Regardless of which Democrat eventually gets the nomination, by no means should the candidates be tearing each other down at this stage. I was dismayed to see Lieberman attacking Dean as too liberal, as quoted in this Dean interview with Larry King:
KING: Speaking of the others attacking you, yesterday, on Sunday, Senator Joe Lieberman, another candidate, compared you to George McGovern and described a party led by Dean as a ticket to no where. Today he spoke at the National Press Club. Here’s what he had to say and we’ll get your comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam, who has called for the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class, I believe will not offer the kind of leadership America needs to meet the challenges that we face today. And as I said in my prepared remarks, I believe that that kind of candidate could lead the Democratic Party into the political wilderness for a long time to come. Could be really a ticket to no where.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Your reaction?
DEAN: Well, obviously I don’t agree.
As Harry Truman reputedly said “Give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, and they’ll pick the Republican every time.”
Now, to be honest, I don’t like Lieberman and I don’t think he’s a strong candidate. The man oozes what the Spanish call “antilust,” a sort of negative charisma. He tries to overcome this repulsive effect with the sort of unctuous fake folksiness that went out with the current President’s dad.
The important thing is for opponents of Bush to keep their eye on ball. If Dean keeps running away with things, it may be that the DLC view of things won’t control the party this time around.
Given Lieberman’s history and track record (defeating moderate Republical Lowell Weicker by running to his right, carrying water for the insurance industry, giving Cheney a pass in his one debate in the last election), his redbaiting of Dean is especially unwelcome. (username/password: mediajunkie/mediajunkie)
It’s easy to paint Dean as too far left given his appeal to activists at this stage and the disaffected, but I think it’s both misguided (unless you are defending the incumbents) and factually incorrect.
Oliver Willis sees a sea change in the works, suggesting that Dean might be a kind of backbone-having, bedrock Democrat that could restore the party’s base and reach out to the vast undecideds, as Ronald Reagan did, despite the concerns of wise men from his own party.
At this point, I’m throwing in with Dean. He’s close enough to me on enough issues, and he seems willing to go toe to toe with the people in power now. He’s got some good ideas about mobilizing the people left out by or cynical about our current politics, and I think he could surprise us all.
Having said that, if another candidate takes the nomination, I hope the energy Dean is tapping into doesn’t dissipate but moves forward with eyes on the prize. Dean himself said that any of the current Democratic candidates would make a better president than Bush and I agree.