More and more I keep hearing from Republican pundits and strategists that they want President Bush to face Governor Howard Dean in this year’s general election. It’s been all over the major media. We’ve heard rumors that the “boy genius” presidential advisor Karl Rove is salivating over the prospect of a Dean-Bush square off.
And we’ve heard from the Clinton Democrats that Howard Dean must be toppled because he can’t win.
They’re all bluffing.
The best “dirt” the Republicans have on Dean is the half-year he spent skiing in Aspen, just after he received a military-service deferment for back problems. Dean truthfully says he didn’t want to go to war in Vietnam, but he had a real medical deferment to get him out of it. That’s not a small issue, but I believe it’s minor compared to what Republicans have or will have on Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards or Clark.
I like Kerry. He has good ideas, and I will vote for him should he get the nod. But just wait until the women of America find out that he left his first wife, with whom he had children, when his political career started to take off. She was apparently suffering from depression. Few details emerged from the New Yorker article (Dec. 2, 2002) by Joe Klein, but the implication is that he was an opportunistic husband who left behind a sick wife in order to build his political career. Republicans will jump all over this; if not in publicly, then privately, and the rumors will reach the independents.
Edwards is obviously pro-lawyer. The American people, in general, are not. When he was a trial lawyer he did nothing to help the disadvantaged, whom he now says are his biggest concern. Besides that, he’s a first-term senator with little experience.
Gephardt is so pro-union that he won’t get the independent vote, so he just can’t beat Bush in the general election. He was an early supporter of the war in Iraq, which turns off most Democrats.
Clark was a Republican for all of his adult life, until this year. He was fired from his job as Supreme Allied Commander in Kosovo for, apparently, not listening to his civilian superiors. He was adamant about that war which, like the war in Iraq, did not have the approval of the United Nations. One could say, therefore, he’s a unilateralist. Besides that, he’s clearly transformed himself into a Clinton Democrat now and has no apparent problem with the ethics of the Clinton administration. Clark won’t have very wide appeal in the general. He has zero magnetism, and would very likely lose to Bush. There’s been the rumor that he’s merely a stand-in for Senator Hilary Clinton, who is allegedly going to run in 2008. If that’s the case, then he’s immoral.
When one looks deeply at the total picture of Howard Dean, there aren’t many negatives. He is a doctor and he knows very well how to relate to people one-to-one. He opposed the war in Iraq early and often for both moral and practical reasons, and has been consistent with that position. He is a fiscal conservative, but he has a heart, and will likely use social-program funds very wisely and effectively. He’s mentioned the usually unmentionable “C” term (that’s civil liberties) and I think he will be smart with regard to that issue. In other words, he won’t abuse his power.
His record as governor of Vermont is just excellent. A squabble with American Indians is all his detractors can point to there. He brought Vermont’s economy out of the dumps, balanced the budget and helped create new jobs.
I believe Dean will be smart and effective in office; obviously, I hope he wins. We need real bipartisan reform in this country, for the economy, the environment, for society, for our position in the world. And we need true national security that won’t create new enemies, but may even sooth some old conflicts. Dean is the man to deliver the goods.
And my guess is, when Dean finally chooses to get a personal computer, it’ll be a Mac!