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Friday, January 09, 2004

Oops: From Dean's Outspoken Past

As I learned by reading Pandagon last night, today's New York Times has a story to follow by Jodi Wilgoren and Rachel Swarns, headlined "Tape Shows Dean Maligning Iowa Caucuses." This seems like bad news for Dean, primarily because he insults the Iowa political process -- even as he's gone around praising its democratic qualities. Many people might not care about these old statements (and some would agree with him), but the people who attend caucuses are likely to be the most offended. And since this is on TV (with images), there is perhaps greater potential for impact:
Four years ago, Howard Dean denounced the Iowa caucuses as "dominated by special interests," saying on a Canadian television show that they "don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people, they represent the extremes."

Videotapes of the show were broadcast on the NBC Nightly News on Thursday, less than two weeks before the Jan. 19 caucuses, the first contest of the Democratic nominating race. The tapes show Dr. Dean arguing that the lengthy caucus process in which neighbors gather to debate their preferences is inconvenient for ordinary people.

"Say I'm a guy who's got to work for a living, and I've got kids," he said on the show on Jan. 15, 2000. "On a Saturday, is it easy for me to go cast a ballot and spend 15 minutes doing it, or do I have to sit in a caucus for eight hours?"

A moment later, he added, "I can't stand there and listen to everyone else's opinion for eight hours about how to fix the world."`
The story also quotes Dean saying in 2000 that Bush was a moderate who might win re-election. Lots of people might have thought the former in 2000 and have now reconsidered their view. That's not a big deal. And Dean certainly isn't in favor of Bush's re-election now. Indeed, the Democrats need to reach out to people who thought Bush was a moderate and viewed him as electable.

Perhaps more troubling for the candidate, Dean is also quoted saying that Hamas might become the post-Arafat Palestinian leadership. He said this would be bad, of course, because Hamas is a terrorist organization. But, Dean added that it might also have good effects, forcing Hamas to act more responsibly and negotiate.

Dean has already had to deal with Israel issues on his campaign, and I've blogged a little about the controversial views of some of his advisors. Again, I don't think this part of the story matters that much in Iowa or New Hampshire. The opinions are not totally unreasonable and can be explained as part of a bigger context.

Finally, the story includes the accusation that Dean is bringing in thousands of out-of-state volunteers and some of these people will allegedly attempt to participate (illegally) in the Iowa caucuses. This is little more than political mud-slinging and could actually end up hurting whatever opponents are levying the charges.

The winner? In my mind, it is Clark, who has just passed Kerry in New Hampshire tracking polls and is behind Dean only 24-20% in a national poll. Mark A.R. Kleiman has been tracking the Clark campaign, and its recent surge, pretty closely.

Oh, and since I'm writing about the election, Liberal Oasis has an ad that didn't make MoveOn's final cut...actually, it's a satire of the other ads. Thanks to Dave Johnson for the link.

Update: I just read Daily Kos, who reports that Senator Tom Harkin's endorsement of Dean has changed today's TV news coverage. MSNBC apparently went from stories focusing on Dean's old statements to this latest political victory.

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