Dean Campaign a Civil War: Post

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz wrote an extensive article on the Howard Dean campaign, revealing deep divisions within the ranks and a candidate afraid to win:

In different conversations and in different ways, according to several people who worked with him, Dean said at the peak of his popularity late last year that he never expected to rise so high, that he didn’t like the intense scrutiny, that he had just wanted to make a difference. “I don’t care about being president,” he said. Months earlier, as his candidacy was taking off, he told a colleague: “The problem is, I’m now afraid I might win.”
As Dean was swallowed by the bubble that envelops every major candidate, he allowed his campaign to sink into a nasty civil war that crippled decision-making and devastated morale. In the end, say some of those who uprooted their lives for him, these tensions hastened the implosion that brought Dean down.
The polarization revolved around two people: Joe Trippi, the rumpled, passionate, sometimes headstrong campaign manager who drew rock-star coverage in the press, and Kate O’Connor, the quiet, shrewd, low-profile Vermont confidante who never left Dean’s side.

Without a doubt, Kurtz’s article includes blockbuster revelations, but none that will prove more controversial than his conclusion — supported by his sources — that Dean didn’t want the nomination. The rest of the modern political soap opera is all there, too, from the senior aides who want to control the access to the King to the money woes, the rabid press corps, and the hatchet men who became sworn enemies to each other while professing undying loyalty to the nominee.
Perhaps the most interesting revelation, apart from Dean’s reluctance to win, is the internal fallout of the Gore endorsement. Kurtz describes the Dean campaign as two camps that struggled against each other: Kate O’Connor’s Vermont delegation and Joe Trippi’s Washington establishment retinue. Trippi claims that Dean and O’Connor kept Trippi in the dark about the endorsement until it occurred:

It was early December, and Dean and Gore had agreed to keep quiet about the former vice president’s plan to announce his support within days, fearing a premature leak. Trippi grew suspicious when staffers were asked to charter a large plane to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He asked Dean, who said someone would be endorsing him but he couldn’t tell Trippi who it was. Trippi reminded him that he was the campaign manager. But Dean wouldn’t budge.
The larger message was that O’Connor had known and the Washington faction had not. O’Connor said she was simply doing what Dean and Gore wanted. What no one knew was that this would be the high point and that the corrosive sense of mistrust would eat away at the campaign at the worst possible time.

Definitely read the entire article; it may one day be the seed of a much-needed look at the Dean phenomenon from a reasonably disinterested outsider, as I am sure that more than one “insider’s look” at the campaign will shortly be available at your local bookstore. For such an innovative venture, it descended rather quickly into the venality and pettiness that seem to be the destiny of so many failed campaigns.

US, Pakistan Agree on Osama Hunt

Reports have surfaced claiming that Pakistan has finally agreed to allow US troops to operate on Pakistani soil in the upcoming Special Ops spring offensive on al Qaeda (via Drudge):

Thousands of U.S. troops will be deployed in a tribal area of northwest Pakistan in return for Washington’s support of President Pervez Musharraf’s pardon of the Pakistani scientist who this month admitted leaking nuclear arms secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in the issue [of the New Yorker] that goes on sale on Monday.

Musharraf came under fire earlier for his breathtaking pardon of the man responsible for nuclear proliferation to the “Axis of Evil” and seemingly everyone else. The Bush administration leveraged that into a sweeping deal which Musharraf publicly claimed he’d never allow. And without being able to freely operate on both sides of the border, we wouldn’t be likely to get much accomplished in the rugged terrain of the Afghani/Pakistani border.
Now that some solid intelligence is coming through, the US reportedly will scale back its operations in Iraq in order to transfer thousands of troops and Special Forces into Afghanistan to pursue leads on the #1 man on the American Hit Parade, Osama bin Laden, and as many of his pals as possible. I would expect to see some results from the new mission as early as this month, when the weather clears up and our forces can freely negotiate the terrain.

Better Late Than Never

The Iraqi Governing Council has finally agreed on a transitional constitution, two days past an American deadline but with broad agreement on its contents:

Besides a comprehensive bill of rights, including protections for free speech, religious expression, assembly and due process, it also spells out the executive branch. Under the terms of the document, Iraq will have a president with two deputies, a prime minister and a cabinet. …
The document “strikes a balance between the role of Islam and the bill of individual rights and democratic principles,” the official said.

It also contains a “goal” of having the Iraqi Parliament consist of at least 25% women, although this is not a quota. The documents attempts to establish individual rights as the basis of government, including freedom of religion, and aspires to be not only historic for Iraq but for the entire region, one official said.
The new constitution still leaves unaddressed the demands for autonomy by the mainly Sunni Kurds in the north, as well as the reactive demand for the same by the Shi’a in the south. The council reached a consensus to focus on those points where agreement could be found and to leave the rest to the transitional government that will result from the first elections later this year or early next. That government will draft a final constitution and the elected members will debate and decide the most contentious issues, rather than leave it to the present appointed council.
That approach probably represents the highest wisdom on government, and the Iraqis are to be commended for recognizing it. That’s not to say that whatever decision reached will make all sides happy or would completely avoid the dangers of secession, but to attempt to make those decisions at this stage would be disastrous. It’s a measure of how novel and attractive the new Iraqi reality is that the south and the north aren’t scuttling talks by insisting on autonomy now, let alone secession. A united, free, and federalized Iraq would be the best of all possible results, and one that would transform the region. So far, they’re still on the right track.