Thursday, September 11, 2003

Is Dean a panderer?

The latest Dean meme that is making the rounds is that he is changing his positions on certain issues in order to shore up political support. In other words, he is flip-flopping in order to pander to certain constituencies.

To the casual observer (e.g., many of our establishment political press) this might appear to be true. He did change his mind about raising social security eligibility to 70. He did change his mind about lifting the Cuban embargo. Both of these changes could obviously be construed as pandering to certain blocks of voters (senior citizens and Cuban Americans in Florida).

But in order to assert that Dean is nothing but your typical pandering politician you would have to show that this is part of a pattern of him taking the expedient route for political advantage.

Is this a believable charge in light of the fact that Dean loudly opposed the War in Iraq at a time when support for it in public opinion polls was at 70+%?

Is this a believable charge in light of the fact that Dean signed civil union legislation at a time when the polls showed it at 30% in Vermont and he was running a tight race for re-election (which he subsequently won, by the way)?

Dean is a politician. He will adjust his positions to deal with political reality. But his opponents are trying to push the image of him as nothing but a blatant panderer when the record obviously proves otherwise.

Our leaders need to be flexible in order to deal with the ever changing nature of a complex world. Do we really want to insist on a foolish consistency in a politician's policies that runs counter to the facts on the ground? That's what we have today in George W. Bush, a man who never met a problem that he didn't think couldn't be solved with a tax cut or a cruise missile.

If so then we truly get the leaders we deserve.


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