Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

January 2, 2004

by V

Interesting Times, Clark and the Road Ahead

Chris Andersen at Interesting Times has a frequent habit of making the same points I'm thinking about making, well before I get around to making them.

He also writes his points well, making it a no-brainer to just quote him instead of coming up with my own way to say the exact same thing.

So here's some recent sanity from Chris that I'd just like to second:

From Pandagon: Comments on 'Give me a Break'
Online communication can have a tendency to make the words of one voice sound a lot louder than they are. In other words, just because one Dean supporter says something that a lot of people find offensive does not mean that that supporter speaks for all Dean supporters.

Similary, just because one Clark supporter acts like an asshole and looks down on all Dean supporters does not mean that all Clark supporters are assholes who look down on all Dean supporters.

Factor into this the "let's you and him fight" mentality of the media and the "let's get them to tear themselves apart" mentality of the REAL opposition and you have a recipe for flame wars that far outstrip any real sense of disharmony in the ranks.

There's a battle going on within the Democratic party right now, but it will be a blood-letting only if we let it become so.

I've long felt that the hysterically anti-Dean people I read are primarily taking that position because of other factors than actual horror at a Dean candidacy - most likely, loyalty to other candidates. The majority of the anti-Dean talking points are just too trivial, baseless and spin-filled to be the actual arguments of clear-thinking American voters.

It's my hope that once the nomination is settled, everyone will chill the hell out about everything that's been said between Democrats and turn their attention to the bigger fight ahead, no matter who wins.

More Chris A. sense, this time about Clark:
I am a supporter of Howard Dean, but I will be the first to admit that his critics are not entirely wrong in their criticism. In fact, I toyed for a while with the idea of supporting Clark. But there have been two primary reasons why I have not made that switch:

(1) the naiveté of some in the Clark camp who think that their guy will be less susceptible to Rovian style smears and innuendo simply because he is a general and (2) the palpable sense of fear that permeates many Clark supporters about what will happen if Dean gets the nomination.

The two things that have killed Democrats in the last few years are precisely those two things. Dems have been looking for a White Knight whose perfect resume will vanquish any smear campaign and they have been running away from taking any stand in serious opposition to Bush because of the fear that doing so would hurt their electoral chances. The two things that have sold me on the Dean campaign more than anything else are that it understands that the best way to defeat the smear campaign is to confront it head on, not waste time looking for a mythical White Knight whose character is impeccable and that the fear of what might go wrong cannot stand in the way of the hope of what might go right.

If I got a good feel for either of those two things coming from the Clark campaign it is quite possible I might switch. I get none of that. So I'm sticking with Dean.
I've never been that close to switching to Clark; I was hoping he'd show me some real skill on the stump and some extra-smart campaign strategy, him being a keen military mind joining the process so late and all. I got none of that (he hired Chris Lehane, for pete's sake), so I have always remained strongly in the Dean camp.

Make no mistake: I think that of the other Democratic candidates, Clark is the best and I would have the easiest time throwing my money, energy and volunteer time behind him versus the Congressional gutless wonders (any of whom would of course get at least my vote in November).

The bottom line is, this won't be the status quo for much longer, and even though I'm convinced my candidate is the best, I'm down with whoever wins, no matter what I read on the websites of other candidates' supporters.

I do wish Clark wouldn't make such a big deal out of his pre-emptive 'no' to the VP slot, but I recognize that that's how one has to behave in a primary contest.

My opinion is, the two campaigns which have inspired the most volunteer energy and have such complementary strengths sure ought to be able to find some way, eventually, to work together toward the common goal. Or, to quote Atrios commenter 'capn mike' (on the Winners thread):
Clark people + Dean people = victory
I look forward to the end of the primary season, when we can get down to the business at hand. Together.
Posted by V at January 2, 2004 05:05 PM

Exactly! I support Dean because he doesn't pussyfoot around the Republicans or anyone else in fear of what they'll do in retaliation. I can't speak to Clark, I don't know much about him or any of the others. (I can see I have some more reading to do.) But I know I won't vote for Gephardt or Lieberman. Way too much entitlement and back-scratching going on, as well as bile spilling from their campaigns.

Until I heard Dean speak last summer, my vote was going Libertarian because I couldn't stomach the thought of supporting the mealy-mouthed, appeasing, divisive Democratic party anymore. I'm still not sure if I'll vote Dem if Dean isn't on the ticket. My reasons for voting third party haven't changed. And I got caught last time in all of the fear served up that third parties would take votes from Gore and cause him to lose. I will not vote out of fear again.

Posted by: fish at January 3, 2004 02:38 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

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