Sunday, August 03, 2003

Meeting the Presidential test

Lieberman was hanging out with Wolf today and demonstrated he is clearly concerned about the good doctor from Vermont. Joe seems sincerely, and in my opinion wrongly, convinced the war with Iraq was justifiied. He attempted to feed the notion that Dean's opposition to the war makes him weak on defense. Then strangely, and grossly unfairly, jumped to the conclusion that Dean would take the Dems back to the 1972-92 wilderness when the party was considered fiscally irresponsible and soft on crime. How opposition to this war justifies such a characterization was, not surprisingly, not followed up on by Wolfie. It seems to me that no one can fairly characterize Dean as fiscally irresponsible. The man balanced budgets for over a decade in Vermont. Soft on crime? Joe look at your connections to the accounting business. As Dubya might say, "remove the log from your own eye."

Dean does have to establish his foreign policy credentials and cannot afford to have another performance like his last Meet the Press appearance. But as I think Clark has shown, one can oppose the necessity of this war and be strong on defense. Dean's not there yet.

Dean's biggest problem is that it is hard to win a general election without being seen as having a positive message. Attacking Bush is necessary, but the key is being able to do it while being seen as positive and solution oriented. Clinton displayed these skills masterfully in 1992. Even with a positive message, Dean will have to overcome being seen by the general populace as primarily combative. Anti-Bush folks eat this up, but most of America is not anti-Bush-- but they are open to alternative leadership.

Clark remains the most impressive of the possible candidates in meeting the test of assuring the country that he can act responsibly on security issues while having a calming, mature demeanor. In a side-by-side comparison Bush will seem like the petulant child he never matured from being. Clark will seem like the wise statesman I think he is.

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