Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Return of the self-refuting column

It looks like my thought that incoming DNC chairperson Howard Dean could be repositioned as a moderate has been taken up by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. In his article The Fighting Moderates, Krugman insists that the selection of Mr. Dean "doesn't represent a turn to the left" and that "Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense." Krugman goes on to write that:
It was always absurd to call Mr. Dean a left-winger. Just ask the real left-wingers. During his presidential campaign, an article in the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch denounced him as a "Clintonesque Republicrat," someone who, as governor, tried "to balance the budget, even though Vermont is a state in which a balanced budget is not required."
Krugman also states:
But Mr. Dean, of course, wasn't quiet. He frankly questioned the Bush administration's motives and honesty at a time when most Democrats believed that the prudent thing was to play along with the war party.
If at some point in the past Dean was one of the few Democrats to openly attack the Bush administration's motives and honesty, but now Dean is at the center of his party, doesn't that immediately imply that the Democratic Party has made a shift to the left?


Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

You can attack Bush's motives without being way to the left. People in the center disagree with Bush, and some question his motives.

The reason people classify Dean as a moderate is because he did some things as governor of Vermont that many people associate with conservatism. He balanced the budget. He has a good rating from the NRA.

His health care proposal was more liberal than Kerry's, though, and he was far from the current Republicans in power on anything related to foreign affairs, particularly defense and the war. I don't think his views on that are actually consistent, though, at least across time. He's a moderate on gay marriage, since his policy in Vermont (not that it was his idea) does not go so far as to use the word 'marriage'. He's pretty liberal on abortion in his gut reactions, saying a woman has a right to abort all the way up to birth, though he moderates himself when pressed (upon being told that the Supreme Court doesn't require states to keep abortion legal that far).

The thing that makes him appear so liberal, though, isn't his views but his rhetoric. He keeps saying he doesn't agree with Bush or Republicans on anything at all, which just sounds nuts. He accuses Bush of being a divider, but then what does he say himself about people who disagree with him about some important but still only some things?

He also appears wholly other to people who have Christianity in their bones. He thought Job was in the New Testament and said some things he vaguely remembered about it that weren't even really true as his reason for liking it. He kept saying things to reach out to Christians that just ended up offending them. He patronized black Christians over and over again during his campaign. He looked really out of touch, but not one of those things requires really left-wing views.

1:42 PM  

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