« Terror hag convicted | Main | Questions on Social Security »

Dean: Why not?

I know my conservative buddies give me a hard time about it, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for Howard Dean. Sure, I've made a few jokes at his expense, but really, who hasn't? You just can't help it. Still and all, I found him to be a much more attractive candidate that John Kerry.

I know much of the Democratic establishment is nervous at the prospect of having Dean at the helm of the DNC, but I believe their anxieties are largely misplaced. Howie is not the raving leftist that many portray him to be. This categorization was the result of his vociferous and dogged opposition to the war in Iraq, which in many ways became the defining issue of the 2004 campaign.

His record is more moderate than than his detractors would have you believe. Dean is one of the few Democrats I know who can sound convincing while preaching the gospel of fiscal conservatism, rather than merely paying lip service to the idea.

I tended to view Dean as the John McCain of the Democratic Party: a populist with strong grass roots support who was unafraid to speak candidly or to go against the conventional wisdom of his party when he thought necessary. Ultimately, I believe it's Dean's candor and his maverick reputation that spooks the establishment more than his ideology. He's his own man, and he's not completely bought and sold by the traditional power brokers of his party.

I think the fears of Dean driving the party off the cliff are misplaced. He has a proven ability to raise money and to energize the party base, and those are the two most important jobs of a party chairman, in my book.

The only real downside I see is Dean's Gingrich-like propensity to let slip the occasional bizarre comment during off-the-cuff discussions with the media. This is a potential trouble spot, since we can expect Dean now to be a fixture on the Sunday morning talking heads shows, but I think it's one which can be easily overcome with a little experience and discipline. Remember, before he rose to prominence on the national stage last year, his political experience was limited to governing a state about the size of Bush's Crawford ranch. He wasn't quite ready for prime time smash-mouth politics on the national stage, but he'll get there, and I predicted he'll do so quickly.

I think the Democrats should relax. He may not be a messiah, but I think they could certainly do worse, just like they have for the past four years. And who knows? It Dean is truly successful in branding the Democratic Party as the proper home of fiscally conservative social progressives, he may even bring enough disaffected Republicans to jump ship to make a real difference.

In any case, it will be an interesting ride.


Well said.

Post a comment