Monday, April 28, 2003

I was afraid of this

Last week I talked about Drudge's misquoting and distortion of a comment by Howard Dean on Wolf Blitzer. Here's the relevant extract from the transcript for that show: BLITZER: But governor, nobody -- nobody disagrees there are going to be problems. But aren't the people of Iraq so much better off now without Saddam Hussein on their back? DEAN: We don't know that yet. We don't know that yet, Wolf. We still have a country whose city is mostly without electricity. We have tumultuous occasions in the south where there is no clear governance. We have a major city without clear governance. We don't know yet, and until we do... BLITZER: You think it's possible -- excuse me for interrupting that whatever emerges in Iraq could be worse than what they have for decades under Saddam Hussein? DEAN: I do, I do. We have to think of this from an American perspective not an Iraqi perspective. The reason the president gave for going into Iraq which I disagree with is Iraq was a security threat to the United States. I don't believe Saddam was. But I believe a fundamentalist Islamic regime would be. That we have to guard against, that may be very, very difficult. I think the jury is out in terms of what we've created. The other thing is, you have to remember that this president has now created a new American foreign policy a preemptive doctrine. And I think that's going to cause America some serious trouble down the line, too. I don't regret my opposition to the war, I think in the long term interest of the United States, we have yet to see whether the war is going to be successful or not. Dean's response may have been a bit of a surprise for the cheerleaders in the media ('but, we toppled his statue!") but it is a well reasoned statement on the long-term difficulties that will come from the American invasion of Iraq. Drudge, of course, distorted what Dean said into the following headline: Dean: 'We Don't Know' If Iraqi People Are Better Off Without Saddam I said, at the time, that the Dean people had to be prepared to respond to this distortion and stamp it out as soon as possible. Some told me that I shouldn't worry so much until such a time as it becomes a bigger deal. Well, thanks to John Kerry, it has become a bigger deal. The DailyKOS has the item this morning: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Robert Gibbs or Kelley Benander Phone: 202-548-6800 Date: April 28, 2003 Statement from Kerry Communications Director Chris Lehane on Howard Dean's Statement on American Military Supremacy Washington, DC - Time.com today reported the following quote by Vermont Governor Howard Dean - "We've gotten rid of him," Dean said of Saddam Hussein's ouster. "I suppose that's a good thing." Pressed again last week on CNN, Dean refused to concede that Iraq is better off without Saddam. And two weeks ago, while campaigning at a Stonyfield yogurt factory in New Hampshire, the would-be Commander-in-Chief suggested that America should be planning for a time when it is not the world's greatest superpower: "We have to take a different approach [to diplomacy]. We won't always have the strongest military." Kerry campaign communications Director Chris Lehane reacted to those Dean statements by saying - "Howard Dean's stated belief that the United States 'won't always have the strongest military,' raises serious questions about his capacity to serve as Commander-in-Chief. No serious candidate for the Presidency has ever before suggested that he would compromise or tolerate an erosion of America's military supremacy. "A President Kerry, who will bring the perspective of having served on the frontlines to the job of Commander-In-Chief, will guarantee that America has the strongest, best trained, most well-equipped military in history." Why is Kerry taking his cues from Drudge? If Kerry has substantive criticism of Dean's positions then he should make them. But he should not become a water-boy for the GOP attack machine. I said last week that Dean should respond to this attack by talking about it in the context of the smear machine that is operated out of the RNC. But, now that Kerry has taken the point, it becomes that much harder for Dean to characterize this as simply a distortion of the right-wing Wurlitzer. Why is it that Democrats are more willing to play the smear game against each other then they are against the Republicans?

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