Thursday, April 24, 2003

The Mighty Wurlitzer targets Dean

Dean appeared yesterday on Wolf Blitzer. This is the final paragraph of Drudge's report on that appearance: Asked if the Iraqi people are better off now than they were under Saddam, Dean said, "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." But this is how Drudge headlines it: Dean: 'We Don't Know' If Iraqi People Are Better Off Without Saddam This makes Dean sound like an idiot who thinks that Saddam wasn't such a bad guy after all. Which, of course, is nothing remotely close to what Dean was saying. But this is how the Republican spin machine works: take a comment out of context, look for the worst interpretation possible, and then run with it as if that was what the person was actually saying. It is vitally important that the Dean campaign respond to this NOW before it is allowed to become a settled matter and we end up having to argue a year from now about whether Dean thought Saddam was an ok guy. It's important to remember that Dean never said the Iraqi people aren't better off without Saddam. His point was that changing the name of the person in charge does not automatically lead to a better world for the Iraqis. As Dean said, "the hardest part is still ahead of us". This is a very important message to get out amidst all the rah-rah-rah-ism that we see in the media. Those who think that a people are automatically "better off" once you remove their despotic leader are naive in their political approach to life and are setting themselves up for a nasty fall later on down the road. How should Dean respond to this? He shouldn't get into a quibbling match over what he actually said. That's just what they want because then it comes down only to a matter of interpretation. He should instead turn it around and attack those who would rather distort the message of the opposition then actually debate the real consequences of current Bush administration policy. There are people dying in Iraq, young and old, as a direct result of the US invasion. The country is in chaos and on the brink of falling into a religious dictatorship (better then Saddam's dictatorship?) or civil war. It is fundamentally irresponsible for our leaders to use the thrill of victory to obscure the agony that exists today. But the operatives of the Wurlitzer would rather play word games then deal with these very real problems. That is the kind of thing Dean should say in response. Let's hope his campaign understands this and swings into action immediately. UPDATE: I just read the full transcript of Dean's appearance with Blitzer and the distortion in Drudge's report is even worse then I suggested. Here's the question that Blitzer asked of Dean: 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? So, Dean wasn't disagreeing with the statement that the Iraqi's were "better off now without Saddam". He was disagreeing with the statement that they were "so much better off now without Saddam". Quite a difference no?
Here's the complete Drudge item since he doesn't have a permanent link for it up yet: Dean: 'We Don't Know' If Iraqi People Are Better Off Without Saddam Thu Apr 24 2003 10:09:22 ET Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was asked on CNN Wednesday if he feels differently about the war now that it has ended. Dean said, "Not really. I don't think anybody could reasonably suspect we weren't going to win. The problem now is how to govern, and that's where the real rubber is underneath the road. "The hardest part is still ahead of us, and I think the events that we were watching on CNN showed that. The Shi'a in the south would like in some cases fundamentalist religious state or province, that would be much worse than Saddam Hussein in terms of a threat to the United States it would allow al Qaeda to move in. "We seen chaos in Baghdad with the proclamation of somebody claims he's the mayor. And this is going to go on and on. So we've really got to now build a Democratic society." Asked if the Iraqi people are better off now than they were under Saddam, Dean said, "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."

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