October 18, 2003

Is the presidency re-Dean-able?

Posted by Curt at 02:35 PM in Politics | TrackBack

Although we have left the issue of whether voting actually has any significance whatsoever unresolved, anyone taking even a passing interest in the current presidential campaign, even those on whom it has no direct impact at the moment (including myself, not being a member of either party and hence unable to vote in primaries), might want to take a look at this recent Dean article. The article essentially sets itself to refute some of the common fears about Dean's platform. It argues that far from being a Keynesian foreign policy naif who will bankrupt the government on costly social programs while fatally ignoring the rest of the world, he is actually a fiscal responsibility fanatic who will strive to cut the waste out of programs across the board, including Medicare and Social Security, to break the power of pressure groups like AARP and to eliminate the barriers to international free trade. Two things seem notable about the article: the first is that the statements indicating most of these positions, far from coming from campaign promises made by Dean himself, actually come from criticisms by other candidates exhuming Dean's political record and past statements. This is to say that while these positions seem very favorable in my eyes, they are clearly seen as exploitable negatives by other candidates in the primary and in fact as liabilities even by Dean himself, so that the fact that he is willing to admit to them and stand behind them indicates to me that they are probably much closer to the core of his beliefs than the average vacuous campaign promise, and more importantly that he appears to possess reasoned and undogmatic beliefs behind which he is willing to stand even when unpopular (although, to be fair, these are not necessarily wholly noble stands--as the article points out, the positions which count as liabilities in the primaries often count as advantages in the general election). The second point is that the author of the article, who so extolls Dean here, has in the past criticized Dean fairly harshly, in particular for his positions on national security and foreign policy, the aspects of national governance for which his previous executive experience has least prepared him. I have similar concerns about Dean, so the fact that one who shares those concerns now seemingly supports Dean so strongly means something to me. As I have said before, the only real value Bush seems to have at this point is acting as a block to Dean-type politicians from enacting irresponsible back-crushers like nationalized healthcare, but if that Dean-type candidate (like Dean himself, for example) turns out to be of reasonable and pregmatic turn of mind, and relatively principled to boot, there is hardly a decision to make. And while Dean's anti-war stance may indicate a "hostility or indifference to American military power," if that means that he kicks out all the ex-Trotskyites in the Pentagon trying to sow democratic revolution from above world-wide via the Comintern--er, U.S. military, we should hold a national holiday.

p.s. I feel the need to second Clay's assurance that this is not going to become a sports-and-politics blog, especially since that combination turned out so badly for Rush Limbaugh.

"I have ever distrusted idealists. They ought not be confused with the happy or the hopeful, for they are rather the unhappy and the misanthropes. Their preference for the vague abstractions in their minds to the vastnesses of immanent reality indicates a dissatisfaction, a loathing for the world, introversion surpassed only by hubris. The idealist seeks to reduce us all to the flickering shadows in his dreams."

--Tzhen Fun-Wei