Howard Dean

Howard Dean seems to have a lot of people confused. Some have bought into his self-proclaimed fiscal conservative record in Vermont, but it isn’t true (see here and here). I can understand the desire to flee from Bush’s disasterous fiscal record toward a divided government (Republican congress, Democrat president). Then we could have some gridlock. But Dean is the wrong choice. He’s much further to the left than Clinton was, and he would do more damage; even with a Republican congress.

Andrew Sullivan takes Dean to task for this gaffe on Chris Mathews’ Hardball:

Iran is a more complex problem because the problem support as clearly verifiable as it is in North Korea. Also, we have less-fewer levers much the key, I believe, to Iran is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran, I believe, most likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union and it may require us to buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran to prevent Iran from them developing nuclear weapons.

Ok, he did call Russia the Soviet Union four (not three) times. But, to be fair, I can imagine myself slipping into calling it that while trying to focus on another issue. And, he did call it the former Soviet Union earlier in the interview. So, he just misspoke (although Sullivan is right that if Bush had said this, the press would have a field day with it). Thus, I disagree with Sullivan that this reveals why he is unqualified to be president.

No, that came earlier (pardon the poor transcription):

MATTHEWS: There are so many things that have been deregulated. Is that wrong trend and would you reverse it?

DEAN: I would reverse in some areas.

First of all, 11 companies in this country control 90 percent of what ordinary people are able to read and watch on their television. That’s wrong. We need to have a wide variety of opinions in every community. We don’t have that because of Michael Powell and what George Bush has tried to do to the FCC.

MATTHEWS: Would you break up Fox?


MATTHEWS: I’m serious.

DEAN: I’m keeping a…

MATTHEWS: Would you break it up? Rupert Murdoch has “The eekly
Standard.” It has got a lot of other interests. It has got “The New York Post.” Would you break it up?

DEAN: On ideological grounds, absolutely yes, but…


MATTHEWS: No, seriously. As a public policy, would you bring industrial policy to bear and break up these conglomerations of power?

DEAN: I don’t want to answer whether I would break up Fox or not,

because, obviously


MATTHEWS: Well, how about large media enterprises?

DEAN: Let me-yes, let me get…


DEAN: The answer to that is yes.

I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.

MATTHEWS: So what are you going to do about it? You’re going to be president of the United States, what are you going to do?

DEAN: What I’m going to do is appoint people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one.

MATTHEWS: Well, would you break up GE?


DEAN: I can’t-you…

MATTHEWS: GE just buys Universal. Would you do something there about that? Would you stop that from happening?

DEAN: You can’t say-you can’t ask me right now and get an answer, would I break up X corp…

MATTHEWS: We’ve got to do it now, because now is the only chance we can ask you, because, once you are in, we have got to live with you.



MATTHEWS: So, if you are going to do it, you have got to tell us now.


MATTHEWS: Are you going to break up the giant media enterprises in this country?

DEAN: Yes, we’re going to break up giant media enterprises. That doesn’t mean we’re going to break up all of GE.

What we’re going to do is say that media enterprises can’t be as big as they are today. I don’t think we actually have to break them up, which Teddy Roosevelt had to do with the leftovers from the McKinley administration.


MATTHEWS: … regulate them.

DEAN: You have got to say that there has to be a limit as to how-if the state has an interest, which it does, in preserving democracy, then there has to be a limitation on how deeply the media companies can penetrate every single community. To the extent of even having two or three or four outlets in a single community, that kind of information
control is not compatible with democracy.

MATTHEWS: How-how far would you go in terms of public policy?


MATTHEWS: This is not-what you describe is not laissez-faire.

It’s not capitalism.

DEAN: It is capitalism.

MATTHEWS: How would you-what would you call it?

DEAN: I am absolutely a capitalist. Capitalism is the greatest system that people have ever invented, because it takes advantage of bad traits, as well as our good traits, and turns them into productivity.

But the essence of capitalism, which the right-wing never understands

” it always baffles me-is, you got to have some rules. Imagine a hockey game with no rules.”

This all bothers me a great deal because the president does have a great deal of power to affect regulation of the economy and Dean seems like a dangerous man in this area.

The impression that I have of Dean, and many leftists, is that they think they know how resources should be allocated and are willing to use the force of government to make that happen. I suggest that if they think that there’s an unmet demand for more media companies (for example) then there’s a great option for them to choose: they can enter the marketplace (or invest in entrants) and make a fortune while improving the competitive landscape. But they don’t want to do that; they’d prefer to tear down people who have succeeded in the market. They claim to have great concern for the poor and powerless, but they seem more preoccupied with attacking the successful than with helping the unsuccessful. It’s not the same thing.

President Dean would be a disaster for America.


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