Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 19, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

PILGRIMAGE TO PLAINS....Howard Dean spent yesterday in Plains with Jimmy Carter:

Dr. Dean said last week that he was skipping 20 of the last 48 hours in the Iowa campaign because "when the former president of the United States asks you to go to church with him on the Sunday before caucuses, I think you probably take that up." But Mr. Carter said today that the visit had actually been Dr. Dean's idea and that he hoped all the Democratic candidates would make the pilgrimage to Plains "to kind of heal wounds and show that we can all worship together."

"I didn't invite him," the former president, wearing a bolo tie, told reporters and parishioners as he entered the church this morning. "He called me on the phone and said he'd like to come worship with me."

This isn't that big a deal, but I wonder why Dean tried to imply that he'd been invited? And I wonder why he went? Offhand, it doesn't seem as if being seen in the presence of Jimmy Carter would necessarily be that big a boost in the Iowa caucuses.

At any rate, Carter didn't offer an endorsement and of course neither has Bill Clinton. On the other hand, George McGovern (for Clark) and Al Gore (for Dean) have. That leaves Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis left among losing Democratic candidates whose endorsement is still up for grabs. My guess is that Dukakis is radioactive, but I imagine Mondale's endorsement would be worth something.

In other former president news, James Joyner reports that no less a hawk than Ralph Peters was blown away by Bill Clinton's latest Sister Souljah moment in front of the Emir of Qatar:

Our former president gave the most perfectly pitched, precisely targeted speech I've ever heard to a hall filled with Muslim intellectuals and officials. And they listened.

....He didn't pander. He made America's case and made it well. Beginning with a sometimes-rueful look at the progress his administration had failed to make and noting that the wars that plague the world are begun by men his own age or older, but paid for in blood by the young, he refused to direct one syllable of blame at the Bush administration. Accepted as a citizen of the world, he spoke as a convinced American.

....With art and ardor, he scolded the crowd that blaming others for their own failings was useless and destructive - warning that even when others truly are at fault for our misfortunes, wallowing in blame only paralyzes us. Actions, not accusations, change the world.

Sounds like a good speech. But then, aside from that unfortunate zipper problem, he was a pretty good president.

UPDATE: Commenter Matt Stevens reminds me that Dukakis has endorsed John Kerry, although not with what you'd exactly call a blaze of publicity. So I guess Mondale is the only fence-sitter left.

Kevin Drum 11:13 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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