Friday, December 26, 2003

It's not for lack of trying.

I mean, I'm not completely unwilling to hang a positive spin on a Dean story. Here, for instance, is the lede I was planning to use for this post.

"Fair is fair. In a development likely to send political shock waves as far as, well, my keyboard, I'm compelled to say it.

Howard Dean is absolutely right.

"I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama," he told the Concord Monitor, "who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials."

But HoHo couldn't leave well enough alone. Almost before the ink was dry on the Monitor edition, he was on the phone to the AP, taking it all back.

"As a president, I would have to defend the process of the rule of law. But as an American, I want to make sure he gets the death penalty he deserves."

Look, no reasonable person would consider Howard Dean soft on Osama. Why he feels the need to muddy the water on his approach to due process by responding to the right wing outrage of Drudge and Newsmax to his original remark completely escapes me.

That, in fact, was the real question raised by the original comments. When did Howard Dean have his Damascus road experience on the subject of due process? As a governor, he starved the Vermont defense bar in his budget while emphasizing the appointment of lawnorder judges who wouldn't get hung up on "legal technicalities." His new approach provided a glimmer of hope, really, for those of us who might be faced with the challenge of sucking it up and coming over to his side if he gets the nonimation. True to form, though, he ends up trying to have it both ways and satisfies no one.

Actually, the real story in the original article has been buried. The Monitor reported that "Dean questioned whether the Bush administration's use of force against Iraq had anything to do with Libya's announcement that it will scrap its programs for weapons of mass destruction."

Huh? I'd like to hear more about those questions.


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