Joe Lieberman made a sharp attack (well, sharp for Joe Lieberman) on Howard Dean at the National Press Club yesterday.Lieberman had this to say about the course of the Democratic Party:
"If George Bush and his bankrupt ideology are the problem, believe me, old Democratic policies like higher taxes and weakness on defense are not the solution," Lieberman said. "We need to reclaim the vital center of American politics for the Democrats."
Sen. Lieberman is right. Of course, the Dean campaign has their usual response:
While Lieberman goes after the center to take votes from Bush, Dean says Democrats must take a stand against Bush’s policies to win.
"Unlike some Democrats in Washington, Governor Dean believes that the way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him and to give people a reason to vote," said Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright.
The fundamental conceit of the Dean campaign is that everyone hates Bush as much as they do. This simply isn’t the case. Generously, 20% of the electorate have the kind of viceral hatred of Bush that Dean appeals to. Perhaps another 10% of the electorate could be pursuaded that Bush is some horrible dictator.
But that isn’t enough to win. In fact, those people are not going to vote for Bush regardless, so there’s no loss to the Bush campaign. The only way the Democrats can win is to take swing votes from the Republicans. It’s still a 50%-50% country for the most part, and each swing vote is critical to electoral success.
All Dean is offering is a vague promise at universal health insurance (which will quickly get trounced as HillaryCare did in 1994), and opposition to the war (which will instantly lose a significant swath of the voters). Unless you already hate Bush, Howard Dean isn’t offering much of substance. Furthermore, if you have even remotely positive feelings towards Bush, the constant stream of invective makes Dean look like an obsessive critic rather than looking like President. The leader of the free world can’t blame Bush for everythng that goes wrong any more than the Bush Administration can blame Clinton for everything. (As much as many Republicans try – give it a rest, people!)
In the end, Lieberman and Sen. Even Bayh and a number of Democrats can read the writing on the wall: Dean’s a loser for the Democrats. Which makes me say "go Howard!"