George Will

WASHINGTON -- Arthur Goldberg was a fine public servant -- secretary of labor, Supreme Court justice, ambassador to the United Nations -- but a dreadful candidate for governor of New York in 1970, when it was said that if he gave one more speech he would lose Canada, too. Howard Dean is becoming Goldbergean.

Regarding foreign policy, Dean recently said not only that America is no safer because Saddam is captured, but that America is ``no safer today than the day the planes struck the World Trade Center.'' Well. He says he supported the war to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan, although he thinks it made us no safer. And even though he says the war in Iraq made us no safer, he says he would ``not have hesitated'' to attack Iraq if the U.N. had given us ``permission.''

Because Dean's foreign policy pronouncements have been curiouser and curiouser, his recent domestic policy speech did not get the attention it deserved for its assertion that America is boiling with ``anger and despair.'' Republicans are, Dean says, trying to ``dismantle'' the welfare state -- presumably when they are not enriching Medicare's entitlement menu -- and they aim ``to end public education.''

Dean is why there is both good and bad news for Democrats in Newsweek's latest presidential poll. The good news is that George W. Bush is in a 46-46 dead heat when matched against an unnamed Democrat. The bad news is that the Democratic nominee will have, among other problematic attributes, a name, probably Dean's.

When a poll pits a known individual, with all his public record and personal imperfections, against a generic candidate, the people polled are apt to imagine the generic candidate as a blend of Abraham Lincoln and Tom Hanks. But Democrats are beginning to imagine Dean as their nominee, targeted by Republican ads recycling John Kerry's opinion that Dean lacks the ``judgment'' necessary for the presidency, and Dick Gephardt's charge that Dean ``can't even tell the truth" about his own record. When The New Republic, a liberal magazine, says Dean was ``churlish and puny'' about the capture of Saddam, small wonder the cover of National Review, a conservative magazine, features a picture of Dean in full bellow and says: ``Please Nominate This Man.''


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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