Howard Dean on MTP
Howard Dean on MTP
Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 10:02:09 AM PDT
Howard Dean was interviewed by Tim Russert this morning on Meet the Press and, to my way of thinking, said all the right things.
Tell the Truth. When asked what Democrats will do on Iraq, Dean answered, in essence, tell the truth. He contrasted this with the dishonesty and deception that has marked the Bush Admnistration and Republicans on Iraq and almost every other issue. When asked what Democratic politicians should say about their prior votes on Iraq, he said - tell the truth. He markedly contrasted them with Bush and the Republicans, whom Dean called "corrupt" and "dishonest." This is a winning issue that most Americans agree with and behind which Democrats of all ideologies can rally behind.
Extremist Religiosity Does Not Equal Moral Values. Russert put up a poll finding in the most recent NBC poll that found that 35% of Americans thought the Republicans were the "more moral" party, while only 18% thought the Democrats the moral party. Dean did not bite into the premise. He understood two things about that poll finding - (1) That only 35% of Americans thought Republicans the more "moral" party is a huge problem for the GOP. If 65% of Americans have not been spun on this issue, then the GOP attempt to brand the Democratic Party as the party of the perverse is failing. (2) That Democrats comfortable talking about their faith of course should and will. This signalled to me that on "values" questions, Dean embraces the Big Tent concept, where different approaches for different Dems in different parts of the country is an essential strategy for Democratic success. Dean stressed that it is our underlying values, not the source of them, that bring us together as Democrats.
Dean also took an opportunity to tweak Russert's assumption that faith = Christianity. Russert spotlighted a Tim Kaine statement about his Christianity and asked Dean if Dems willbe talking more about their faith. Dean reminded Russert that faith does not equal Christianity. I thought it was an embarrassing moment for Russert.
The Alito Nomination. Russert tried to put Dean on the defensive on the question of the Alito nomination, suggesting that Dem opposition would amount to obstructionism. Russert referenced a NYTimes editorial today as a negative example of this. Dean turned this entirely around, embracing the Alito nomination process as a chance for Dems to define themselves as the Party of Mainstream Values. In particular, Dean endorsed this portion of the editorial:
The Alito nomination comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. With President Bush's poll numbers plummeting, Democrats are finding a new optimism about their chances in 2006 and 2008. But to capitalize on the Republicans' weakness, the party needs to show that it has an alternative vision for the country. As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.
Keep Us Safe. While acknowledging the Democrat weakness on national security and the need to address it, Dean resisted Russert's call for Democratic alternatives on Iraq and other national security issues. Dean rightly pointed out that Republicans are in complete control of the government and that they do not take advice from the Democrats.
Which leads to my final point - When Do Democrats Define Themselves? Dean gave the right answer - when the voters have a chance to make a choice for real change, in 2006. The Elections. The Democrats are doing what they are supposed to do right now - opposing a Republican agenda harmful to the country. And agreeing on those few occasions when the Republicans do the right thing. That is called being an opposition party. The time for offering alternatives is when the voters can choose that alternative for real change. And that is 2006.
Kudos to Dr. Dean for a stellar performance.