The Democrats and Saddam

Howard Dean, like most Democrats, has plenty of faults. From his ugly death penalty posture to his Israel fetish, Dean is surely far from ideal. But the governor’s latest comments regarding the US capture of the bearded Saddam have been right on the mark.

On Monday Dean fired up his Democratic opponents, and the White House by stating in a speech to the Pacific Council of International Policy; “The capture of Saddam has not made America safer. The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at extraordinary costs.”

It should be noted Dean would have supported a multilateral invasion of Iraq, but now he is testifying to his groupies that he stands by his early decision of opposing Bush’s unilateral war.

Of course, Dean vowed to keep on fighting terrorism, although he warned Saddam’s demise would not make the US a safer country.

The spiteful reaction from his dreary opponents hardly comes as a shock. Joseph Lieberman, most likely still a bit peeved about Al Gore’s drooling endorsement of Dean, exclaimed in a statement early Tuesday that Dean is in a “spider-hold of denial.” He went on to add that, “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.” Lieberman must think Hussein’s bunker was Internet ready, tied right into the counter insurgency.

John Kerry, a reluctant supporter of Bush’s war, released a statement on Monday that Dean’s “speech is still more proof that all the advisers in the world can’t give Howard Dean the military and foreign policy experience, leadership skills, or diplomatic temperament necessary to lead this country through dangerous times.”

Obviously these remarks should not come as a great surprise. The Democrats have yet to grasp a coherent platform in their feeble attempt to disarm Bush. But Dean knows he can’t turn his back on the grassroots support that has brought him this far. Most of his early supporters latched onto his campaign in its infancy because Dean opposed Bush’s war plans. And by standing strong, Dean is now turning into a self-proclaimed leader of the angry-wing of the Democratic Party–and if polls are an indication of his support, it’s clear most Democrats hate Bush to the marrow.

However, Dean’s remarks at Monday’s event were far from a peacenik Vermonter’s. Dean bragged about his support for the bloody wars in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, as well as Iraq Uno. And like an earlier statement that would endorse Bill Clinton as the US’s Middle East peace broker–he’s now saying that it’d be sensible to send Clinton over to North Korea as well. Dean said this after alleging that President Bush is “responsible for the fact North Korea has become a nuclear power.” If voters are looking to replace Bush with Howard Dean, we are likely to see a lot of neoliberal Bill Clinton, economically and foreign policy wise.

Of course, right on cue pious Bush challenged Dean’s statement by saying, “I believe, firmly believe — and you’ve heard me say this a lot, and I say it a lot because I truly believe it — that freedom is the almighty God’s gift to every person — every man and woman who lives in this world. That’s what I believe. And the arrest of Saddam Hussein changed the equation in Iraq. Justice was being delivered to a man who defied that gift from the Almighty to the people of Iraq.”

Lord help us.

After the photographs of Saddam, a “prisoner of (an illegal) war,” were paraded on global TV, Karl Rove was in the back-kitchen mixing up a tasty propaganda treat for us all.

Republican’s hope it serves as an ache in the stomachs of the Democrats disheveled foreign policy platform, as well as make their opposition mute. They are also hoping it knocks the wind right out of Howard Dean, and sucker punches the rest of the Democrats on the Iraq issue just like it did prior to the 2002 elections. The Republicans know a broken opposition is no opposition at all.

One can only contemplate the possibility that the Bush team has Osama bin Laden, and Mullah Muhammad Omar, in their waiting room, up next to be examined by US Army doctors. And nope, it won’t be Dr. Dean who will be seeing these fugitive patients. Rove knows this Taliban asshole and Al Queda guru, are the one-two combo that will virtually wrap up a Bush victory in 2004.

Despite Dean’s chicken-hawk pose on North Korea, he’s right-on when it comes to Saddam’s siege. Even as harsh critics, we have to call it as we see it. And it would be smart for the rest of the Democratic hopefuls to do the same. But, as Kerry and Lieberman’s comments suggest–there’s not a chance of that in a cold winter’s hell.

If the Democrats can’t even come together on an issue like Saddam’s capture, the likelihood they can forcefully oppose Bush in any coherent manner, is unlikely. The Democrats are ineffective, because the Kerrys and Liebermans are the voice of the party’s elite. And the loud angry carps bellowing from centrist Howard Dean, often out of tune and off beat, won’t be silencing the ghastly tone of the hopeless Democratic Party as a whole–even if Dr. Dean is right on this one.

JOSH FRANK is a writer living in New York. He can be reached at frank–joshua@hotmail.com


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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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