Thursday, December 08, 2005

In Defense of Howard Dean, Sort Of

Given that this space has been pretty consistently critical of Howard Dean, it only seems fair to give full play to a reasonable argument from a reasonable source, in this case John Judis of The New Republic. In this article Judis argues that politics aside, dean has been consistently correct in his assessments of the war.

The key excerpt:

There are, however, two very different questions to ask about Dean's statements on Iraq. The first is whether they are politic--whether they have advanced his own or his party's electoral chances. Probably not--I am no fan of Dean as a national politician or party chair; and I would certainly concede that a Democrat in Georgia, Florida, or Nebraska might not want to run on what he says.

The second question, though, is whether his judgment on Iraq has been sound. And there I would say that it certainly has been. During the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, and during the invasion and occupation, Dean has been almost consistently correct in his statements. He has been the Democrats' and the nation's Cassandra--willing to reveal bitter truths about which Republicans and his fellow Democrats would prefer that he remain silent.

Dean's statements perfectly fit Michael Kinsley's definition of a "gaffe"--an assertion that is impolitic but true.

Now I am not certain I agree with Judis on every point here. But one thing I do find interesting is that Dean tends to receive grief, for example, for comparing Iraq with Vietnam. This despite the fact that proponents of the war (usually conservatives) are absolutely willing to make the Vietnam comparison if it bolsters their cause. So, for example, Vietnam seems to be unacceptable unless it is being used as a framework for death tolls, in which case Vietnam is fair game, because that particular Vietnam analogy dovetails with their point. As someone who has supported elements of this war and who certainly made an ardent case for support of A war against Iraq, albeit a different one than that waged by this adinistration, it is frustrating to see this debate become wholly politicized. But that is where we stand. And if that is the case, then at least it seems fair to say that there might be more to Dean than meets the eye, even if, ironically, Dean is proving to be a terrible leader in an inherently politicized position.

1 comment:

Cram said...

This is one of those great posts that actually force me to look at something in a different way. I have been so disappointed at Dean’s failure as party leader (which I think we both agree on) that I have definitely forgotten the fact that on the Iraq issue, as with many others, he has proven to be prophetic. It is truly unfortunate that there are no prizes or points for being right, only for winning elections. Great article though!