As an independent, I believe strongly in the checks and balances of the two party system and thusly don’t like to see either party get too far down or up. I want elections, especially presidential elections, to be about the relative merits of the individuals running, not the relative efficacy of their respective parties.
And it is for these reasons that I am quite concerned about Howard Dean taking over as Democratic national chairman, a result that was ensured when his last rival, Timothy J. Roemer, a former congressman from Indiana, dropped out of the running.
Among the statements of concern:
ABC News’ The Note:
- If you haven’t asked several smart people if your icky favorable/unfavorable ratings matter, and, if they do, what is to be done about them, a case could be made that you are even less prepared for your new job than those who are most worried about the words “DNC Chairman Howard Dean” fear.
- “I got into this race five weeks ago to talk about the devastating loss we experienced in November,” Roemer said in an interview. “It was not about 60,000 votes in Ohio. It was about losing 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the country. If that’s a trend in business or politics you’re in trouble.”
Republicans are in the strongest position they’ve been in since the early 20th century, Roemer said. [Washington Post]
- “I think if Howard Dean is to be the spokesman for the party, he is going to have to become a different Howard Dean than the one who campaigned for president. So now the question is: What kind of coalition is he prepared to build? We’ll see if he can transform himself into one who represents all parts of the party — and not just the peace wing. Because the Democratic Party can’t win with those people being the vanguard of the party. It won’t work.’ ”
CNN poll: Dean – 31 percent favorable view among Americans in both parties, and 38 percent unfavorable view, with the rest undecided.
On the other hand:
Roll Call’s John Bresnahan and Erin Billings (subscription required):
- “In a series of phone calls with Reid and Pelosi last week, Dean has promised to help rebuild a Democratic Party that was beaten soundly at the polls in November, losing not only the battle for the White House but also ceding four seats in the Senate and another two seats in the House.”
“Dean has also promised party leaders that he won’t meddle in efforts to set Democratic policy. Instead, he has said he will focus on raising money and building the party infrastructure, hoping to boost the party’s prospects in campaigns beginning this fall with gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia.”
DNC member Steve Ybarra of Sacramento:
- “I hope the Republicans keep thinking that way, that they underestimate the governor.’ .. He argued that Dean’s portrayal as a raging liberal was inaccurate — and unfair because in Vermont, “he balanced budgets, increased medical care, financed schools and was endorsed by the NRA in every election. Now, there’s a left-wing guy if I’ve ever seen one.”
And Silicon Valley insider Wade Randlett, who backed John Kerry in the presidential race, said Dean has convinced his party that he’s just the ticket to pump up the volume against President Bush — and the GOP.
“When he’s on a Sunday morning talk show, it will be a little more interesting,” Randlett said. But, as national committee chairman, “it’s not Howard Dean’s position to offer a new policy prescription and platform; that’s (House Minority leader) Nancy Pelosi’s job and (Senate Minority leader) Harry Reid’s job.”
“Howard Dean’s job is to say the Bush approach to all of the areas is wrong — and to give a sense of why it’s wrong,” Randlett said. “And he’s not going to try to be so bright a star that he’ll dim other presidential candidates.” [SF Chronicle]
Not sure that last bit is exactly a ringing endorsement.