December 09, 2003

Endorsing Howard Dean

Now that Al Gore has endorsed Howard Dean, who is next? It really sounds as though the Weekly Standard's William Kristol is about to cross the aisle:

How Dean Could Win . . . ( liberal is Dean anyway? He governed as a centrist in Vermont, and will certainly pivot to the center the moment he has the nomination. And one underestimates, at this point when we are all caught up in the primary season, how much of an opportunity the party's nominee has to define or redefine himself once he gets the nomination.

Thus, on domestic policy, Dean will characterize Bush as the deficit-expanding, Social Security-threatening, Constitution-amending (on marriage) radical, while positioning himself as a hard-headed, budget-balancing, federalism-respecting compassionate moderate. And on foreign and defense policy, look for Dean to say that he was and remains anti-Iraq war (as, he will point out, were lots of traditional centrist foreign policy types). But Dean will emphasize that he has never ruled out the use of force (including unilaterally). Indeed, he will say, he believes in military strength so strongly that he thinks we should increase the size of the Army by a division or two. It's Bush, Dean will point out, who's trying to deal with the new, post-Sept. 11 world with a pre-Sept. 11 military.

But what about Sept. 11?... [W]hile Bush is committed to victory in [the] war [on terrorism], his secretary of state seems committed to diplomatic compromise, and his secretary of defense to an odd kind of muscle-flexing-disengagement. And when Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., said on Sunday with regard to Iraq, "We're going to get out of there as quickly as we can, but not before we finish the mission at hand," one wonders: Wouldn't Howard Dean agree with that formulation? Indeed, doesn't the first half of that sentence suggest that even the most senior of Bush's subordinates haven't really internalized the president's view of the fundamental character of this war?

I don't think William Kristol knows yet whether he is going to endorse Dean, but it's hard to read him without thinking that it's quite likely.

Posted by DeLong at December 9, 2003 10:39 AM | TrackBack


um, the unedited beginning of the final graf of the column is this: "But what about Sept. 11? Surely Bush's response to the attacks, and his overall leadership in the war on terrorism, remain compelling reasons to keep him in office. They do for me." hard to read those as the words of a man "quite likely" to endorse dean.

Posted by: John Heilemann on December 9, 2003 10:56 AM


Are columnists at the Washington post allowed to endorse candidates? I know that the NY times won't allow it. (Krugman mentioned it at one of his talks)

Posted by: Tommaso Sciortino on December 9, 2003 11:00 AM


Please, please. William Kristol will do whatever can be done to elect George Bush and every other possible Republican, the more radical-right the better. These folks are the radical-right and care only about ending any legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson. These folks smile and smile, and gobble up the middle class through the smiles.

Posted by: lise on December 9, 2003 11:11 AM


If Dean would promise unconditional support for Ariel Sharon and endless war in the Middle East (Iraq than Syria than Saudi Arabia than ...) I am sure Bill Kristol would be more than happy to support Dean. But since George W Bush is the only current hope for such policies, I imagine Kristol will stay on board. Hopefully Bush is finally beginning to see the disasterous consequences of these policies.

Posted by: Joe Blog on December 9, 2003 11:20 AM


Well, Kristol is not an op-ed columnist for the Post. He's the editor of the Weekly Standard, which does endorse candidates (and clearly will endorse Bush again). Kristol was a big McCain fan, and ended up losing some influence in the Bush White House for that, at least early on. Kristol is a strong neo-con, and strongly pro-Iraq war, and won't endorse andy Democrat this side of Zell Miller.

Posted by: Dan in Chicago on December 9, 2003 11:35 AM


>>"But what about Sept. 11? Surely Bush's response to the attacks, and his overall leadership in the war on terrorism, remain compelling reasons to keep him in office. They do for me." Hard to read those as the words of a man "quite likely" to endorse Dean.<<

It does depend on how strongly you think Kristol believes what he wrote in that sentence, doesn't it?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 9, 2003 12:06 PM


William Kristol's bread is buttered by Republican radicals. There will be no break with Republicans. No way.

Posted by: lise on December 9, 2003 12:24 PM


Should we even trust the writings of the right wing on this? Consider the Gray Davis strategy of 2002 - trash the fellow you don't want to run against so you get to run against Bill Simon, Jr. So the right wing was telling us Dean was too liberal to govern or even win before the Democrat primary season - which really means the right wing fears Deans even if they CLAIM they relish running against him.

Posted by: Hal McClure on December 9, 2003 01:24 PM


Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?

The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq. In interviews over the past month, American officials and former officials said that the main target was a hard-core group of Baathists who are believed to be behind much of the underground insurgency against the soldiers of the United States and its allies. A new Special Forces group, designated Task Force 121, has been assembled from Army Delta Force members, Navy seals, and C.I.A. paramilitary operatives, with many additional personnel ordered to report by January. Its highest priority is the neutralization of the Baathist insurgents, by capture or assassination.

The revitalized Special Forces mission is a policy victory for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has struggled for two years to get the military leadership to accept the strategy of what he calls “Manhunts”—a phrase that he has used both publicly and in internal Pentagon communications. Rumsfeld has had to change much of the Pentagon’s leadership to get his way. “Knocking off two regimes allows us to do extraordinary things,” a Pentagon adviser told me, referring to Afghanistan and Iraq....

Posted by: lise on December 9, 2003 01:42 PM


For all the reasons stated above, it really will be a "dogs and cats, sleeping together" moment if Bill Kristol endorses Dean. But don't discount how unhappy the McCainiac wing of the Republican party is with this Administration. I look at one in the mirror every morning who is thinking of voting for a Democratic presential candidate for the first time since 1992.

Of course, every time I have to listen to the yammering of Lise-types I reconsider. But the biggest idiot in the world can tell you it's dark outside, it doesn't mean the Sun is shining.

Posted by: David Blumgart on December 9, 2003 02:27 PM


Yes, reading Kristol's op-ed this morning brought to mind a similar response. I don't know if endores Howard Dean is the right phrase- maybe more like call out George Bush as not deserving of 4 more years. And Kristol's "They do for me" comment read more as an admission of his kept status (he has to pound the drums for Georgie, despite all this) than anything else

Posted by: tegwar on December 9, 2003 02:39 PM


Wm Kristol will not go against his corporate masters who will do everything to make sure that the GOP retains the presidency. He is a tool that is being used to pump up Dean so that when he gets the nomination, they will knock him down with national security and cultural wedge issues.

Posted by: Richard on December 9, 2003 03:20 PM


The heavier the sarcasm, the likelier it is to go flying high over everybody's head.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on December 9, 2003 05:11 PM


Kristol hates Bush. But he hates Democrats even more than he hates Bush. Therefore, there is no way he will endorse Dean. If he endorses Dean, I'll eat my shoes.

Posted by: The Fool on December 9, 2003 06:09 PM


Yeah, my jaw would drop lower than the floor if Kristol went for Dean, but I can also see why folks like David Blumgart would vote for him. Bush spends our money like a drunken sailor without a lot to show for it.

Posted by: Chibi on December 10, 2003 10:24 AM


I hadn't read much of Kristol before this article, but was stuck by how skewed pro-Bush, pro-Repub his writing was. Reread the whole column and think about the assumptions behind his phrasings.


Posted by: Skinny on December 10, 2003 01:46 PM


Last night I watched a July video of Howard Dean kicking off his candidacy, I think, in Vermont.

I think he can win. This feller can switch steps three times in a second and do it seamless. As far as any debates are concerned, Dubya doesn't stand a chance in front of Dean. I can tell that much.

But that won't be the reason why Dean won if he does win.

Dean will win if the capitalists become convinced that he can do a better job of selling capitalism. Dubya team is falling apart -- they are too zealous (spell) and the Americans are getting a bit fed up with that -- I think.

(And keep an eye on that young feller Ray who appeared just before Dean; that guy is going to make himself pretty well known in less than ten years.)

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 11, 2003 12:38 AM


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