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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Dean for America

The Washington Post’s editorial page had a gonzo day today. While I quickly got bored with a couple of pieces, Charles Fenyvesi’s column anecdotal piece on dealing with evildoers in custody struck a cord with me. He tells the tale of a family friend who, after WWII, lost control of himself briefly when interrogating a war crime suspect, leading to a confession. His tale encourages one to grapple with the human rights standards we hold so dear and how they mark us, and impact our lives.

Fred Hiatt’s piece on Russia’s aggression in Chechnya also pushes one to think about the compromises we make in geopolitics: “It is in the accumulation of such small victories that a great nation diminishes itself.” Those “victories” are illustrated by former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski’s accusation against the world community’s indifference toward the atrocities in Chechnya: “And how did they die? Amidst global silence, in solitude, with occasionally some people murmuring ‘never again’ – but not really attaching much significance to them.”

So, I’ve decided to face the music. It seems that I’ve become a Dean supporter. I went back and read some of my old stuff after recalling recent conversations where I tried to stay neutral but couldn’t help saying good things about Howard Dean and finding fault with most of his competitors. Although I have great respect for some of the other Democrats running and have questions about some of Dean's issue positions, I can no longer pretend to be on the fence. Dean and his team have run a good campaign, he appeals to me on several issue fronts and in what kind of leader he seems to be, and the recent endorsements by the very progressive Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., SEIU and AFSCME, and Rep. Elijah Cummings have made me turn the corner. So, you will see a Dean button on this site and, though I will endeavor to continue to write as I see fit, I recognize that these pieces will probably be slanted toward Dean.

For instance, several pieces in today’s Washington Post illustrate how those close to Dick Gephardt are funneling money to his campaign for president through means that those who support campaign finance should have difficulty accepting. While I cannot help but wonder if any candidate can keep their hands really clean in this day and age, I am concerned that some are not trying very hard.

The American Prospect has a good piece by Michael Tomasky on how Democratic Party muckety-mucks need to stop whining about how Dean might hurt our causes and leaders, and start working to make sure that the breath of fresh air he is bringing in is best used to make a long-term difference. Tomasky quotes the President of the New Democrat Network, a one-time Clinton campaign staffer: "If Clinton modernized the message," says Simon Rosenberg, the most prominent centrist Democrat who's enthusiastic about Dean, "then Dean is rebuilding the party. In the '90s party, it was, 'Write us a big check.' Regular people were left out of that equation. Now, through new technology, we're getting them back in."