- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dean and McAuliffe

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has reached out to the Democratic national chairman after rebuking him for not stopping attacks by his Democratic rivals.

At the same time, those rivals have called Mr. Dean’s complaints so much whining, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The flap started Sunday when Mr. Dean publicly knocked DNC chief Terry McAuliffe for failing to tone down criticism from other Democratic presidential hopefuls.

On Monday, Mr. Dean phoned Mr. McAuliffe for a “talk,” presumably to reconcile — but details were not revealed, United Press International reports.

The same day, Mr. Dean’s opponents simply turned up the heat with even more vigorous criticisms.

“What does Howard do now that he is being substantively challenged about his policies and his judgments and various misstatements and retractions?” Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman asked. “He goes to the Democratic Party leadership and complains we’re being mean to him.”

Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt agreed.

“I didn’t scream and yell and say, ‘Terry McAuliffe has to save me from these discussions.’ That’s what you do in elections,” Mr. Gephardt said.

Crossing the line

Liberal blogger Joshua Micah Marshall says Howard Dean has gone too far by suggesting his supporters might abandon the Democrats if the party nominates someone else for president.

Said Mr. Dean: “I don’t know where they’re going to go, but they’re certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician.”

Mr. Marshall, writing at www.talkingpointsmemo.com, said: “I don’t care if Dean says he’ll endorse whoever wins. He’s playing the defection card. And that crosses the line.

“I don’t doubt that it would be hard to reconcile some Dean supporters to another Democratic nominee. But that’s not the point. By saying it, he’s leveraging it, and encouraging it.”

Mr. Marshall added: “The price of admission to the Democratic primary race is a pledge of committed support to whomever wins the nomination, period. (The sense of entitlement to other Democrats’ support comes after you win the nomination, not before.) If Dean can’t sign on that dotted-line, he has no business asking for the party’s nomination.”

Chain reaction

“Because George W. Bush is attracting moderates with his forthright stand against terrorism, his willingness to go to war to defend our security, and his relatively compassionate social agenda, he is winning over Democrats and independents who might once have voted against him,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“Those moderates who remain Democrats find themselves weakened by the defection of these moderates and become outvoted in the Democratic primaries,” Mr. Morris said.

“This phenomenon is precisely why Joseph Lieberman is losing to Howard Dean in the Democratic race for president. His constituency is voting for Bush and has left his party.

“But Bush’s strong Republican stands on the war in Iraq, defense spending, intrusive measures to fight domestic terrorism, support for conservative judges and opposition to powerful environmental measures leads the Democratic left to oppose him in ever-stronger terms.

“The increase in their vitriol, donations, activism, and primary-election turnout that this anger generates swamps the outnumbered moderates and leads to the nomination of an extremist like Howard Dean as the party nominee.”

The actual record

“After watching a string of editorial attacks on America both at home and from abroad in the aftermath of Saddam’s capture, I thought back to the actual record of the last two years,” Victor Davis Hanson writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“In 24 months the United States defeated two of the most hideous regimes in modern memory. For all the sorrow involved, it has already made progress in the unthinkable: bringing consensual government into the heart of Middle Eastern autocracy, where there has been no political heritage other than tyranny, theocracy and dictatorship,” Mr. Hanson said.

In fact, Mr. Hanson said, “by any comparative standard of military history, the last two difficult years, despite setbacks and disappointments, represent a remarkable military achievement.”

“Yet no one would ever gather even the slightest acknowledgment of such success from our Democratic grandees. Al Gore dubbed the Iraqi liberation a quagmire and, absurdly, the worst mistake in the history of American foreign policy. Howard Dean, more absurdly, suggested that the president of the United States might have had foreknowledge of September 11. Most Americans now shudder at the thought that the former might have been president in this time of crisis — and that the latter still could be.”

Few changes

“The 2003 elections brought only a few changes to the color-coded maps showing partisan control of legislatures and governors’ offices,” State Legislatures magazine reports.

“Democrats scored victories in New Jersey by seizing the Legislature and in Louisiana by winning the governor’s office. Republicans captured governors’ seats in California, Kentucky and Mississippi, boosting their advantage 28 to 22,” said the magazine, which is published by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“Legislative elections in Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana did not change party control.

“Republicans continue to control more legislatures than Democrats by a 21-17 margin. Eleven states are split between the two parties. (Nebraska legislators are chosen in nonpartisan elections.)

“In 29 states, government is divided between the two major political parties. In 12 states, Republicans hold all the cards. In eight states, the Democrats control both the governor’s office and legislature.”

Winner of the Year

The Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” chose Osama bin Laden as the “Winner of the Year.”

“He may be in a cave, but he is not captured and he is not dead, as many had hoped,” she explained.

As for the “Biggest Gaffe of 2003,” the Post reporter said: “It had to have been President Bush’s landing on the carrier with the sign ‘Mission Accomplished.’ It looked good at the time, but in retrospect, it was not a mission accomplished.”

Kentucky’s switch

Kentucky, once a Democratic stronghold, is turning solidly Republican, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“George Bush is more popular in Kentucky than any state outside Texas,” Paul Blanchard, formerly of the Center for Kentucky History and Politics at Eastern Kentucky University, told the newspaper.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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