Howard Dean Would Be a Disaster for the Democratic Party

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Mr. Fleming's new book, The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I , was published by Basic Books on June 1. He is a member of the corporate board of HNN.

Early in 1948, while he was trying to decide whom he should select to run with him as vice president in the upcoming election, President Harry S. Truman invented a phrase that deserves a long shelf life.  The liberals in the Democratic Party were trying to convince him that he should accept Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas as his running mate. Truman had severe doubts and explained them in his diary as follows:

He [Douglas] belongs to the crowd of Tommy Corcoran, Harold Ickes, Claude Pepper crackpots whose word is worth less than Jimmy Roosevelt's...No professional liberal is intellectually honest. That's a real indictment - - as true as the Ten Commandments..."

Bruce Allen Murphy's recent biography of Douglas,Wild Bill, The Legend and the Life of William O. Douglas, has validated Mr. Truman's judgment in spades. Murphy convincingly demonstrated that Douglas lied about almost every aspect of his career, abused women sexually in his supreme court offices and wrote some of the most superficial opinions in the history of the high court. While Douglas lived, these misdeeds were either ignored or forgiven by his liberal peers in the media and the Democratic Party.

This brings us to the current front runner in the race for the Democratic nomination. Dr. Howard Dean. He has already shown alarming symptoms of professional liberalism. Let us start with his dismaying indifference to the truth. Recently, he and other Democratic candidates were asked to list their closest living relative in the armed services. Dr. Dean listed his brother, Charles, who had vanished on a trip to Laos in 1973 at the age of 23. Charles Dean was never in the military and was passionately opposed to the Vietnam War. He entered the war zone in a naive attempt to find evidence against the American effort to defend Southeast Asia and was probably murdered by Communist guerillas. His body was discovered a month ago.

Dr. Dean has also denied he encouraged a theory that the Saudis warned President Bush of the 9/11 attack in advance and he did nothing. In a recent debate in Iowa, he angrily informed Senator Kerry:"I said I didn't believe it and I said it right on that show." An examination of the National Public Radio tapes of the show reveals he made no such statement.

Then there is the matter of Dr. Dean's religious faith. Within twenty four hours of the New Republic's publication of a hardhitting article, pointing out that Dean, like most professional liberls, had no visible religious faith, which would almost certainly be a liability in a race with George W. Bush, Dean was telling reporters of his profound faith in Jesus and his frequent reading of the Bible.

The doctor blamed his previous failure to mention such an important part of his life on growing up in the Northeast, where religion is seldom a subject for public discussion. This contention must have startled at least two of his Democratic rivals, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who frequently mentions his Orthodox Jewish faith, and the Reverend Al Sharpton, who is campaigning as an ordained minister.

One of the reporters on the candidate's plane asked Dr. Dean his favorite book of the New Testament. He said it was the book of Job, the story of a righteous man whom God punishes for mysterious reasons. An hour later, no doubt after frantic aides took him aside, Dean returned to tell the reporter and his fellow scribes that he had just recalled Job was in the Old Testament, not the New Testament. This magical insight was reported in humorless prose in the Washington Post, without the slightest attempt to suggest that Dr. Dean's religion was not quite as profound as he claimed.

The New Republic story substantiated this conclusion with a wry description of why Dean, who was raised an Episcopalian, left the Episcopal Church. He got into an argument with the Bishop of Vermont for declining to yield some church land so that Dean and his friends could build a bike path along the shore of Lake Champlain. The irate Dean switched to the Congregationalist Church. Again, this suggests a man whose theological thinking is nonexistent.

Another trait of the professional liberal is the tendency to put"principles" above party loyalty. Henry Wallace was the quintessential example of this impulse in Mr. Truman's era. In 1948, he bolted the Democratic Party to run as a progressive who berated the president for failing to ingratiate the Soviet Union and its leader, Josef Stalin. Dr. Dean has already announced that if he does not get the nomination, there is a strong likelihood that he and his 1.5 million supporters would look elsewhere for a politician worthy of their support. They were" certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician."

The 1.5 million backers who cheer Dr. Dean's denunciations of the war in Iraq have a strong and, for Democrats like me, unnerving resemblance to the 1,157,172 1948 voters who applauded Henry Wallace for his denunciations of Mr. Truman failure to trust Josef Stalin, the greatest mass murderer of the twentieth century. They also resemble the professional liberals who seized control of the Democratic Party in 1972 and ran another all out denunciator, in his case of the war in Vietnam, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. These criers of havoc seemed to have no awareness that they were tacitly endorsing a regime that specialized in mass murder of civilians in captured cities such as Hue, where more than 4,000 Catholic men, women and children were gunned down and in some cases buried alive, before U.S. forces regained control.

Rage is another trait of the professional liberal. Those who differ with him (or her) are not merely political opponents, they are evil enemies to be treated with contempt amd contumely. Thus Dr. Dean claims he is running against"The Republican wing of the Democratic Party." Henry Wallace was fond of suggesting his opponents were crypto-Nazis. Dean's followers go even further, and blatantly suggest there is no difference between Adolph Hitler and George Bush.

These traits have led not a few Democrats to suggest that Howard Dean will lead his party into the same calamitous defeat that engulfed it when Senator McGovern ran against Richard Nixon in 1972. The dimensions of the McGovern disaster are worth contemplating. President Nixon, a man loathed by liberals of all stripes and by the vast majority of the media, beat McGovern, 47,165,234 votes to 29,168,110. Nixon won 520 electoral votes, McGovern 17.

Perhaps I should add that Harry S Truman was a liberal. One of his biographers, Alonzo Hamby, devoted almost his entire book to proving that point. Truman backed a civil rights plank in the Democratic platform in 1948 that prompted Senator Strom Thurmond and 1,169,063 southern conservatives to bolt the Democratic Party. When Thurmond was asked why he was reacting so strongly to a statement that was remarkably similar to ones President Franklin D. Roosevelt had endorsed in previous Democratic platforms, Mr. Thurmond replied:"Yes, but Truman means it!"

There you have it, in a pungent quotation -- the difference between  a professional liberal and a genuine liberal.

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Marianne - 1/21/2004

"In my opinion, these people are not liberal they are simply Leftists which has little to do with liberalism."


Much as what pretends to be "conservative" in U.S. government these days is right wing and also far removed from true and traditional conservatism.

Lynn Schwartz - 1/20/2004

I don't entirely agree with Thomas Flemings analysis because I think he is generalizing terms way too much to be of much use. I do think, however, that Fleming does point out the confusion over the term "liberal" in contemporary political usage. It seems that the term "liberal" has, incorrectly, become exclusively associated with "leftist." Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for this state of affairs. Republicans frequently attacked their left-leaning opponents by labeling them "liberal." Conversely Leftist raise the flag of "liberalism" as a form of dissent from the Republicans. I think what Thomas Fleming is really saying is simply: Howard Dean is ABSOLUTELY a Leftist, but he is not a liberal as classically defined. I agree with this conclusion.
Also, in trying to summarize my thoughts on some of the less than productive political banter displayed here, especially those who desperately try to defend Howard Dean, I think I can make the point I outlined above. I am continually surprise at the vitriol that comes out of people who, I'm sure, consider themselves "liberal." They demonized Bush and Republicans as fascists and Nazis, a threat to "the people." They attack other Democrats as little more than Republicans in disguise. This does not seem to me to be a very "liberal" attitude. It is hypocritical for a "liberal," who believes in inclusion, equality, justice, and freedom, to scream hatred for people who have a different, perhaps conservative, vision of America than yourself. In my opinion, these people are not liberal they are simply Leftists which has little to do with liberalism

Don Williams - 1/19/2004

Anyone remember Bill Clinton pandering to NOW and the female vote by pushing draconic sexual harrassment laws? Anyone remember Commander-in-Chief Clinton abandoning Navy pilots --some with Vietnam experience-- who were blameless of wrongdoing at Tailhook but who nevertheless had their careers destroyed by female Democratic Senators?

Anyone remember Commander-in-Chief Clinton letting General Ralston swing in the wind --and be screwed out of promotion to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs --simply because Ralston had an affair 13 years earlier with a civilian woman?

Anyone remember what happened when the Commander-in-Chief was caught getting his wick cleaned by a subordinate?

Don Williams - 1/19/2004

If Clinton covers his bills in the 1990s by stealing $1 Trillion from the Trust Funds (for Social Security,etc.) then ,hey, Bush will steal $3 Trillion.

Don Williams - 1/19/2004

Other than kiss the butts of their wealthiest campaign donors and invite them to share in the screwing of the middle class?

Can anyone really discern any difference between Bush versus
Joe Lieberman, Kerry, Gephardt, and Edwards?? -- other than the fact that Bush is a whore to the rich by natural inclination whereas Dean's opponents can come up with all kinds of tortured sophistry explaining how they are whores by necessity??

REMEMBER THIS: Bush's own budget document for Feb 2003 showed a projected federal debt for 2008 of $9.3 Trillion,
an increase of $3.3 Trillion over what he had projected only 2 years earlier in his 2001 budget. I expect that his Feb 2004 budget document due out in a month will show an increase in 2008 debt of $4 TRILLION above what was project just 3 years ago.

Bush has written several $Trillion in IOUS on the Trust Funds for Social Security, Medicare,etc. Those IOUS will have to be paid off starting in 2011 as massive numbers of blue collar baby boomers start retiring. These payments will be above and beyond regular federal tax revenues. Future governments, therefore, will have to levy high taxes (60%+) on middle class IRAs/401Ks "before tax" assets. This is because Bush not only ran up $3.3 Trillion in debt but because Bush also shifted $2 Trillion in federal debt owed by the rich onto the middle class by borrowing $2 Trillion from the Trust Funds and using that money --instead of income taxes from the rich --to pay off Treasury Bonds coming due. Based on the number of people in the 40000-100000 income range, Bush had dumped about $70,000 onto each middle class taxpayer --they just don't realize it yet.

REMEMBER THIS: The nature of Bush's Enron accounting -- the dire impacts it would have on middle class savings in IRAs/401Ks -- was evident back in Jan 2001.

Yet Dean's Congressional opponents did nothing -- not even warning the public -- to stop Bush's screwing of the middle class.

Bush's genius has always been in discerning corruption within the Democratic leadership and mimicking that corruption, knowing the Democratic politicians would not dare criticize him for fear of exposing themselves.

If Democratics pander to Hispanics in California and Florida -- by allowing massive numbers of immigrants, even though that greatly screws their blue collar, union, and Afro-American constituents -- Hey, Bush will go them one better.

If Democratics pander to Israel for the sake of huge donations by Israeli supporters like Haim Saban (who gave $12 million to the Democrats in the 2002 cycle) and AIPAC -- hey, Bush will sell 52 F16s to Sharon in June 2001. So what if that provokes a Sept 11 which kills 3000 Americans?

If Haim Saban's Middle East program at Brookings then recos taking out Hussein--seen as a threat by Sharon-- then, Hey, Bush will spend American $billions and American lives to take out Hussein. He knows that the Democrats won't offend Mr Saban, AIPAC, etc by saying anything. Hence, Kerry's ridiculous, mumbling, inarticulate attempts to explain where he really stood on Iraq -- an explanation with so many tacks and gibes one would grow dizzy trying to follow it.

David - 1/19/2004

"...Bible team reading's leader..."

What in heaven's name are you talking about?

Maezeppa - 1/16/2004

This primary is as much about the battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic party as it is for the Presidency. Dean has been a marvelous catalyst for that, and would make a fine President as well. He's got a sharp intellect and can accomodate a steep learning curve.

It's fairly clear the DLC has made a giant rightward step and apparently has decided to make the 2004 candidate a sacrificial lamb and keep their aim on the 2008 election where I envision, possibly, a Clinton/Clark ticket.

The mistake in this thinking is that we can't afford it. The nation can't and the world can't.

Last, Flemming is an asshole.

Nemo - 1/16/2004

Fleming writes:

"This brings us to the current front runner in the race for the Democratic nomination. Dr. Howard Dean. He has already shown alarming symptoms of professional liberalism. Let us start with his dismaying indifference to the truth. Recently, he and other Democratic candidates were asked to list their closest living relative in the armed services. Dr. Dean listed his brother, Charles, who had vanished on a trip to Laos in 1973 at the age of 23. Charles Dean was never in the military and was passionately opposed to the Vietnam War. He entered the war zone in a naive attempt to find evidence against the American effort to defend Southeast Asia and was probably murdered by Communist guerillas. His body was discovered a month ago."

In the first place Howard Dean indicated that his brother had been listed as a POW-MIA by the US gov't, which is true (apparently US civilians captured by Communist forces in SE Asia were so listed). Howard Dean's reply to the question about military service in his family was misleading, but not an outright lie (par for the course for a politicain from either party).

But what I really want to bring up is Fleming's allegation that Charles Dean was in Laos to "to find evidence against the American effort to defend Southeast Asia". I would like to know what Fleming's source for that statement was. What I have read in the mainstream press suggests that Charles Dean was in Laos simply out of an immature desire to be in a war zone, not out of a desire to impede or undermine the US war effort.

dogen - 1/16/2004

After reading "Illusion of Victory"—I finished the book only last night—how fascinating to read Thomas Fleming's take on Dean and the Democrats. "Illusion" skewers Woodrow Wilson as a feckless poser whom Keynes described as equipped with "all the intellectual apparatus of self-deception." John F. Kennedy thought Wilson overrated, perhaps ironically in that both, when not soaring to rhetorical heights, exhibited an antidemocratic penchant for intervention and coolness toward civil rights while credited for their idealism. The remarkably petty, myopic, indeed almost unhinged tone of the attack on Dean causes me to wonder if Fleming isn't more than a little dizzy from rocking so feverishly on what is obviously a hobby horse: so-called professional liberalism, which, as others note above, is more epithet than analytical category. It relies on techniques more suited to the arsenal of the propagandist than the disinterested historian. Surely a far better choice for membership in the spurious party of card-carrying professional liberals that includes Henry Wallace is Ralph Nader. But apparently the finer distinctions here elude Fleming as they did Nader in 2000, who repeatedly conflated the two major parties with equivalent fairness and intellectual rigor. I can only say it is illuminating, if disconcerting, to read Fleming in such slovenly dress, and it certainly raises questions about the interpretations in "Illusion." It goes to show how much all of us can use a good editor before stepping out in public.

Jeff Thompson - 1/16/2004

Real Democrats are focused now:

1) on the issues facing this country, such how to repair the damage to our security and foreign affairs resulting from the neocons' costly fiasco in Iraq, how to rescue the federal budget from the bankruptcy threatened by Dubya's C-minus economic policies, etc.

2) on the question of which Presidential candidate to unite behind

3) on how to raise the collective IQ of the U.S. Congress to at least double digits by electing some more intelligent reps there.

Real Republicans are questioning whether the radicalism of George W. Bush is compatible with traditional conservatism. The more informed and open-minded among them are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Bush's non-conservative, loose cannon lunges at leadership.

Pro-"W" hacks posing as Democrats (e.g. Fleming) are preoccupied with smearing whomever the current frontrunner might be in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes.

David - 1/15/2004

But I have never heard any liberal say anything this simplistic.

Derek, see LA Dude's post #28585

NYGuy - 1/15/2004


I am not sure you are following the line of this post. Dave expressed a sincere opinion based upon his life experience and said he came to the same conclusion as the author of the article. This was a specific statement not a generalization.

Seems that an anonymous poster turned this into a so-called joke by using the headline "Liberism is the root of all Evil Axes". This was arrived at through a contoured piece of logic and was OT and had nothing to do with Dave's comments.

Dave responded:

“All the good guys are, and always have been, conservatives this is a derivation of the oft heard Leftist straw man, "liberals all bad, conservatives all good."

You bought into this false strawman argument and said:


You write about the "leftist strawman 'liberals all bad, conservatives all good.'" First off, were there such a straw man it would run exactly the other way. But I have never heard any liberal say anything this simplistic. Which means you are invoking a straw man in order to defeat a straw man that does not exist! Now that is a daily double of chutzpah. I almost admire it.


Good try Derek but your invoking double voodooism does not apply in this case. Seems you and LA Guy are on the same wave length but are only arguing among yourselves on something that no one on this board said. Although you claim to “never have heard any liberal say anything this simplistic” you completely ignore liberal LAGuy’s statement and attack on Dave.

Dave’s comment was not taken seriously by anyone on this board as we all recognized the “good vs. bad as a weak attempt by a liberal to sound intelligent.

Seems it did not work but some fell into the trap.

NYGuy - 1/15/2004

I enjoy dealing with you it reminds me of my grandchildren. I am still waiting to know what you know. So far it has been not much.

But, although I had a wonderful time with my 6 year old and my 3 year old recently, I have now returned to the adult world. Hope you reach that level sometime.

Your posts are priceless and liberals wait with great anticipation to your next brillance.

Since I have nothing to lose you can be the winner.

Good luck champ.

NYGuy - 1/15/2004

LA Guy,

You don't even know what city your in. Name calling somewhat for the sake of being heard does not contribute anything to this board.

Why don't you read Cyrano to learn something.

John Moser - 1/15/2004

"And how come Dean is kicking everybody else's behind in Iowa and New Hampshire?"

Well, we'll see. It seems to me that Dean has already attracted all the support that he's likely to get, and it's no more than a third of primary voters (and in many cases far less). If Dean is ahead at the moment, it's because the (marginally) more moderate Democrats are split among the various other candidates. As they begin to drop out of the race, I suspect we'll see Dean's lead evaporate fairly quickly.

LADude - 1/15/2004

NYGuy, You do indeed have a record. So did your hero Chairman Mao with his little red book. He sure made the world stand up and notice. Come on, why not say it, fifty times in fifty messages:

Chairman Mao ! What a genius ! What a guy !

A Communist supporter of Bush like you, NYGuy, can't really be from New York. Why don't you tell us you're really from ?

LA8RDUDE, surfs up now.

Derek Catsam - 1/15/2004

David --
You write about the "leftist strawman 'liberals all bad, conservatives all good.'" First off, were there such a straw man it would run exactly the other way. But I have never heard any liberal say anything this simplistic. Which means you are invoking a straw man in order to defeat a straw man that does not exist! Now that is a daily double of chutzpah. I almost admire it.

David - 1/15/2004

this is a derivation of the oft heard Leftist straw man, "liberals all bad, conservatives all good."

Tactic: set up the phony strawman and go for the cheap victory.

NYGuy - 1/14/2004

I have a record on this board which you don't and I am right in what I have to say.

An attempt to distort my record from a lightweight does not carry much weight.

By the way aside from name calling what is your contribution to this board.

Take a few days off to form an answer.

Marianne - 1/14/2004

You're welcome for the illumination.

But it's not at all clear that Dean will need to "flip".

But of he does, I'm sure he can manage at least as well as George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative and uniter not divider, has done.

But it remains to be seen if any of his "conservative" stands are at all inconsistent with his "liberal" ones. Maybe, as I've already suggested, it's the labels that are themselves irrelevant.

Marianne - 1/14/2004


Well, Caleb mentioned the fact that the Dems polled the majority of the popular vote in the last presidential election so that puts the lie to the idea that they are "on the way out."

I'm kind of fascinated by your generalization about who belongs to the party:

"By and large the Democratric Psarty is cpomposed of those of the inner city on welfare, government employees, labor unionists (a rapidly dying institution)& academics."

Remembering for the moment that Bush and Co are in fact "government employees" and that the Republicans are in the majority in the federal executive and legislative branches--and I assume are employing mostly Republican political appointees--not to mention their recent hires in the ballooning federal work force, what have you got against gov't employees? Or is it just DEMOCRATIC gov't employees you dislike?

Likewise cities....while I know you can find plenty of Dems down on the farms--go to Iowa and Vermont, for example...what makes you think urban centers are only for Dems? What about Giuliani and Bloomberg?

Go to:

to look at Dean supporters self identifying...plenty of variation there--rural and professional folks, church goers, veterans, and the spouses of military people...

Or look at:

to read what a few Republicans who are supporting Dean are saying...

Like I said before, these stereotypes about left and right and liberal and conservative are increasingly inoperative. Zell Miller--a Democrat--is supporting Bush. Wesley Clark, who voted for Nixon and Reagan is running as a Democrat...

The main thing I appreciate about Dean is his true grassroots support.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, George W. Bush has raised 73 percent of his $130 million campaign funds through maximum individual contributions of $2,000 each, and only ten percent have come in from donations of less than $200.

But Howard Dean raised nearly three-fifths of his over 40 million dollar total from contributions of less than $200, and only 13 percent of the Dean total has been from $2,000 donors.

Now those are Main Street supporters supporting Dean. That's grassroots!

tim - 1/14/2004

This is a tenentious attack that greatly overrates Harry Truman and misrepresents Howard Dean--and I am not backing Dean, necessarily. I think there are several good candidates and I have not made up my mind yet. Truman knew where the votes were--and that's why he played civil rights politics in 1948. In private, he used racial epithets, believed racial stereotypes, and had no close relationships with African Americans, even when they were stalwart Democrats smarter than he was. There may be reasons not to vote for Dean--though I plan to back whomever the Democrats nominate. But if Howard Dean is such a weak reed, how come Gore, Bradley, Harkin, and now perhaps Jimmy Carter are backing him? None of these people fits into the somewhat contrived "professional liberal" category Fleming posits. And how come Dean is kicking everybody else's behind in Iowa and New Hampshire? I am not selling Dean, but he seems to be doing a good job of it, and deserves a fair hearing.

F.H. Thomas - 1/14/2004

Thanks for your illuminating characterization of Dean as a real conservative (on many issues) while Governor.

I believe that the next question is whether he can survive the sheep dip persona of ultra wild liberal and anti-war extremist which he assumed when he went presidential. His followers look at him as a liberal. Can he change back again?

I recall that the only politician who successfully managed such a massive re-flip was George Wallace, post assassination attempt, when he became Gov again.

Peter K. Clarke - 1/14/2004

If you are an historian, Mr. Entenmann, you are invited to to do a bit of what historians do, go to the archives, i.e. the backlog of past articles (lower left corner of main home HNN page). I think you will find there abundant examples of politicization throughout HNN's 3 year history. This is not a new deviation, it has been a fundamental purpose from the get-go.

LA Dude - 1/14/2004

NYGuy, We all like to rant from time to time, don't we ?
At least my rants do not support the totalitarian Chinese government the way many of yours do. I hope Dave Livingston
realizes that supporting communism is not real conservatism.

Caleb - 1/14/2004


With due respect, every poll that has been done fly in the face of your premise that "the Democratic Party... is on the way out of the American political scene."

It is possible that Bush will win reelection, and that the Republicans will maintain their hold of government, but considering the fact that Democrats recieved more popular votes for president than Republicans in the past three elections, and that the country is pretty evenly split, your hopes for a Democratic suicide is pure fiction. Not even Miller can change that reality.

Rob H. - 1/14/2004

Funny. Fleming pointed out Deans gaffe about Job being in the OT, but I seem to remember reading about Bush's Bible team reading's leader who hadn't a clue about the book (Luke) that they had been studying for over a year.

Anyone But Bush in 2004.

Robert Entenmann - 1/14/2004

Thomas Fleming has a right to hold and express his political opinions. But I thought this was a History News Network. It is becoming politicized.

William Monroe - 1/14/2004

Fleming begins by suggesting that Dean's "dismaying indifference to the truth" disqualifies him from the presidency. Considering the most recent four presidents, I'd say that an "indifference to the truth" would put Dean right in the mainstream.
I am not enthusiastic about Dean, but why waste my vote on any one of these candidates who voted for Bush's war and Bush's tax cuts. We already have that president. Let's have the real Bush or real alternative, not someone who is afraid to question his policies because they "appear" to be popular.

Caleb - 1/14/2004

I must disagree with your assesment of liberals.

1) "They tend to be morally flexible (hedonistic), flexible when imparting information (don't hesitate to lie if it serves their purpose & their word is frequently not to be trusted)"

This is mere opinion, and one in which many liberals would readily apply to conservatives (I know I would).

2) "are resistant to exploring viewpoints that contradict their preconceived notions (for instance, they generally lack the integrity to honestly consider the claims of revealed religion)"

Again, mere partisan attacks that could be equally applied to conservatives. When was the last time you heard a conservative consider the pro-choice side or give any consideration to the requests by homosexuals to be recognized. These things are dismissed as readily by many (certainly not all) conservatives as certain things are dismissed by many liberals. This is a national problem, not a liberal one.

3) "they are generally paraisitc in the sense they usually fail to serve in the armed forces, especially in time of war, preferring others carry that burden."

What an odd and inflammatory statement. With the exception of the Gulf War and those wars under the current Bush, every major military conflict this nation has had during the last 3/4 of the 20th century has been under Democratic presidents. Furthermore, 2 of the 5 or 6 (serious) candidates running for the nomination have extensive military experience in war, and one other was in the Air National Guard. In fact, Bush/Cheney is the first administration since WWII in which neither the president OR the VP fought in a war!!

4) "I remain a strong fan of J.F.K., but he was no Liberal in most respects, regardless the Left sometimes attempts to claim his mantle."

I have often noticed how conservatives feel the need to redefine JFK in order to deprive Democrats of a popular president. However, while most conservatives simply try to explain how the party has changed since then, this is the first time I heard the claim that JFK was not a liberal. He favored the Civil Rights Movement, and was a staunch supporter of government programs and intervention to make people's lives better. If JFK was no liberal, than Ronald Reagan was no conservative.

Barbara Cornett - 1/14/2004

It is very sad that politicians today have to pander to the masses by lowering the public debate to subjects like their personal religion. I don't think it is at all fair that people attempt to expose Dean as someone who attempts to falsely use religion to get votes while Bush and the whole Christian right is totally ignored. Yo! Remember the Christian right? Bush's use of Jesus to get votes and then his following that up with the most anti-Jesus acts that could be committed are completely ignored by the media while they once again parse every word of the democrats. How in the name of God can you complain about Dean invoking religion when Bush and the republicans have practically made it a necessity and the media which gives the public no facts so we can govern ourselves leaves people to decide who to vote for based upon their religion.

Dean has already acknowledged the fact that liberals need to get the votes of southerners who care about "guns, god and gays". The media knows what is going on but they support Bush and the hypocrisy of the right while exposing Dean.

I hope that my candidates, Kucinich and Edwards, I will support either one that gets the nomination, will talk about Jesus. I want them to get the votes of the poor Christian people who don't know anything about politics. At least if they get elected they will have policies that will help these people and be closer to what Jesus would do and that, therefore, is not the fraud of Bush and the christian right who if Jesus existed would damn them to hell for their sins.

Industry used religion in the south years ago when they split labor along race lines in Birmingham and Bessmer Steel. Using religion is nothing new in politics and I have no problem with democrats fighting back and using Jesus to do it. I'm not a beliver in any Jewish myth but I say God bless them.

Gerald Sorin - 1/14/2004

I'm afraid Thomas Fleming's little screed on Dean would not get a passing grade in any history course of mine -- nor ought it to anywhere else. I have great reservations about Howard Dean as a presidential possibility, but Fleming's piece is full of name calling, innuendo, and trivia raised to earth-shaking levels. And almost none of it is supported by hard evidence. Typical example is his use of the phrase "professional liberal" throughout with no definition except an irrelevant comparison to William O. Douglas. Most blatantly he claims that Dean's followers compare President Bush to Hitler. I suspect this comes from one egregiously irresponsible ad designed by a non-professional entrant in MoveOn's ad contest. Tens of thousands of Dean supporters voted in that contest, and the so-called Hitler ad, a clear aberration among hundreds of responsible, substantive anti-Bush ads, finished with very few votes.
Thomas Fleming needs to be reminded that this is a place for history postings, not irresponsible, unsubstantiated partisan nonsense.

NYGuy - 1/14/2004

LA Dude you obviously did not read Dave's comments. Your clever switch to a straw man does not change what he says nor does it create the imaginary conclusion you post.

LA Guy

All the good guys are, "and always have been, conservatives"


I don't see where Dave said "all the good guys have been conservatives. So your comments only reflect you desire to rant on.

If you really knew history you would understand that Dave's comments of his own experience and his transformation gave reasons for why "he as an individual" evolved into his new political position. None of which you addressed in your response.

You are correct, however, as you say:

"If only I'd studied History with Dave Livingston and Toto"

As I tell my children, when all else fails read the instructions.


LA Dude - 1/13/2004

Of course, how could I not realize ?

All the good guys are, and always have been, conservatives:

Adam Smith, father of conservative free trade policy,

FDR, solid traditional upholder of conservative, pro-growth, low tax, Keynesian economics,

Nathan Bedford Forrest, who sure knew how to take care of liberal Republican carpetbaggers and their evil liberal miscegenism,

and, last but not least,

Pat Buchanan, our conservative champion, who exposes the dangerous leftwing pro-"sucking sound" of the atheistic Wall Street Journal with its diabolical support for liberalizing immigration. What a shame that parasitic, hedonistic liberal Republicans chose liberal, cocaine-sniffing George W. Bush instead of "from the right" star Buchanan !

Never realized how simple life is. Liberal=bad, Conservative=good. If only I'd studied History with Dave Livingston and Toto.

Dave Livingston - 1/13/2004


It will be great for Bush & the Republicans if Dean does win the nomination. If he does, it will be further evidence that the Democratic Party is committing suicide. It is on the way out of the American political scene, because its Liberal wing has lost touch with reality and the American people. By and large the Democratric Psarty is cpomposed of those of the inner city on welfare, government employees, labor unionists (a rapidly dying institution)& academics. In short, most people aren't on welfare, work for the government, belong to labor unions nor are academics.

For a survey of the Democratic Party's approaching demise, you might read Zell Miller's "National Party No More." & don't write Miller off casually, he was a two-term (Democratic)governor & now a U.S. Senator who has said he will vote for Bush come November.

Dave Livingston - 1/13/2004


Skipped placing the word "conservative" between inherently & Kansas

Dave Livingston - 1/13/2004


Skipped placing the word "conservative" between inherently & Kansas

Dave Livingston - 1/13/2004

Here with Bill Bailey we see a voice on the Left which will be flaberghasted with uncomprehension come election day 2004 that Bush & the Republicans bury the Democrats in a landslide. I have little doubt that Bush, Karl Rove & company are quietly cheering Dean on, because he is a lamb for them to lead to slaughter.

IMHO Fleming's assessment of the commited, "professional," Liberal is highly accurate. They tend to be morally flexible (hedonistic), flexible when imparting information (don't hesitate to lie if it serves their purpose & their word is frequently not to be trusted), are resistant to exploring viewpoints that contradict their preconceived notions (for instance, they generally lack the integrity to honestly consider the claims of revealed religion), they are generally paraisitc in the sense they usually fail to serve in the armed forces, especially in time of war, preferring others carry that burden.

In short, once a bit of a Liberal meself (at least in terms of inherently smalltown Kansas) as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, I now despise the breed and consider them alien. By the same token, I remain a strong fan of J.F.K., but he was no Liberal in most respects, regardless the Left sometimes attempts to claim his mantle.

When Clinton attempted to drap himself in the legacy of J.F.K. about all he accomplished was to drag J.F.K.'s reputation through Chicken Willie's own slimy filth, to besmirch J.F.K.'s memory.

C.R.W. - 1/12/2004

at the expense of rallying LA Dude's ire, satire can be hilarious no matter which way it cuts.

Sorry NYGuy, you make an interesting point and some I find agreement in every now and then, but this guy's got everyone pegged.

I don't know if he's the newest apparition of Crazy Bigot. Haven't been following the site long enough to identify everyone's telltale sylistic features.

I'll probably enjoy it until he comes after me!

LA Dude - 1/12/2004

Dean is basically no different than the rest of the Bush-hating, terrorist-excusing Democrats. Except that he is leading the pack, which means he must be the worst of the lot. Our magnificent president holds his head up high to protect us against dangerous leftists like Dean and their racist fellow-travellers like Byrd, and his apologists in Marxist-infested college history departments who want to blow up tall buildings and then raise taxes on hard working SUV drivers.

George W. Bush is the greatest in a long line of great conservative presidents. He studied all about them while getting straight As in college himself, learning about their great deeds, and how to do even better himself, which now he has been able to do, thanks to that landslide three years ago.

Lincoln was a great conservative. Really stood up to those racist Democrats trying to enact affirmative action for southern states. Teddy Roosevelt too. How farsighted he was to stop liberal Democrats from enacting laws restricting free speech campaign contributions, or locking up productive land in wasteful national parks, or tampering with the free enterprise corporate trust system.

FDR was another great conservative. None of that socialist balanced-budget nonsense for him. And did he ever know how to do regime change ! If only he'd lived a bit longer. He wouldn't have stopped with just Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that's for sure. He would've turned Stalin's presidential palaces into a Chernobyl to end all Chernobyls, and bombed Hanoi back to the stone age to boot. Talk about shock and awe ! No Guantanamo shell games for him either, he locked up the underpowered-car-maker terrorists of his day in camps, right here in the good 'ol USA.

If only George W. Bush could have been around in the past though, how much more great conservatism could have been accomplished. Imagine him in Lincoln's place. No messing around with Vicksburg or Shenandoah, no sir ! Grant and Sherman would have been sent to root out enemy sanctuaries in the evil axis of France and Britain. No accommodation with pro-Palestinian Democrats after San Juan Hill either. Ol' W would've charged those Rough Riders right up to Democrat-terrorist national headquarters and trampled every last vintage of wrathful grapes in the halls of the Watergate Hotel. And, gosh and golly, just imagine George W. in the Pacific Theatre. He would never have let some lowly GI raise the flag on Iwo Jima. No way. Our great 21st century president really knows how act and talk presidential. He'd have done a fireside chat with Edward R. Murrow on a aircraft carrier and then planted the flag himself.

All those wishy washy leftists like Al Gore, Pat Buchanan, John McCain, Howie Dean, and Wes Clark too: They're just sore losers ! We won, guys. Tough cookies. Go back to your spider holes and let the real war heros run the show.

Michael Green - 1/12/2004

Perhaps Mr. Fleming would like to regale us now with his explanation of what makes a professional conservative? Addictions denied, lies, getting young Americans killed--that is conservative George W. Bush. Trying to destroy social programs and claiming morality while running around on his wife and serving divorce papers on her as she came out of cancer surgery--that is conservative Newt Gingrich. Very professional, indeed. And that is the class of people against whom Howard Dean runs. I will take Gov. Dean's professional liberalism over whatever form of conservatism they embody any day, and I tremble for my country if that isn't true of the majority of our population.

Ken Melvin - 1/12/2004

Aha, a liberal's opinion of Howard Dean. But wait this guy's no liberal; he sounds more right wing, another damned Charles Krauthammer or David Brooks telling democrats why they shouldn't run Howard Dean. Das ist sehr nett von Ihnen, Herr Fleming.
Does remind one of childhood days when one kid always wanted to play his favorite game according to his own rules, doesn't it? Some people just can't stand to lose. Opposition to have one leg tied behind them. Hell, that's too risky. Break both Dean's legs. Then hold him under to the count of 40 in that baptismal font. Yes, Nixon showed how to beat a good honest man. McGovern didn't lose because he was intelligent, patriotic, or liberal. He lost because Nixon wanted to play his game by his rules and just for good luck for break both George's legs. The media helped all they could. Here, in SF, McGovern could be in town, give a major speech on say Tues. The SFChron would mention it on Wed. Pat Nixon could be in town to address a local HS Pep Rally ( Dick couldn't get out because of the protests, er, presidential duties). Pat's visit would front page the day of the visit.

Don't know if Justice Douglas and Bill Clinton met, but if they did, it would have been the best act in town. Those two boys could have found many an idea to toss about. Douglas would have no use for the current resident twit. Like Shaw, he didn't suffer fools at all well. In Shaw's ‘Caesar and Cleopatra' as I recall, she sets about to tell Julius what he should think about a certain matter and Julius tells Cleopatra that he knows what he thinks, doesn't need someone tell him.

So, thanks but no thanks Mr. Fleming

Bill Bailey - 1/12/2004

Real Democrats, whose knowledge of recent history does not come from HNN, know that no "disaster" in the upcoming primaries could be worse than the disaster already visited upon the whole country and the world by the spineless support of Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt et. al. for the blank check issued to an incompetent White House to wage a blunder-ridden war and occupation that could otherwise, as in 1991, have been legitimate, multilateral, and -in accordance with now moribund "doctrine" of the now moribund Colin Powell- had a viable exit strategy.

Marianne - 1/12/2004

Or is it that they just don't need Howard Dean?

Assigning labels and constructing snug little compartments in which to house people and their ideas is a perenially enjoyable diversion in some political circles...including HNN where words like "liberal", "Stalinist", "Trotskyite", "neocon", "Likudnik" etc. are often flung back and forth in the discussions. Rarely do such labels illuminate or further a discussion beyond ramping up the volume and the vitriol. Here, about Dean...well, heck, it's just inaccurate.

Anyone who has looked at Howard Dean's record as governor would never call him a liberal.

For one thing, Dean favors the death penalty. For another, his record on gun control while governor of Vermont earned him an "A" rating from the NRA.

What about the ways he balanced the budget year after year and boosted the state's credit rating to the highest in New England by significantly curtailing state debt? I'm a liberal and I like that, but fiscal restraint is not usually associated with the label "liberal". Well, until "conservative" hard spending G W bush came along, that is.

It's come out time and again that, while governor, Dean continually infuriated "liberals" with his centrist stances.

So now he's running as an angry Dem speaking out against the deceptive Bush policies that led to the invasion of Iraq? Now he's holding the Bushies' feet to the fire for their jobless recovery and exploding deficits?

To me, that doesn't make him a "professional" liberal. It makes him a savvy pol playing to a deeply divided electorate and charging up the Dem base.

It remains to be seen whether he will be the eventual Dem nominee but, historically speaking, 2004 is so very little like 1972 or 1948 sociopoltically and culturally (if not even looking at the ways technology has re-shaped the landscape that comparisons with politicians and their take on things are almost quaint.

Even if Tom Harken thinks Howard is "this generation's Harry Truman."

bisconon - 1/12/2004

I'm surprised this got posted to the front page.