Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

December 31, 2003

by V

More on Dean's "line-crossing"

Atrios and his commenters had a number of sane things to say about this:

Dean Redux
While I roughly agree with Josh Marshall, it should be pointed out that by the standard he uses none of the major candidates have paid the price of admission. Their failure to raise their hands when asked if Dean was "electable," and Kerry's and Lieberman's regular return back to the issue of Dean's "electability" all make the case that people who would support them wouldn't vote for Dean.

As far as I know, Dean is the only one who keeps getting asked this basic question. He has said he wouldn't run as a 3rd party candidate and he has said that he would support the nominee whoever it was. While I wrote yesterday that I didn't like what Dean had said, it's also the case that the other candidates thus far have failed to communicate this basic minimum degree of unity.
Clark in particular strikes me as someone who should be asked this question. Will his supporters support the nominee if he's not a (swoon) General?

Commenter 'danno':
Dean feels the bulk of his supporters are people who are fed up with Washington politics and politicians and they will not blindly follow the eventual Democratic nominee. He also says that he will endorse and support the nominee but that doesn't mean his supporters will do the same. So basically Dean thinks his supporters are independant spirits who think for themselves.

And this is some kind of unpardonable sin?
Commenter 'ploeg' would be right on...
all Dean has to say is that he will support the eventual Democratic nominee to the best of his ability. Period. No need to say anything more. (Or if he does say more, he needs to say that the campaign is bigger than he is, and the need to defeat Bush in November is bigger than he is.) Anything else just leaves a bad taste in people's mouths.
...if Dean didn't keep getting asked to elaborate by the press. It's not like this is a part of his stump speech, after all, he's just answering the questions the national media is trying to trip him up with. Some say he's "fond of making" the statement; have they ever heard him say it when he wasn't being asked the question directly? I welcome actual evidence.

Commenter 'hylander' sums up the Democrats' perfectionism problem well:
The Republicans are held to no standard at all on any issue. We establish impossible standards in both ethics and precision of expression and damn anybody we deliberately misunderstand. Come on guys, lets get down to the business of beating these assholes.
(Another day, this might lead me into a rant about The Note's moronic, repeated insistence that Dean isn't being scrutinized nearly as harshly as he should. I think Dean's getting examined plenty; the one escaping anything approaching responsible press scrutiny is George W. Bush. Does anyone believe he's being held to a standard even close to the one Democrats are being held to?)

Commenter 'hansel' provides my favorite bit, responding to complaints about how Dean supporters have treated some people (a complaint I'm mighty dubious toward, myself):
As a Dean supporter, "new" Democrats have called me a hippie, cultist, deaniac, left wing, out of touch with the party, out of touch with America (so Republican), mindless, blind follower, idealistic, ideologue, koolaid drinker, and backwards looker who wants to take the party back to before Clinton. Doesn't exactly endear me to them.

As if the candidates who managed to lose all 3 branches of the federal government should be the judge of political astuteness. I'm sick of their cluelessness about their role in these losses and their condescending atttitude toward their base. I don't need political lessons from these guys.
As to the substance of the issue, let me try out the following summary on you.
  • Howard Dean is viewed as a 'cult leader' by his opponents and their supporters, and Dean supporters are belittled as 'worshippers'. This is generally viewed as a bad thing.
  • Dean has just indicated that he can not simply expect all his supporters to do what he says just because he says it. After all, he's not a cult leader.
  • This disclaiming of absolute power over his supporters' behavior is now apparently cause for alarm. So, now his opponents want him to act like a cult leader?

Posted by V at December 31, 2003 08:01 AM

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