Monday, September 29, 2003

Dean, Clark and being a True Democrat

In the last two days Howard Dean has made comments about Wesley Clark having been a Republican just 25 days ago. He did it yesterday on Face The Nation and today on NPR's Talk Of The Nation.

I think this is a mistake.

There is an important question to be asked here: do the Democrats want an ambivalent Democrat as their standard bearer? But Dean is obscuring this important point by making the claim that Clark was a Republican.

First of all, voting for and praising Republicans does not automatically make you a Republican. I used to vote for some of them (not since 1998) and have admired a some in my few short years on this planet. But I consider myself a Democratic leaning Independent much more than a Republican.

But, even more important, there is a significant minority of Republicans who are unhappy with Bush's leadership who are are looking for an alternative. Several have expressed strong interest in Dean. But comments like this could make them feel unwelcome (and may, ironically, make Clark seem more appealing).

I think Dean should drop the "he used to be a Republican" line. The question of Clark's ambivalent party membership is an important one that needs to be addressed. Especially if Clark starts going around saying that he is strongly Democratic (that just rings false with me). But Dean's ham-fisted approach will only diminish him.


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