Bill Murchison

What Dean wants, he wants now, this very minute, and if that thing is ironclad guarantees of safety, and if President Bush doesn't deliver said guarantees, waaaaah! Dean seems to fancy Rome as having been built in a single day. Maybe he had an ancestor -- Quintus Deanus -- in charge of construction.

The slow, steady progress exemplified by the convening of bitterly opposed factions; the pursuit of reconciliation and compromise; the walkouts and the walk-back-ins; the stuff that went on in Afghanistan, for instance -- ahem; the governor of Vermont is Not Impressed. Won't do! Not enough! Iraq, you have to infer from the governor of Vermont's searching critiques, is a write-off so long as the United States tries to do it all alone.

The real pity is that, concerning Iraq, what the United States needs isn't cheerleading or poor-mouthing either one. It's realism and perspective. It's consolidation. Nothing like what we have been doing has ever been done before. We clomp through unknown territory. Even Republicans aren't sure how much more liberating they want to do for a while.

Hyped Up Howard's refusal to admit much, or any, good in Bush's Iraq policy destroys nuance and pushes Americans apart rather than inviting them to serious conversation about national ends. You wonder sometimes whether democracy -- the institution Afghanistan is buying into -- is all it's cracked up to be. Didn't democracy produce Howard Dean? It did. It also affords the chance to do something about him.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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