Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Who's the Liberal?

If you were given the choice between Howard Dean and John Kerry, who would you identify as the liberal? I bring this up not only because of Dean's fairly centrist record, but because I have spent too much time on Steve's Kerry blog today (here) and he has posted a slew of talking points for tomorrow's Meet Up for Kerry folks. To be sure, the list is not exhaustive of Kerry's positions, but to read them gives one a good glimpse of what the candidate is all about. Now, to a centrist Democrat like myself, the talking points read like a laundry list of positions designed to garner support from the liberal interest groups who control the Democratic nominating process. It is somewhat interesting to read because Kerry, to some degree, has tried to distance himself from the Massachusetts liberal stereotype. While he has not embraced the DLC's centrism, he has certainly made himself appear moderate, especially on matters of national security.
But some of that veneer has started to wear over the past few days as Kerry has launched full throated attacks on the President with regards to the Iraq war. He even goes so far as to allege that the President was negligent in not pursuing further international support via the UN (if Kerry did't realize that the administration was marching to war with the resolution he voted for, then he is indeed a gullible man). Part of Kerry's reasons for stepping up his attacks is the continued strength of Howard Dean, especially among angry anti-war Democrats.
The two men are each engaged in a bit of political crossdressing where the centrist Governor puts on a liberal cloak, made up solely on his opposition to the war and the fantasies of his supporters; and, the Massachusetts liberal tries to play dress up with Bill Clinton's clothes. But, if one simply goes to each candidate's site, and reads through where they stand on the issues, it becomes readily apparent that Dean is the moderate and Kerry is the true liberal. Although Dean is enjoying strong support from anti-war liberals, he has been open about his ideology and his fiscal conservatism, whereas Kerry has been content to be almost everything to everyone.


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