Howard Dean's Mouth Sets Trap For Himself, His Party
Here is the transcript of Howard Dean's exchange with Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace. Not much has changed since 2004, as it shows that Dean cannot argue facts, is unaware of them, and is really only able to respond to critical questions with taking points. You should read the whole thing, but here is a paraphrase of what Dean said in response to a bunch of pesky facts:
As far as the State of the Union is concerned, Dean's biggest point, beyond class warfare talking points and accusations that Bush is a liar, and notwithstanding very positive economic indicators, is that people perceive that the State of the Union is not great, and that's what matters. I would have to agree if one is more interested in twisting perceptions than dealing with real problems.
When discussing foreign affairs, Dean takes a remarkable detour in criticizing democracy. He offers that Bush's efforts to democratize the Middle East are somehow not a great move, because the Palestinians, in free elections, selected a Hamas-dominated government. And without stating what better things we can do, other than twice saying that we ought to "prod Hamas into now being a responsible government", he leaves open a very curious assertion that democracy isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Segueing into the war on terror, Dean repeats the talking point that the Iraq War took our eyes off of Usama bin Laden and Al Qaida, and then recommends that we redeploy troops in Iraq to Afghanistan, without addressing how that will affect either theater. He mentions at one point earlier that our troops do not have battle armor, but given that my brother in law who is currently stationed in Samarra allowed me and my son to wear his 40 pound armor vest, I think the Chairman's understanding of this situation--and others--is woefully incorrect.
On NSA wiretaps, Chris Wallace demands evidence of Dean's accusation that the Administration is poking into our private lives. He initially denies that we are poking into people's business per se, and that we have to and should poke around to find Al Qaida, but, of course, he cannot forget to add that the President is breaking the law to do it. Then, again failing to offer the factual basis for his belief, states that we cannot possibly know whether a call involves Al Qaida operatives beforehand, notwithstanding the statement of Gen Michael Hayden that we know that the calls intercepted are from people known to have Al Qaida ties. Dean's final comments, suggesting that it is impossible for us to avoid listening in on conversations about what's for dinner, reveal what he really thinks of the program. He doesn't really understand it, doesn't want to, and wants to demagogue it regardless of its benefit to Americans, if it can bring down Republicans in an election year.
And finally we come to Jack Abramoff. Dean repeats the same quizzical assertion made last week where he emphatically denies any relationship between Democrats and Jack Abramoff, while in the same breath, accuses Republicans of widespread corruption and bribery. But Chris Wallace did his homework. Check out this exchange where Dean likely puts his foot in his mouth:
WALLACE: So if we find, and I just want to, we have to wrap this up. But if we find that there were some Democrats who wrote letters on behalf of some of the Indian tribes that Abramoff represented, then what do you say, sir?
DEAN: That's a big problem, and those Democrats are in trouble, and they should be in trouble. And our party, if the American people will put us back in power in '06, we will have on the president's desk things that outlaw all those kinds of behaviors. Right now it's a Republican scandal. Maybe they'll find that some Democrats did something wrong, too. That hasn't been the case yet.
But our reforms in the Democratic Party are going to be aimed at both Democrats and Republicans. We want to clean up Congress, and we will within 100 days of the new Congress in 2007.
WALLACE: Chairman Dean, we're going to follow up on that. Thank you. Thanks so much for joining us. And don't be a stranger. You're always welcome here.
Wallace asked that question because he knew its answer, and he plans to come back to Dean with it once he confirms everything. Apparently there is evidence that some legislator, perhaps Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-SD), may have taken an act that appeared to be in conformity with the receipt of money from Abramoff's clients. And Chris Wallace allowed Dean to associate a behavior with Democrats and with punishment. It can't get any more perfect than that.
It also shows that Dean really has no idea what is going on with this investigation and with members of his own party. His reflexive denial of Democrat involvement and hyperventilating over the Republicans' culpability has actually left his flank exposed.
The Democrats elected him. And now, he may have done them some real political damage by lowering expectations about Democratic involvement with Abramoff by denying even innocent interaction with him. And while I don't think that this will shift to a primarily Democratic scandal by any means, the denials certainly up the damage if some Democrats are found to be in the mix. Leaving the Democrats with nothing to campaign on other than "Bush lied", "No", and "elect us instead."