Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 18, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

HOWARD DEAN: PRO-WAR?....This is really tiresome. Mickey Kaus excerpts a David Broder column today in which Howard Dean is quoted as saying this about George Bush back in June 2002: "I think he's done a good job on the war on terrorism." Then we get this:

There are two interpretations of Dean's transformation from a candidate who said Bush was doing "a good job on the war on terrorism" to the Howard Dean most voters think they know today. One...is that Dean sincerely supported the overall war on terror but thought the Iraq invasion was a misstep, the "wrong war at the wrong time."

....But there's a second, more troubling interpretation, which is that Dean shifted to a strong anti-war position not because of Bush's Iraq actions, but because he saw that that was where the Democratic party's activist base wanted him to go.

If you read the whole post you'll see that Mickey has absolutely no reason to suspect that Dean is insincere. Literally nothing. It's the cheapest of cheap shots.

But what's even more annoying is the fact that it seems impossible to put a stake through the heart of this particular brand of smear, so let me say it clearly and in simple language:

Yes, goddamit, it is possible to support the war on terror but not support the war in Iraq.

In Dean's case, he has been entirely consistent (as far as I know) that (1) he's against the war in Iraq, (2) he supported the war in Afghanistan, and (3) he supports fighting terrorism. It's bad enough when media shills insist on playing tiresome "gotcha" games with Democratic candidates by focusing on obscure past statements to try and prove some illusory "inconsistency" while allowing enormous real inconsistencies by the people who are actually in power to float gently out of sight but apparently now we're playing the same game even with a candidate who has been as consistent as it's humanly possible to be. It's time to knock it off.

UPDATE: Via Matt Yglesias, this Robert Kagan column makes the same point about Dean's position on terrorism vs. his position on Iraq:

He opposed the Iraq war, he says, because it was "the wrong war at the wrong time," not because it was emblematic of a fundamentally misguided American foreign policy. Dean has not, in fact, challenged the reigning foreign policy paradigms of the post-9/11 era: the war on terrorism and the nexus between terrorism and rogue states with weapons of mass destruction. "I support the president's war on terrorism," he told Tim Russert this summer. He supported the war in Afghanistan. He even supported Israel's strike against a terrorist camp in Syria because Israel, like the United States, has the "right" to defend itself. (European Deanophiles take note.) Dean does not call for a reduction in American military power but talks about using the "iron fist" of our "superb military."

Some peacenik, eh?

Kevin Drum 4:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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