Governor Dean says the Democrats' 2004 presidential aspirations are doomed if he doesn't get the nomination. Dean's Democratic opponents say the Democrats are doomed if Dean does get the nomination. I think they're both right.
Dean said, "If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, … (are) going to go? They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician."
Dean has a point. He's the only one who's been able to fire up the Democrat base. If his opponents can't do that, how can they woo the general election voter? But the very qualities that make Dean so attractive to his extremist base make him a dark horse in the general election as well.
He is antiwar and anti-Bush to the point of seeming irresponsible. He's irascible to the point of seeming unstable. And he is profoundly weak in the areas he needs to be strongest in: foreign policy and national security.
President Bush excels in these areas, which is quite ironic, considering that a few short years ago, elitists were lampooning Bush for mispronouncing the names of obscure foreign leaders. They still deride him for his allegedly simplistic worldview.
What compounds the irony is that the elitists' favorite party, the Democrats, are about to nominate a guy (Dean) who is very unsophisticated and unknowledgeable in foreign affairs and actually does have a simplistic worldview. The Boston Globe reports that Dean's worldview is that of "a doctor who wants to see evidence of a problem and fix it, rather than an idealist with lofty academic visions."
Recognizing this, the Democratic establishment recently organized a six-hour foreign policy tutorial for Mr. Dean. But neither that little homeschooling session, nor Dean's sit-downs with former President Clinton have kept him from further blunders. Dean referred to Russia as the Soviet Union, a faux pas virtually ignored by a media that pilloried Mr. Bush for much less.
Even if we overlook that mistake, it's hard to ignore other evidence revealing Dean's surprisingly shallow foreign policy perspective. He said we should demand that Pakistan cough up Osama bin Laden or go in and get him ourselves, overlooking the complexities facing Pakistani President Musharraf's delicate hold on power and how much his support means in the war on terror. Dean's own advisers have admitted to his naivete on this, as well as his limited understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader Middle East picture.