not have had all these problems over all these years". Again, his comment had more to do with the agenda than the man - it could be interpreted no other way. (I will concede that Lott may not have "meant" it that way, but the comment stands on its merits - or, in this case, lack thereof). But you are right - we can play the "but your side said... [indefensible]" all day long. That isn't my wish. What I will point to in defense of Dean, however is this: even his most strident rhetoric is directed at bringing Americans together. His confederate flag comment was about reaching out, not seperating. I don't remember his comment about GWB not being his neighbor, but I'd bet a dollar to donuts that the context was about Bush winning by dividing this country.
Mike: That does not mean that somewhere between Kerry and Dean the truth doesn't lie. I'm not saying that Dean's passion is misplaced. Kerry was a miserable candidate precisely because of what you point out: he seemed to stand for nothing in particular beyond the desire to become president, and those who supported him mainly seemed to do so because they wanted Bush out of office. But Dean is also a mistake. You're right, he's passionate, but he misses a key element that Gingrich had, at least in his early days: the ability to disagree with people without talking down to them. (He later started flubbing this, much to his detriment.) Look back at what you're saying: the Republican's rhetoric has been more polarizing? Certainly this is true in comparison to 1994. It's also misleading to the point of uselessness, because polarizing rhetoric has been common on the edges of both parties. In a year of Farenheit 9/11, MoveOn.org, and frequent comparisons between Bush and Hitler (by a federal judge at the ACS, no less), the Democratic Party is hardly playing by Marquess of Queensberry Rules. Rather, the violence of political debate has notched upwards since 1994 mainly because all of government is now "in play," as it were: Democrats hope to actually take the House back someday, while Republicans are no longer resigned to permanent minority status. (Further, the spectrum of commentary is wider, which has allowed less restrained voices to be heard.) But where you see the stridency as being the cause of such Republican ascendency as there is, I think you're in the land of post hoc ergo propter hoc. While it's been very good at getting the base to the polls--and the Democratic base wasn't exactly absent last November--getting out the base just isn't enough to drive one over that 50% baseline. And for that, the rhetoric commonly employed by the Democrats just isn't helpful. Take, for instance, your last paragraph: "Bush's incompetence at Tora Bora." That's a matter of faith among hard-core Democrats, but a moderate may look at it as an honest mistake, or at least a likely outcome: capture of Bin Laden was never guaranteed. Further, a moderate who voted for Bush in the last election--exactly they type of voter that Democrats have to capture in 2006 and 2008--is likely to be at least mildly put off by your suggestion that they voted in an incompetent last time. Is this really an effective tactic? To a great degree, politics in an information age is a matter of knowing where the electorate cleaves on issues, and building coalitions sufficient to put one's party over the top. After all, the Presidency at the very least is a winner-takes-all proposition: one has no more or less mandate with a 80% victory than a 51% one. Let's put it this way: if a Democratic consultant writes a book called What's the Matter With Kansas?, it behooves the DNC to respond, "Absolutely nothing, and we'd like your votes, please." Dean is not the man to do that, especially if his method of reaching out is to talk about confederate flags and pickup trucks. You are correct, of course, when you point out that Republicans make the same mistakes--but we seem to be doing it much less often, and we've won when we haven't been doing it on defense. You are also correct when you say that Dean's rhetoric is "aimed at bringing Americans together," to the extent that the statement has any meaning. He is certainly not actually targetting conservative like myself, for instance. Nevertheless, as the quotations above indicate, Dean's intent is not well-matched by his actual effect, which is to inspire the base in a manner that can be alienating to constituencies that the Democratic Party shouldn't abandon. I agree that Democrats should put their beliefs forward more strongly, and that the ideal candidate would do that. But we disagree in thinking that Dean does this in such a way as to make for effective outreach. I suppose that you'd be happy for Democrats to live or die by their beliefs. Me, I'm rather partial to living for them, and behaving in such a way that dying for one's beliefs aren't necessary.
The difficulty with politics: As I converse more often with those of a different political persuasion, it has become evident to me that this is really hard work. It isn't because those standing across the ideological divide are "evil", "willfully ignorant" or in any way morally inferior; instead I am coming to realize that the divide is self-perpetuating because the lens through which we explore the world often determines the kaliedescope we choose to look through. Your last post, coupled with your Rathergate post below, spawned this observation. At some point I think it would be interesting to have a conversation that would seek to determine methods that could be used to bring intelligent people together for the common purpose of identifying bias-free truths (and truth sources)that can be used as bedrock starting points for ideological conversations. Anyway... that was a rant. By way of response, let me begin with, "he misses a key element that Gingrich had, at least in his early days: the ability to disagree with people without talking down to them". "You have the power!!" was Howard Dean's most potent rallying cry. He finished every speech with it. His internet driven campaign, to his supporters, was about listening to the people. I personally wrote an email with a suggestion for using technology and information found in FEC databases to develop potent campaign commercials for use in the general election. The email was forwarded to a volunteer consultant and a video producer. Plans were drawn up. Each cog in the machine was sourced from "the grass roots". Our ideas were considered and used. As a result, we really felt that "We had the power". I fail to see how Dean was the schoolmarm you portray him to be. But that could be due to our respective kaliedescopes. To address your specific concern, the confederate flag comment, I'd note that he was in a primary talking to a northern audience about why he should be the candidate. His comment, in context, was that Dems should have a southern strategy. He didn't want to concede a single vote. Many African-Americans in Chicago would have written off a "heritage" voter in South Carolina. As Howard Dean was correct in pointing out, there are plenty of pick-up driving gun lovers in Georgia that don't have health care and can't find a job. And once you are elected president, you are president of the United States - you can't pick and choose your constituents. Next you comment that, "polarizing rhetoric has been common on the edges of both parties". My response is that the edge of the Republican party is really exemplified by the north-east moderates. People like Burton from Indiana, who once shot a pumpkin in his back yard in order to simulate the "murder" of Vince Foster, now chair House committees. We are once again arguing over evolution and its place in the classroom. We are in a real debate over curtailing the Social Security program. We've disengaged from the Israel/Palestine negotiations - even as an American citizen was purposely killed by an Israeli bulldozer. In almost every way this country has lurched to the right and, as I noted earlier, the Democratic party has surfed that wave. Bush's tax cuts could not have passed without Dem help. The war resolution could have been stopped - Dems controlled the Senate. Ditto for any number of issues over the last 24 years(I know I said 12 years earlier, but upon further reflection, this started with Reagan). I've much more to say, but the clock keeps ticking. I've got to work in the morning (for a Columbia alumni, Assemblyman Ryan Karben). I hope to get my Harvard acceptance soon (though pray would be a better word than hope) so I can talk down to him about having graduated from a chump law school... More likely, I'll end up at either Penn or Cornell - the only other schools to which I've applied. So aside from the politics, thanks for the blog - it's a great resource for us wannabe law school students...
"In a year of Farenheit 9/11, MoveOn.org, and frequent comparisons between Bush and Hitler (by a federal judge at the ACS, no less), the Democratic Party is hardly playing by Marquess of Queensberry Rules." Well, yes, we had that in-your-face brand of partisanship this past year. But what have we had in years previous? The answer: Republicans absolutely demonizing democrats and democrats, in a craven and cowardly fashion, apologizing for being democrats while they accede to the republican agenda. At this point, I think it is appropriate to point out what I mean by "republican agenda" - because it may not be what you think. "Social issues" have been mostly ignored, except to the extent that they are effective in trolling for votes. Fox continues to run the raciest shows on TV - even after Janet's teet... Abortion is up under Bush - after falling year after year under Clinton. Republicans talked a lot about gay marraige, and even done some legislative work on it, but that's the exception rather than the rule. TV is as violent as ever, porn has exploded (I don't fault anyone for that - the internet will do what it does - you can't put the genie back in the bottle) and sloth, greed and gluttony seem prevalent as ever. On the other hand, the shift toward a Harding style plutocracy has been spectacular. We've seen a quantum shift in the tax burden towards those at the bottem of the ladder. When you consider property and sales tax increases at the local level, the trend is even more pronounced. Include increased insurance rates, co-pays, and deductables, college tuitions, bank fees, credit card interest rates, tolls, rents, user fees and vice taxes and you really begin to realize the extent of the drift. Further consider the other side of the coin: real wages have decreased, the minimum wage purchases less today than it did in 1973, the dramatic paring of services all while people work longer hours and produce more... well, it's little wonder that the rich are getting richer (and more powerful) while the middle class and the poor feel an increasingly vise-like pinch. And that is what I mean by the "republican agenda". I just didn't want the term to be confused with "pro-family" or any other such fluff. "Further, a moderate who voted for Bush in the last election--exactly they type of voter that Democrats have to capture in 2006 and 2008--is likely to be at least mildly put off by your suggestion that they voted in an incompetent last time. Is this really an effective tactic?" Wrong framing. I think there are a lot of ways to get elected. You are right: explaining to voters that they are a bunch of ignorant dunderheads isn't one of them. Instead Dems simply need to point out that we entrust our president with a lot. When he takes that trust and explodes the deficit (and national debt), wages war incompetently and refuses to change course once his mistakes are apparent, when kids are dead that should be alive, when he refuses to hold anyone accountable for their incompetence, when we are worse off than we were when he took office... well, he has betrayed our trust. It's time to take our country back. Which, coincidentally, was Howard Dean's other message. Framed that way, we aren't impugning anyone's intelligence. We accept that people might have had different ideas with regards to the vision candidates have had but results still matter. Personal note: What I have trouble accepting is that people can look at the fruits of the last four years and believe that this administration has been a competent steward of the public good. By what measure? You see, I think you will even agree with me that this president was re-elected on intangibles more than any significant record of accomplishments. People just like the christain cowboy. As previously noted, people have received next to nothing in the way of social issue payoffs - and they've been horribly screwed in terms of lifestyle - they are forced to work harder for less than ever... So tell me again why Kansans voted for him. Your analysis, that we should pretend there is nothing wrong with Kansas, just doesn't wash with me. The problem with Kansans is that they have no metrics to use in terms of measuring their progress in achieving their goals. Finally, I've painted myself into the corner you probably knew I would. I gotta think that the reason Bush wins middle America is the simplicity of the people. Are you seriously going to tell me that these people knew that abortion was up under Bush? That he submitted a budget that cut combat pay? I'm pretty sure you must have seen the study that demonstrated that the more you watched the splooshy Fox News Channel, the less factual knowledge you were likely to have about the war. You were more likely to believe that we had found WMD, Saddam was responsible for 9/11 and had close links with Al Qaeda and that he was a major sponsor of terror. Now lest you think I believe the coasts are bastions of political wisdom and knowledge, let me make clear that I do not. I went to the NYC war protest in February 2003. I was surrounded by more ignorant people than I've ever seen in one place (but then again, I've never been to a Toby Kieth concert). The people on my side aren't any brighter than the people on your side. It just happens to be the case that at this point in history the people on my side are, despite themselves, choosing correctly. The people on your side, poor ignorant saps that they are, are choosing incorrectly and hurting themselves because of it. So back to the point of the conversation: how do dems win? I think we need to shout the truth, loudly flog the conservative media (can you name a liberal cable tv news show host? because I can name about 10 conservatives), expand our information dissemination machine, develop liberal talk radio, develop a nationwide strategy (conceding the south was one of Democratic party's biggest mistakes over the last 20 years), and continue to register new voters. It's a tough road to hoe, but with perserverance, we'll get there...
Ah, Mike. Reading those last five paragraphs, it becomes clear to me both (a) why you support Dean, and (b) why the man is a walking disaster. If the truth you hold in your heart is that your fellow man is a bewildered fool, he's not going to follow you. If you believe the key to success is to hide that fact, you will fail every time the truth slips out. In the end, that's what did Dean in. Please note, for the record, that anything you state above with "I assume that you would agree" is more a sign of your character than any reflection of my actual opinion.
Oh, jeez... can we have at least a little bit of honesty please? I shouldn't have to remind you of where you are or the requisites for getting there. Somebody has to be in the top 1 or 2 percent in terms of intelligence. Why would you pretend otherwise? Pretending - because that is what it is - that the majority of Americans aren't ignorant sheep is merely posing on your part. At least I'm honest enough to speak the obvious truth. Perhaps that's the difference between donkeys and elephants. Donkeys just haven't found an effective way of herding sheep yet.
"If the truth you hold in your heart is that your fellow man is a bewildered fool, he's not going to follow you. If you believe the key to success is to hide that fact, you will fail every time the truth slips out. In the end, that's what did Dean in." More: I don't think most people are cognizant enough to be bewildered. They are too busy filling up the gas tank of their SUV so they can take the kids to their next soccer practice, pick up a Boston Chicken dinner for the family and relax in front of American Idol and Fox News for an hour or so before getting to bed in order to do it all over again the next day. But ya know, as we've noted before, 1/2 the population is going to be of below average intelligence. I go to RPI - an engineering school - where, presumably, almost all the people are of above average intelligence. And let me tell you - some of the poorly formed thoughts that I hear on a daily basis are enough to make one lose hope for the future of humanity. So my point is that even above average intelligence is no great shakes. So... where's that leave me? Well, there are intelligent people on each side of the political divide. There are stupid people on each side. I don't think your intelligence has a lot to do with which side you come down on. But, a sense of curiosity, a willingness to examine points of view other than your own, a thoughtful nature - well, that does lead one to liberalism. You don't hear liberals asking why our political enemies "hate America"; instead, we deconstruct their ideas and confirm (mostly for our own piece of mind) their inferiority. When we are wrong, we change our mind. That is a sign of intellectual maturity that you just don't see amongst the conservative crowd. As a result of liberal intellectual rigor and the habit of constantly testing our ideas, we feel pretty confident that we are on pretty solid ground. Our political rivals, we feel, must be intellectually dishonest. To the extent that they are being dishonest - while attracting "dittoheads" - well, it's easy for me to make the leap and say that your average republican is ignorant and easily seduced by the siren song sung by the Hannity's, Limbaugh's and O'Reilly's. Here is a test of my theory... I'd like to know when the last time you spent a 1/2 hour at Mediamatters.org? How 'bout dailykos.com? or atrios.blogspot.com? Because I spend plenty of time watching and listening to O'Reilly, Hannity and Rush... I read the WSJ and the Economist. I seek out blogs like yours. Most people don't challenge their own views. Most people (about 51%) are content hearing their own thoughts drilled into them over and over again by Fox News and the rest of the conservative media. You just can't tell me that is good for America... Germany and Japan were at one time mono-think nations... it's dangerous.
I was tempted to post on this when it first appeared, but didn't. I'll try and keep this short I don't know the Max Cleland race well enough to comment, but Santorum didn't "compare being gay to having sex with a dog." Well he did, regardless of where he put the commas in the sentence he did and his audience heard it, I've just checked the quote. Specifically his point was that if you legitimised gay marriage the effect on the institution of marriage would be the same as if your legitimised marrying your dog(and screwing it). Further MoveOn as an organisation didn't claim Bush was a fascist or make the comparison which is what you have just accused them of. In both instances you're being deliberately disingenious and to say what Boxer should have said - I am questioning your integrity on this one. As for the patronising your fellow men argument, it's cute, but bullshit. Had 2% of Americans switched their minds (or even fewer Ohians) someone like us would be talking about how fear tactics and appeals to vote for the more godly party are never going to make people follow you.
Martin, Having "checked the quote," do you think you might link to it? As for what his audience heard, I'm afraid I'm singularly unqualified to comment. I know it's a bit traditional, but I prefer to talk about what people said, rather than what I think some subset of the population--particular one to which I do not belong--heard. (Perhaps how listeners reacted, if I can find evidence thereof, but what they thought? Sorry.) As for "questioning my integrity": you and I simply disagree on this. Did MoveOn as an organization call Bush a fascist? No, it ran a headline article for weeks in which Al Gore--not, I admit, technically part of MoveOn--called various Bush supporters "brownshirts." And they didn't bother to check before posting advertisements of Bush morphing into Hitler--what you consider acceptable, but most legal types might well describe as negligent. I'm sorry, but defending MoveOn because it's a forum for bile rather than a source thereof seems a rather slender reed for one who wishes to talk about integrity. Finally, it should be noted that two percent of Americans did not switch their mind. On the other hand, Republicans lost ground in the House and ground in the Senate during the Clinton years, when we dissolved into apopletic fury over anything done by William Jefferson Clinton. It's hardly unreasonable to see a link there.
Having "checked the quote," do you think you might link to it? What, you haven't read it? I believe Google have it somewhere...
"I'm sorry, but defending MoveOn because it's a forum for bile rather than a source thereof seems a rather slender reed for one who wishes to talk about integrity" To write a post like this one based on satire and mockery and then complain about negative messages - well I'm sure you can see the irony here. Your endorsement is source of bile, I'm sure you think it's funny (we'll disagree) but surely you can also see that it's partisan, viscious, unreasonable and spitefull. Not that partisan, viscious, unreasonable and spitefull things can't be worthwhile or funny - hell much great humour is - but it's a little more honest if you know you're doing it.
Oh, come now, Martin. Certainly you can distinguish between tasteful and tasteless satire? There is a big difference between satirically endorsing an opponent by pointing out that he'd be good for your party and calling him a brownshirt. There's a distinction--and none too subtle--between mocking an opponent's errors and calling him or his party stupid. There is a difference between disapproval, or even disdain, and bile.

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