Monday, May 23, 2005

Republicans: Placing Our Confidence in Howard Dean

While it is likely against the rules of the DNC to have a Republican be the Chairman, having Howard Dean in that office is probably the next best thing. And Republicans thought things would never be the same after Terry McAuliffe left office.

Here's a Washington Times review of his performance with Tim Russert yesterday on Meet the Press. Between convicting Tom DeLay (but saying Osama bin Laden needs due process), mocking Rush Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers by implying that he was doing cocaine, hating Republicans (a remark which he claims was out of context), to saying that he will resurrect the Terri Schiavo matter for the 2006 elections, Dean is hitting all of the tasteless buttons he can, and taking his party to places where they desperately won't want to go.

The Rush Limbaugh thing breaches all standards of civility. Dean, however, refuses an opportunity to apologize and just dives even deeper, saying that he doesn't like to be lectured about morality by people who have their own problems. Which presumes that Howard thinks he has none or that people cannot discuss morality unless they are perfect. But in any case, one presumes that a medical doctor would not find humor in an individual's struggle with addiction. One would be wrong in Dr. Dean's case. Sure, it's hideous, but Democrats want this guy speaking for them, and it's hard to say that they disagree given that they are not doing a thing to pull the plug on him.

Of course, the DeLay/bin Laden matter has been dealt with already. I wasn't too surprised by his crude comment about DeLay going back to Texas to serve his sentence, as we all know Dean to be a blowhard, but I've never been able to write off the benefit of the lack-of-doubt which he gave bin Laden. And such things reflect a particularly intolerable weakness for America's enemies.

But the remarks about Terri Schiavo are particularly troubling, and he may wish to think very carefully about opening that Pandora's Box. His argument will be (surprise) that Republicans violated Terri's rights and those of her family by demanding that her life be extended despite clear evidence that she wanted to die. But such issues won't get too many folks out the door to vote. The issue is not so sufficiently close to their pro-choice base to energize them.

But Republicans will be ready to recall activist judges who ignored evidence and law in favor of personal political philosophy. They will show each and every Schiavo court appearance and the resulting ruling as an example of what happens when judges are free to ignore law and substitute their own subjective view of fairness. They will also be associating themselves with the truly ghoulish right-to-die movement. Want to offend Catholics in Florida when another Senate seat is up for election? Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) may have a serious re-election fight on his hands in a state that is trending Republican (Nelson remains the only statewide Democrat). Remind Floridians of what happened in their state, and remind them that these people wanted to preclude Terri from receiving communion. Remember also that there's potentially quite the Senate war brewing in the State of Washington. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) may face a backlash after the Democrats essentially stole the governor's election through the courts just as their count came only a few votes ahead of Republican, Dino Rossi.

People care more about bad judges and renegade courts than they do about the "right-to-die", and raising Terri Schiavo's name may indeed work disaster for them. Just don't tell Howard that. But then again, he's never been one to take advice that seriously.

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