Anybody But Dean

Economist.com | Lexington
I would prefer Dick Gephardt to Duck, M.D. but only reluctantly. As the article points out in the final paragraph, Gephardt is a strong protectionist and has been on the wrong side of every economic issue for the last twenty years.

His leadership of the Democratic caucus in the House has also coincided with the demise of the Democratic Party in this country. Gephardt can’t be blamed directly for this failure, but he didn’t do anything to help that I’m aware of.

PERHAPS Al Gore really is cursed. Last week this column argued that his endorsement made Howard Dean look unstoppable. Then a diabolus ex machina appeared to throw a weighty obstacle in the good doctor’s path. The unearthing of Saddam Hussein has not only left Dr Dean looking visibly discombobulated; it has also relaunched the search for an alternative Democrat to take on George Bush. It may be hard to overhaul the former Vermont governor so late in the day, but that has not stopped the Anyone But Dean lot marching into action again.

Saddam’s discovery solidified the party establishment’s swirling fears about Dr Dean’s anti-war insurgency. What happens if the Baathist “dead-enders” really do come to a dead end? Or if Mr Hussein’s trial fixes the spotlight on his crimes against humanity rather than those missing weapons Dr Dean bangs on about? The White House will paint Dr Dean as the man who would have left a monster in power. Many Democrats worry that this could spell doom not just in the presidential fight but also in the battles for the Senate and the House.

For one man, the resumption of the search for an ABD candidate could not have come at a better time: Dick Gephardt. The veteran congressman is not the most hawkish candidate. That honour goes to Joe Lieberman, who this week accused Dr Dean of hiding in his “own spider hole of denial” when he says Saddam’s capture makes America no safer. But Mr Lieberman has little chance of appealing to the party’s powerful leftists.

[….]

And so he has a glimmer of hope — but only a glimmer. If Dr Dean fails in Iowa, he could well win New Hampshire the next week. If Mr Gephardt fails in Iowa, his candidacy is dead. More than anything else, Mr Gephardt’s emergence as the most likely ABD candidate shows what a state the Democrats are in.

It is not just that no sitting House member has won the presidency since James Garfield in 1880. If Mr Gephardt wins, the Democrats may come to wonder whether ABD should have stood for Anyone But Dick. They will have as their candidate a man who has been far to the left (and usually wrong) in just about every economic argument of the past two decades, and whose leadership in the House has coincided with a relentless decline in his party’s fortunes. Still, unless Hillary Clinton steps into the race — and so far that dea is staying in her machina — Mr Gephardt’s Mondaleish brand of mid-western populism is the best weapon the ABD faction of his party can muster.

The article explains that Gephardt could have some appeal to the Reagan Democrats because of his union ties. Maybe. I’m hoping for Democratic defeat in any case. Dean and Gephardt are the only two realistic candidates at the moment and both would be devastating economically. They learned nothing from Bill Clinton’s Presidency, and that goes a long way in explaining the status of their party these days.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge has some thoughts on this article as well.

Link to Bainbridge via Steven.

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