My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Doubling Down

I've been trying to figure out for a couple of days now why Howard Dean would go so far off the cliff with his comments about the capture of Saddam Hussein, only to be followed with the thought that we're not any safer since 9/11. It could be that he believes this is true, but that would belie a level of dementia not common among those who successfully get elected. So, what's his schtick?

This is purely conjecture, but. . . I think he has seen the reality that things are starting to turn around domestically, so the only hope he has is if the war goes badly. Therefore, not only does he have to make the case that he was against it from the start, but when things go well he has to make the argument that they are irrelevant. Think: if he waffles a little bit this week, then in nine months if things are going well he won't get elected; however, if things are going badly his waffling could be seen as a point of weakness, hurting his electability. If he holds the line that he did this week, and in nine months things are going well he still won't get elected; however, if things are going badly his holding this line would be chalked up as prescient and principled. In other words, his chances of being elected aren't that great to start with, but they get significantly better if he holds to his hardline anti-Bush anti-war positions.

In a bizarre sense, he goes in the same camp as the President: they have both banked their 2004 electoral hopes on the outcome of the war. The problem for Howard the Duck is that with every piece of good news he's going to have to double down to maintain the bluff--and the cards don't look like they're going in his direction.

And the problem for Democrats is that if Dean is wrong, the whole party is being launched over the cliff with him. Generally, this is not an outcome I find distasteful. However, I don't think it could possibly be good for the country for a significant part of the elected representation to be so out of touch with reality and so contrary to what seems to be the obvious good of the country.

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