The River

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Whataya mean, Dean?

I dunno. It's a word. It might mean something.

I'm not political watcher. Yeah, I keep abreast, in my way, but maybe I'm too sensitive or something, but I can't watch, or I just don't want to right now.

Occasionally, on my way to work, I'll listen to a few minutes of NPR. Used to listen all the time, and to Democracy Now, but things change, habits change. This is a good thing.

Anyway, that's another tangent and another post. Maybe. Sticking to the subject at hand -- Howard Dean -- I was listening to a Democracy Now report on the debate in Iowa. They provided a clip where each participant got to weigh in on NAFTA. It started with Kucinich saying that he would repeal NAFTA and challenging Dean to take a stand for or against NAFTA. I like Kucinich, but this came off as a bit histrionic. You don't like NAFTA, good, but let's get into it with a bit less stridency.

Like Dean finally did. But first, the moderator went around to everyone else for a response, ending with Dean. Everyone else, including Braun, jumped on Kucinich with a canned "we can't put up walls to free trade and sacrifice jobs/economy to protectionism etc." speech. Kucinich should have anticipated this, instead of leaving himself open to being portrayed as an idiot, basically.

Dean responded last and best. He began with, "I don't think anyone on this stage is for walling off free trade," or words to that effect. I don't even remember what else he said, specifically, something suitably bland for his 30 seconds, but that was enough to impress me. He let everyone else jump on Kucinich and make themselves out like fools by characterizing an extreme (on the surface) statement with their own extreme and hollow pronouncements, then took the reasonable person's route of actually conceding that the people you are debating are not a blithering idiots. By extension, this means he also is distinguishing himself as the candidate who doesn't assume the electorate is stupid.

Now I'm not a Deaniac or anything. But he's good. He reminds me of Clinton. Smart and skilled in communicating, and probably about as liberal, which is to say not very, when it comes down to it.

But right now, someone wicked smart and level-headed is a good start.

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