Howard Dean’s complaints about the tenor of the campaign over the past month fell on mostly deaf ears this wek, the LA Times reports:
Democratic Party National Chairman Terry McAuliffe has no plans to play referee to what has become a vitriolic presidential primary, saying through a spokeswoman Monday that voters would decide whether the negative campaigning was good politics.
A number of other Presidential hopefuls had some pointed barbs for Dean after his suggestion that McAuliffe force them to tone down their attacks. For instance, Joe Lieberman pointed out that if Dean was quailing at this primary campaign, then perhaps he’s not ready for the championship round next fall. “If Howard Dean can’t stand the heat in the Democratic kitchen, he’s going to melt in a minute once the Republicans start going after him.”
John Kerry pointed out yet another Dean hypocrisy, which seem to appear on an almost daily basis. “He was the first candidate to attack in this campaign and the first to run negative ads, and he has been attacking Democrats and their accomplishments during the Clinton years from day one of this race.”
Gephardt gets even closer to the truth, plainly saying that the Dean campaign is complaining because their candidate is screwing up. “Howard Dean has spent the last year criticizing me and other candidates at every opportunity. Now as he makes a series of embarrassing gaffes that underscore the fact that he is not equipped to challenge George Bush, he suddenly wants to change the rules.”
But Joe Lockhart, the indefatigable mouthpiece of the Clinton administration, probably says it best: “When he’s attacked, he says it’s time to take his marbles and go home. What does he think will happen if he gets the nomination? Does he think the Bush people will say, ‘Let’s have polite debate’? Who’s he going to call then — his mother?”
The verdict: Howard Dean is a Jesse Ventura politician, for all the wrong reasons. He dishes it out but can’t take it. You can come up with several names for people like this, including crybaby and wimp, and worse. But you can’t escape the conclusion that Dean has puffed himself up way beyond his political and possibly emotional capabilities, and while he can probably coast to the Democratic nomination now, he’ll get crushed like a bug once Karl Rove has a shot at him. Even the leading Democrats don’t respect him any more.