Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, June 23, 2003  

Fred over at Rantavation forwarded me that transcript of Howard Dean and Tim Russert. Interesting. Dean made a number of blunders. As I advance my case for becoming the Rove of the left, let me offer a critique. (Doctor, this one's gratis, but the next one will cost you.)

Doctor Dean on Taxes:

MR. RUSSERT: But you would raise taxes?

DR. DEAN: I would go back to the Clinton era of taxes because I think most Americans would gladly pay the same taxes they paid when Bill Clinton was president if they could only have the same economy that they had when Bill Clinton was president.

Invoking the name "Clinton" is doom. Everything about Bill worked because it was Bill sending the message, not the message. His policies weren't particularly strong, certainly not coherent, and he got lucky with a booming economy. The name says nostalgia. Look forward.

MR. RUSSERT: Ted Kennedy says that we should have a prescription drug plan. It's the first step, a compromise. Democratic leader Tom Daschle says he's right. Are you with Ted Kennedy?

DR. DEAN: . . .First, this is an opportunity to set up an entitlement program for people who need a prescription drug benefit.

Lose the word "entitlement" while you're at it. That's a neo-con word, which, roughly translated, means: "welfare queen spending my paycheck on liquor."

MR. RUSSERT: ...calling for that, and this is what Howard Dean said. "The way to balance the budget, [Gov. Howard] Dean said, is for Congress to cut Social Security, move the retirement age to 70, cut defense, Medicare and veterans pensions, while the states cut almost everything else. 'It would be tough but we could do it,' he said."

DR. DEAN: ...Well, because that was the middle of--I mean, I don't recall saying that, but I'm sure I did, if you have it on your show, because I know your researchers are very good.

Find out what the hell you were talking about and back way, way off it. What the hell were you talking about?

So, if you ask that to most Americans, they're going to say, "I would much rather pay the taxes that I was paying when Bill Clinton was president if I could have health care and my property taxes would go down and we could have jobs again." Because they never got the president's tax cut. The vast majority of people in this country either got no tax cut or got a small few hundred dollars.

Hammer this. Well said.

DR. DEAN: There are a number of people, Tim, who have gone out on the campaign trail, one as recently as last week, and said "I only voted for the resolution to go to war with Iraq because I knew that the resolution would force the president to send the matter to the United Nations." That is false.

MR. RUSSERT: Who said that?

DR. DEAN: I'm not going to tell you who said that.

They spent a lot of time on this. Russert kept pointing out how Dean tends to speak boldly against candidates one day, then back off the next. I expect this is early difficulty that Dean will smooth out, but he needs to do it, and fast. He needs to figure out if he's going after his rivals, or just going to let his policies speak for themselves. Later on, he had some nice context: "This whole campaign really has been about it's time for Democrats to be proud of being Democrats again. Stop voting with the president and then try to justify your actions, stop supporting stuff that makes no sense and stand up for what you believe in."

This is a winner--calling out the other Dems for not standing up to Bush. And boy is it legitimate. Don't waffle.

Other notes. If Dean considers himself left enough to be called "another McGovern," he should start explaining why. Otherwise, he should say, "look, my policies are extremely centrist--just a little right of Bill Clinton's--and this 'liberal' label is inaccurate."

He's fine on the gay issue, he just needs to streamline his message.

Like a lot of governors, Dean's weak on foreign policy. Because he's the only governor in the race, and because we're in the middle of a "war on terror," the other Dems and the media will continue to hammer him on it. He needs to know it backwards and forwards. It wouldn't hurt to have a high-profile committee of former generals help him draft a comprehensive foreign policy and then make that one of his highlights. Turn the disadvantage into an advantage.

posted by Jeff | 3:53 PM |
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