Readers weigh in on Dean vs. Kerry, and grounding the flying nun.

By Salon Staff
Published July 26, 2003 8:18PM (EDT)

[Read "Life of the Party?" by Garance Franke-Ruta.]

Call them the Delusional Leadership Council.

The powers that be in the Democratic Party have had the issues, they've had populist discontent, they've had a solid half of the available electorate, they now have body bags being shipped home, a budget deficit crisis that borders on insanity, and a cool $4 billion a month investment in Iraq that has, of this date, failed to net the American taxpayer one single solitary benefit -- and Howard Dean is controversial?

Bollocks to that! If you're going to make electoral comparisons, why not compare him to Clinton -- the dark horse governor who galvanized the base, turned the swing voters and vanquished his opposition?

The truth is, Dean is by no means a far-left candidate -- he's solidly to the right of me on many issues, and I'm solidly to the right of the crowd at ANSWER. At worst, why not compare him, as others have, to William Jennings Bryant -- the candidate who lost the election but excited the base and paved the way for FDR? Dean is exciting to young, Internet-savvy, middle-class professionals, and we're the fastest-growing demographic in America.

The fact that Dean has enough fire in his belly and outsider cachet to bring the self-immolating Greens closer to the fold can only be a good thing. Dean will most likely make a solid venture to the center before this shooting match is over, and I, for one, say to my left-center brethren: Let him!

I hate to break it to the esteemed members of the DLC, but elections are not won and lost by the bland rhetorical support for prescription drug plans, especially at the presidential level.

The presidency is and should be about vision and bold ideas. Clinton understood that. Bush and company understand that -- and while their vision is mostly so much dung, a thousand tons of bullshit is more compelling than a thousand tons of flour every day of the week.

-- Jason Linkins

Howard Dean is the best thing that could have happened to John Kerry.

Despite the poll numbers, everyone's known since Gore dropped out that Kerry was the true favorite to win the nomination, but his image as a "Northeast liberal" was a major obstacle. That was before Howard Dean's vocal antiwar stance.

Now that Dean's image is that of a McGovernite liberal, Kerry appears as a moderate, and can maintain that appeal without having to run to the political center.

In the eyes of moderates and independents -- who comprise the majority of voters in general elections -- Kerry is the "good cop" to Dean's "bad cop."

-- John Cottone

I want to thank Garance Franke-Ruta for spelling out what is obvious to anyone who's been following the Dean campaign: The DLC is stupidly punishing Dean for daring to be electable -- and their attacks on Dean are doing nothing more than aiding and abetting the Republicans.

It seems the DLC would rather see four more years of Bush than relinquish their stranglehold on the Democratic Party. That, I suspect, is the real reason why they fear Dean. Not because they really believe their own bogus McGovern comparisons, but because a Dean win would shatter forever the DLC's access to the machinery of the Democratic Party.

-- Tamara Baker

If Dean is McGovern, then Bush is Nixon, right? And we all now know what Nixon was all about -- lies and thievery.

If we've learned from history, this time around people will vote for McGovern as embodied by Dean instead of Nixon as embodied by Bush.

I also advocate a Howard Dean/Wesley Clark ticket. For all the obvious reasons, this combination would be undefeatable.

It's time the Democrats saved their money fighting each other and starting backing the candidate who stands the best chance of fighting the neo-cons. And in all seriousness, that candidate is not Lieberman.

-- James Healy

Regarding Howard Dean, the best comparison is not George McGovern, but another Howard.

Howard Beal, the angry anchorman from the movie "Network," was "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore." That is the essence of Dean's appeal. He vocalizes the feelings of a lot of us angry Democrats and Independents, who can't believe how radically our country has changed in less than three years.

I share his anger, but in the end, I've decided to support Kerry because I like his foreign policy experience and the programs he has in place. I also think he is more electable.

But I wish that all Democrats would look past the primary to the ultimate goal. Each candidate should make a pledge to focus their anger where it belongs, and do whatever is necessary to put a Democrat in the White House.

-- Peter Thompson

As a Brit, I never cease to be amazed at American politics. At a time when they have lost the presidency, the Senate and the House, you would have thought the Democratic Party would regroup, unify and attack. Instead we have a slate of bland boneheads who seem more content to maul each other than Bush.

Franke-Ruta is right; this helps no one but the GOP. If the Democrats lose in 2004 they will have no one to blame but themselves.

-- James Davey

I have been following this race closely. The reasons I believe John Kerry not only is but should be the clear front-runner are as follows:

1) He's a war hero in a military era where some of what Bush is doing is merited. Someone has to take away a big chunk of that Bush pro-military vote to win in 2004.

2) He's very highly qualified to be president.

3) He's tall, presidential-looking and surprisingly warm and personable despite the old "arrogant" charges.

4) Lieberman and Gephardt are tired names. We don't want to run an Orthodox Jew who agrees with Bush on everything, nor a guy too indebted to the old union crowd.

5) Edwards isn't experienced enough and may not even be able to carry North Carolina, and Dean will turn off half the voters in 2004 if he gets nominated -- and play right into Karl Rove's hands. Rove and his ilk are just waiting to Ben and Jerry and Birkenstock him to death. Kerry is much less vulnerable to such attacks.

6) Graham is reportedly running for vice president and should get it.

Kerry-Graham is the winning ticket. If for some reason not Graham, then Clark or Richardson, but we have to grab Florida, or else.

It's all in the math, folks.

-- Bill Nelson

[Read "Grounding the Flying Nun" by Dave Lindorff.]

Secret lists, "special" attention to people with names that sound Muslim, and agencies with no accountability to the people or to Congress? Sounds more like the Gestapo or the KBG than the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration.

Regrettably, the biggest difference between the three is that the Gestapo and KGB are out of business.

-- Frances Burmeister

Brrrr. This is easily the most chilling current news story I have ever read.

It's Joe McCarthy all over again, except without the hearings.

-- Sherry Gorr

Salon Staff

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