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December 2, 2003
Howard Dean: All Hat, No Cattle, Take 2

After visiting Hugh Hewitt, Mickey Kaus and Best of the Web, I've discovered that the Hardball interview had a lot more landmines for Howard Dean than I first saw. First off, he seems to be flunking post-Cold War geography:

The key, I believe, to Iran, is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran I believe mostly likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union, and it may require us buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The Soviet Union, you may recall, disappeared in the early 90s. Dr. Dean may have been in surgery that day -- who knows? -- but if George Bush had made a reference to "East Germany" in the present tense, I think that would be making headlines. I seem to recall a media kerfluffle when he couldn't come up with the name of Pakistan's current leader during the last election. So far, I don't see the media rushing to publicize Dr. Dean's faux pas.

However, it may just be because there's an embarrassment of riches in the Matthews interview. Take, for instance, this exchange:

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host) : Who should try Osama bin Laden if we catch him? We or the World Court?

DEAN: I don't think it makes a lot of difference. I'm happy...

MATTHEWS: But who would you like to, if you were president of the United States, would you insist on us trying him, since he was involved in blowing up the World Trade Center, or would you let The Hague do it?

DEAN: You know, the truth is it doesn't make a lot of difference to me as long as he is brought to justice. I think that's the critical part of that. [Emphasis added.]

So the man who wants to lead the American people doesn't really care if OBL is brought to American justice? Just where does he think 9/11 happened, anyway? Perhaps he'd feel differently if terrorists had struck Montpelier; lucky for him no one can find Montpelier. As Hugh Hewitt notes, in several posts on this subject:

My colleague from Chapman University Law School, Professor John Eastman, speculates that an international tribunal charged with prosecuting bin Laden would probably be constituted without the authority to impose the death penalty, so Howard Dean must either be ignorant of that issue or indifferent to bin Laden's trial before a tribunal that can sentence him to death in the U.S., and one in the Hague which might be obliged to send him off to plot new strikes from a cell. Dean didn't even know enough to ask Chris Matthews what Matthews meant by a the "World Court." ...

In Howard Dean's world, bin Laden gets 30 years to life. And a fine.

This position is the equivalent to saying that, if Dean were running for President in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, that he wouldn't care who defeated the Japanese, just as long as someone did it. Osama bin Laden masterminded the worst attack on the American mainland since our Civil War, and to be so nonchalant about his fate speaks volumes about the character of the man whose primary mission as President would be the security of the nation and its citizens.

If Dean really does get the nomination, after building up a drawerful of statements like these, he will be lucky to carry his home state and DC. Someone will need to rescue the Democrats from their own folly; I predict that Hillary may be drafted in the latter part of the primary season to wrest the nomination from Dean, or the Democratic Sanity Brigade will elevate Gephardt or Lieberman -- if such a brigade even exists these days.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 2, 2003 1:02 PM

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