Beinart on Dean vs. Bush

I’ve been wondering for a while about whether it will turn out to have been a mistake for Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire to have jettisoned Howard Dean in favor of the “more electable” John Kerry. Now Peter Beinart, writing in Time, has an essay that examines that notion in detail: If Howard Dean were the candidate.

If Dean were the nominee, flip-flops wouldn’t be the issue; Iraq would. The former Vermont Governor opposed the war from the start, and his rationale was as simple as Kerry’s was convoluted: Saddam was not a threat. Of course, Dean would have had other general-election vulnerabilities. Republicans would have branded him the second coming of peacenik George McGovern. But Dean could have retorted that he (unlike Kerry) backed the first Gulf War. They would have ridiculed his lack of foreign policy experience. But there’s an advantage to not having 20 years of Senate votes to defend, as Kerry has learned. (That’s part of the reason Governors usually make stronger presidential candidates than Senators.)

There’s lots more, and he makes a strong case.

6 Responses to “Beinart on Dean vs. Bush”

  1. rick pietz Says:

    I’m not sure it was the voters who truly did it. It appeared to me, as I watched the fiasco, that the democratic party had a hand in making ‘Dean’ un-electable, which even at the time was ridiculous. Prior to Dean, the democrats didn’t appear to exist, and now without Dean, the democrats don’t appear to exist again; at least they don’t appear to any kind of clear agenda or purpose.

    I didn’t particularly like Dean, but I liked him a whole lot better than either Kerry or Lieberman.

  2. Adam Says:

    Ditching Dean was a *huge* mistake. Of course, I’m a Dean supporter from way back, so take that with a grain of salt. But still, it seems pretty clear.

  3. Thomas Says:

    I didn’t want Kerry for the very reason mentioned above. Too much history, too easy to attack. Can’t say I liked Dean much. I really don’t know why, I liked what he had to say but he just seemed too odd to be elected. Why was Gore such a pussy?

  4. Eric Says:

    I guess I’m the only Kucinich supporter :P

  5. John F Says:

    There’s another point about Howard Dean that the Democratic Party has ignored — not just ignored but has failed to understand… Failed to APPLY. Something that gave Howard Dean’s campaign strength and enthusiasm unlike John Kerry’s:

    It’s the MESSAGE, stupid!

    It’s the MESSAGE that the candidate applied that caught people’s attention. It was the MESSAGE that “You Have the Power” and taking back America to go along with his politics that made Howard Dean appeal to people on the left AND the right (and there were Republicans in Howard’s fold. That much is certain)

    It’s the MESSAGE, stupid. Not the Middle! Between Albert Gore and John Kerry, both campaigns have lobbied for the middle once their opponents (Bill Bradley in 2000, nine others in 2004) were dispatched. They tried to be all things to all people instead of running on something that would appeal to a core group and pick up steam.

    It wasn’t the fact Howard Dean ran on ideals for Americans, but he had a clue what he wanted in change, showed people what that ideal was and the thought gathered steam. It gathered a following…

    If there was a national primary election, Dean have won the Presidential nomination because the likes fo the Democratic Leadership Foundation and others within the party would not have been able to throw a monkey in the works. If there had been one national primary, Dean having a message would have slaughtered the more-known Joe Lieberman who was running on being in the middle again.

    But of course, there isn’t… So that point is moot.

    When you have a message — be it on the left of right of the political spectrum, you pick up supporters because you show you are going to do something… Rally your base and then pick up the middle with the message – not with politics. Be it Regean’s Morning in America, Dubya’s “Compassionate Conservative” or Howard Dean’s “Take Back America” to go along with their politics. I’m not talking about catch phrases, people, as so much the image they invoked to go along with their political speeches.

    It’s the message — not the Middle. Howard Dean and Joe Trippi had a successful – if cumulating in failure — campaign because they ran on a message and they were able to stand by their politics (and they were better off for it). Dean’s message still appeals to me as it did last year….

    Kery’s running on “Not Bush” — i’ve seen it before (Florida, 2002 Election, Jeb Bush vs. Bill McBride) and that very well might end up being his reason for failing.

  6. rick pietz Says:

    Eric, I liked Kucinich. Just I knew he would never get elected, regardless of the value of his ideas.

    John, you are correct. Dean had a message, Kerry has none. The democratic party has none. Probably it’s because they can’t have a message that irritates the large donors, which means just about any message good for the average person.

    I will probably write in Kucinich on my ballot. I just can’t see voting for the one half or the other of the same machine.

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