It’s no secret that many on the right are giddy at the prospect of Howard Dean as the Democratic nominee. National Review even featured a tongue-in-cheek endorsement of Dean on its cover last month (which the New York Times reprinted in full) Dean would make such a singularly unappealing candidate as the standard-bearer of the opposition that it’s easy to cheer for him in anticipation of his November trouncing.
Regular readers might guess that I don’t share the sentiment; I wrote last week that it’s perfectly possible, with a culturally polarized electoral map, for Dean to beat Bush in the event of a serious error or two by the White House. I’ve even re-registered as a Democrat not as a saboteur but as an infiltrator on behalf of a candidate I could actually live with as president (among the Democrats, my first choice is Lieberman, followed by Gephardt and Edwards).
But while I think the “bring on Dean” attitude is misguided, I can certainly understand it. Far stranger is the latest idea that Dean’s nomination would somehow be good for the country. Bill Kristol writes in the current Weekly Standard that Dean presents “a choice, not an echo,” and that this “is perhaps as it should be.” Well, perhaps. But would any of the Democratic candidates really constitute an “echo”? All of the Democrats, to one degree or another, want to raise some or all of the taxes that Bush has cut. All of the Democrats, even Lieberman, would pursue a foreign policy more deferential to the United Nations, and the “international community.” Kristol, of all people, ought not fall for the old Naderite fallacy that Washington is all “Democans” and “Republicrats.”
Andrew Sullivan shares Kristol’s enthusiasm:
The Dems haven’t given themselves an opportunity to vent about the way they really feel — about those benighted rednecks, dumb-ass preppies, preposterous puritans and economic snake oil-salesmen they believe are now running the country. It would be really unhealthy for America and the Democrats to repress that any longer. They’ll give themselves a collective hernia.
Far be it from me to question Sullivan’s medical opinion, but I think there’s been ample opportunity to vent — on the legions of Dean-worshipping blogs, in the pages of magazines like The Nation (which has recently enjoyed a surge in readership, as political magazines tend to do in opposition), and on scores of op-ed pages. There are far less dangerous places to channel anger than into the White House, and Sullivan acknowledges the possibility of Dean’s election.
Having dismissed the other candidates on various grounds, some of which amount to “they’re Democrats” (Edwards is a ’90s throwback, Gephardt is “too left on economics and healthcare”) Sullivan concludes, “If I were a Dem, I’d support him. And feel a lot better for it.” Thanks, Andrew, but I am (technically) a Dem, and I feel fine opposing him.
John Tabin is a frequent online contributor to The American Spectator whose website is JohnTabin.com.