Howard Dean is increasingly looking like he's come unhinged. While the Democratic front-runner shows no sign of slowing his long march toward his party's nomination, he has begun saying things that are not only irresponsible, they sound downright wacky.
First there was Dean's accusation that the president might have been warned about the September 11, 2001, attacks. On the Diane Rehm show on National Public Radio, Dean said, "The most interesting theory that I have heard so far, which is nothing more than a theory, I can't think -- it can't be proved, is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is."
Dean tried to back away from the nutty accusation a week later when interviewed by Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "Why would you say that," Wallace asked him, "Do you believe that?" To which Dean replied, "No, I don't believe that. I can't imagine the president of the United States doing that. But we don't know, and it'd be a nice thing to know."
A nice thing to know? I suppose it would be nice to know that the president is not really an alien from outer space sent to rule the world. But most of us who are sane creatures assume that is the case -- certainly no one has to prove it to us.
But Dean can't help himself from saying weird things. On Monday, in what was billed as his first major foreign policy address, Dean said that "The capture of Saddam has not made America safer."
No doubt Dean would be happier if Saddam were still on the loose, since he, and indeed many in the Democratic Party, had pointed to the inability to capture either Saddam or Osama bin Laden as one of President Bush's major failures in the war on terrorism. But to say that Americans are no safer with Saddam behind bars is just plain strange.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman accused Dean of "climbing into his own spider hole of denial." Lieberman sounded offended, as an American: "Saddam Hussein is a homicidal maniac, brutal dictator, supporter of terrorism and enemy of the United States, and there should be no doubt that America and the world are safer with him captured."
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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