Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Dean Loses the Press
I have noticed over the past few weeks that whenever Dean makes an appearence, attends a debate, or airs an ad, it is not long before the press -- not just bloggers -- points out his contradictions. I think this is going to be the "script" that the press will adhere to for some time to come. Just like Bush is dumb, Clinton a womanizer, Gore a fibber, Bush I out of touch, and Reagan senile, Dean is now officially a flip-flop artist and anything he says will pass through this filter. I can't say I'll shed any tears for him, but I think he is going to get more press skepticism than other candidates because of this.

Today, it was USA Today that pulled Dean's pants down. This article quotes Dean from 1995 writing:

I have reluctantly concluded that the efforts of the United Nations and NATO in Bosnia are a complete failure. [...] Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action.

Not only does USA Today present this letter, which makes Dean look unprincipled (maybe Dean made himself look unprincipled. --ed.) but they also connect all the dots, just in case the reader missed it:

The language appears to contradict Dean's core complaint that President Bush has followed a unilateral foreign policy, instead of a multilateral approach that relies on consultation and joint action with allies.

Then, they go on to embarrass a Dean spokesman and make him look like a liar (maybe he made himself look like a liar. --ed.). This guy, Ben-Ami gives the old "imminent threat" lie, and then, instead of pulling a NYT, they actually call him on it.

Bush "sold the war on the basis of an imminent threat to U.S. security, and that has now been shown to be false," Ben-Ami said. Since the threat from Iraq was not imminent, the administration could not properly justify the war, he said.

However, when Bush laid out the case for the war in his 2003 State of the Union address, he said the United States should not wait for an imminent threat.

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent," Bush said. "Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein ... is not an option."

Dean had an uphill battle anyway, but if the press actually challenges his most outrageous statements, it will be impossible for him to win.

Update: Peggy Noonan also says Dean has lost the press.

The press has kicked in and is playing a part in the drama. The journalistic establishment has become an anti-Dean mover. Tuesday's New York Times piece on the absent Mrs. Dean, for instance--that was a piece with a sting. They decided to front-page it six days before the caucuses. The morning network news shows and the cable news shows are full of Mr. Dean's gaffes, Mr. Gephardt's rise and Mr. Edwards's potential.

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