Kevin Drum let's his cynical side do the talking this morning:
I (and Brad) live in a state which last October was facing a $10 billion budget hole. We responded by electing a governor who promised to "stop the crazy deficit spending." As soon as he took office he increased the deficit by $4 billion by cutting vehicle license fees. Then in December he proposed to finance this tax cut by issuing an extra $4 billion* in bonds. Yesterday my fellow citizens eagerly approved this bond issue by a wide margin. At the same time they made it clear in no uncertain terms that they will not put up with any tax increases whatsoever as a means of addressing the deficit.
My point? What makes us think that the people of America are interested in someone who is competent, steeped in the issues, and allergic to the magic asterisk? As near as I can tell, they are far more likely to vote for people who (a) lie to them, (b) cut their taxes, and (c) pretend that a magic asterisk really will make the deficits caused by their tax cuts go away. The American public is practically addicted to the magic asterisk.
I've commented before that one of the things that appealed to me about Howard Dean was that he was a doctor and he had a doctor's sensibility when it came to approaching the problems we are facing today. When you go to your doctor you don't want him to be political in his diagnosis. You don't want him to fool you into thinking that things aren't as bad as they might be. You want brutal honesty. A doctor who doesn't warn a morbidly obese patient that they are eating themselves to death is an irresponsible doctor who should lose their license.
A politician who does the same thing wins re-election.
People say they don't want their leaders to lie to them. That is a lie. They just want them to tell the right kind of lie.
Howard Dean was right in so many ways and that is why he lost.