Wednesday, February 02, 2005

From IBD

Off The Dean End

Politics: Talk about timing. Just when Iraq’s elections are bringing victory closer in the war on tyranny and terror, the Democrats are embracing a defeat strategy.

How else does one account for the fact that the party is about to choose Howard Dean, a candidate who couldn’t get past the Iowa caucuses, as the man to lead it back to power? Dean doesn’t have the party chairmanship sealed up, but he became the odds-on favorite to win after getting the support of state party leaders this week.
And what, other than a deep-seated defeatism, can explain the party’s response to this week’s good news from Iraq?
Harry Reid, the top Senate Democrat, reacted to the election by calling on President Bush to reveal an “exit strategy,” as if getting out was all that Americans wanted.
As Reid knows full well, Bush already has a strategy — to build a democratic Iraqi state capable of defending itself — and is executing it. But Reid and other Democratic leaders simply cannot or will not give Bush credit for anything, especially for success in Iraq.
They seem to assume that bad news for Bush is good news for them, and good news for Bush must be denied or explained away.
This is the mind-set of the left-wing activists who seem increasingly to be setting the agenda for the whole party.
Not all Democrats think this way. A few prominent ones, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman, understand what’s at stake and keep their partisanship in bounds on foreign policy issues. But the rise of Dean suggests their influence on the party is weak and getting weaker.

Dean’s appeal to centrists is feeble. His appeal to Republicans, by choice, is nil. “I hate the Republicans and all they stand for,” he told one New York City audience this week while admitting that he admired the GOP’s “discipline and organization.” His strategy is not to win Republicans to his side, but to treat them as the enemy, to learn from their success and use the knowledge to bury them.
If the party goes with Dean rather than a moderate, it’s deciding in effect to become a party of the left, energized by anti-war activists but increasingly cut off from the politically centrist, morally conservative voters who tend to decide elections.
Already, Bush and the GOP have made inroads on moral issues with black preachers, who have been among the Democrats’ best friends. Dean hardly seems the man to reverse that trend.
If the Democrats pick him, they will help confirm the suspicion of those who think the party takes black voters for granted or is too obsessed with Bush and Iraq to care what blacks really think.

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