Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

December 30, 2003

by J

Double Standard, Applied

As ranted about yesterday, the Kool Kids are whining again about a recent statement by Dean. Here's what he was quoted saying by Jodi Wilgoren (who's got her own nasty snide tone to the coverage she's done, resulting in a weblog devoted to monitoring her reporting - Wilgoren Watch) in the Times:
Dr. Dean also implied that many of his supporters, particularly young people, might stay home in November if another Democrat's name ends up on the ballot. [wouldn't it be nice to know the actual question that was asked?]

"I don't know where they're going to go, but they're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician," he said.

Though Dr. Dean has repeatedly said he would back whichever Democrat wins the nomination, he said Sunday that support was "not transferable anymore" and that endorsements, including his own, "don't guarantee anything."
Josh Marshall, never a Dean fan, had a cow about this, saying:
I don't care if Dean says he'll endorse whoever wins. He's playing the defection card. And that crosses the line. [oo, pray tell, what 'line' is that? and have none of the other candidates already crossed it?]

I don't doubt that it would be hard to reconcile some Dean supporters to another Democratic nominee. But that's not the point. By saying it, he's leveraging it, and encouraging it. [he is? are you sure? why?]

The price of admission to the Democratic primary race is a pledge of committed support to whomever wins the nomination, period.
So, Marshall admits that Dean's speaking the truth, and then imputes motivation to Dean's statement of fact, suggesting that if one states a fact, one is also encouraging that fact to be true. This is a serious critical thinking deficiency that I believe results from too many lawyers and wanna-be pundits in politics and not enough scientists, analysts, and doctors. The mere statement of facts does not imply endorsement of those facts in the minds of scientists and doctors. Josh is too blinded by his own preconceptions to think outside of the spinning Beltway box. It's a shame, really. I'm also curious how he would define "committed support." What other candidates have said that they will support whoever the nominee is?

Wes Clark, a candidate Josh seems partial to, was reported saying the following:
"I don't think the Democratic Party can win without carrying a heavy experience in national security affairs into the campaign," [Wesley Clark] told Salon in a phone interview last week. "And that experience can't be in a vice president."

Asked if he was referring specifically to the much-discussed possibility of a Dean-Clark ticket, he said: "It's no substitute. It won't work, and it won't carry the election for this party."
So, Clark is another Dem candidate suggesting that there will be negative outcomes for the party if he's not nominated. Why aren't Josh and the Kool Kids complaining about Clark's divisiveness and lack of commitment to the party?

My co-blogger V has written previously about Marshall's assume-the-worst-and-freak-out compulsion when it comes to interpreting Dean. It's a serious liability that, as a professional journalist, and not one of us mere peon bloggers, he should really work on overcoming - preferably before the general election heats up.
Posted by J at December 30, 2003 10:45 AM

The thing these people apparently don't see is that a lot of the Dean supporters are not standard Democratic party members. They're people like me, who lean Democrat but don't like the way the party has been behaving the last four years (at least). People who are sick and tired of the standard Dem candidates, who have been brought to the party by Dean because he's not like all the other candidates.

So, since a lot of the people I know who support Dean are actually independents (what deanindependents.org calls freethinkers) rather than hard core Democrats, why in the world would we support any other candidate should Dean not win the primary? Nice to know I'll be "excommunicated" from a group I don't belong to in the first place if I don't fall in line with their beliefs. That kind of behaviour is what drove many of us away in the first place.

Is that not obvious? Dean's doing (in a different way) what Clinton did. Clinton was the first candidate in my memory (I'm 37) who appealed directly to anyone under the age of oh, thirty-five or forty. Dean is bringing the liberal to centrist disaffected voters back, and all these people threatening us are only demonstrating quite brilliantly all the things that drove us away in the first place.

And I love this site. Thanks for such excellent commentary and information.

Posted by: Fish at December 31, 2003 05:23 PM

And I forgot my point to the actual post. I will still vote next November, and gods help me it will probably be whoever is the Democrat nominee (maybe), but I've had it with voting out of fear of the alternative. I want a positive candidate, and the only one of those we have right now is Dean. Everyone else is, at this point, slinging mud in hopes of bringing him down rather than campaigning on their own merits.

Posted by: Fish at December 31, 2003 05:38 PM

Fish - I feel similarly. All this angst over the "damage" to "the party" affects me not at all, as the Republicans drove me away long ago and the Democrats just haven't been appealing. If Dean wins the big enchilada, I'll probably become a Dean Democrat, but not until then.

Thanks for the complimentary feedback, by the way! :)

Posted by: J at December 31, 2003 07:27 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

In Association with Amazon.com