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Better With Dean?

Jim Henley, among others, is pondering whether Democrats would have been better off with Howard Dean as the nominee rather than the "more electable" John Kerry. I agree that, all else being equal, it would actually be easier to win the election with a straight-up opponent of the Iraq War at the helm. Somewhat paradoxically, such a stance actually allows a candidate to position himself as more "hawkish" by dispensing with all this talk about the UN, the international community, etc. You could just say: "I will never hesitate to use force -- unilaterally when necessary -- to defend the United States of America. The Iraq War did not defend America." You could even get away with willy-nilly assertions that you would have bombed North Korea or some such. But could Howard Dean have credibly made such a case? I rather doubt it. Tony Zinni could have done it just fine (the fact that he's not a Democrat and seems to have all sorts of rightwing views would, of course, have been a stumbling block in securing the nomination), but a former governor of a small New England state surrounded by peacenik camp followers who sat out Vietnam with a bad back? I don't see it.

The nominee you want is John Kerry after receiving a tongue transplant from Edwards. Or a Wesley Clark who started earlier and learned from his mistakes before the going got tough. In the real world, though, you can't get the perfect, so you get Kerry-Edwards, the closest approximation to the ideal given the material that was available.

September 21, 2004 | Permalink

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