Though the presidential race has yet to even pseudo-simmer, the way it kind-of will once the so-called debates begin, my colleagues at Antiwar.com are already seething. They despise Howard Dean, and if you think peaceniks lack bile, try these quotations on for size:
"Aside from Dean’s position on the Iraqi war, I don’t see much in his candidacy that makes me feel hopeful, but then again I take AIPAC very seriously, having seen what they’ve done to politician after politician who didn’t toe their line. A cynical observer might argue that Dean recognized early that the road to the Presidency runs through AIPAC headquarters, and that he’s doing whatever is necessary to make that passage as smooth as possible."
Anthony Gancarski, "A Tale of Two Democrats"
"I want to apologize to my readers for ever saying a single good word about the double-talking, double-dealing, dubious Dean, a snake in the grass if ever there was one, slimier even than Bill Clinton. Just as Caligula was a piker, as Rome’s imperial villains go, compared to the megalomaniacal evil of Nero, so the damage done by President Dean will far surpass that done by any of his recent predecessors."
Justin Raimondo, "The Dean Deception"
Jeez, you’d think this was about something important, not just our quadrennial game of pin the crown on the Caesar. So Dean is slithering towards The New Republic, so his recent musings on Iraq evoke Bill Kristol’s "generational commitment," so he says we owe Israel and Liberia our blood and what’s left of our treasure. So what? If American history teaches us anything, it’s that regarding foreign policy, what candidates profess on the stump is nearly the opposite of what they do in the White House. With that in mind, Dean could turn out to be the least belligerent president since Warren Harding.
Look at the "peace" candidates who actually won in the last century. Woodrow Wilson clinched a tight race in 1916 by pledging not to feed Europe’s abattoir. Franklin Roosevelt beat his straw opponent of 1940, a proto-neoconservative, by recycling Wilson’s pledge. Lyndon Johnson pulled a rout by telling American mothers he would never send their boys to do what expendable proxies could do on the cheap. No one ever bellows from November’s dais, "If you elect me, your soaring taxes will build a cage around the Palestinians! Your children will impose democracy on Iran! I will sponsor covert wars in Colombia, Peru, and a thousand other nests of future blowback! I will give weapons to bloodthirsty a**holes to achieve dubious short-term goals! My successors will compare those a**holes to Hitler, then send your grandkids to die deposing them!" This is the sort of result we always get, but it’s not what candidates offer the gullible throng. Oh, they peddle spectacular visions, including the abolition of toil, discomfort, and the grave itself, but they never promise voters the one thing they can always deliver: more war.
But what if they did promise war, unabashedly pointless war without end? Presenting candidate Dean. The fact that he’s pushing an anything-but-humble foreign policy should be music to antiwar ears. We must remember that this is the age of Strauss. As the historical examples above indicate, politicians have always lied, but they once did so in a milieu of belief. No longer. Thanks to the work of such able disciples as Paul Wolfowitz, the Straussian gospel of the "noble lie" has become the dominant paradigm (no, I don’t like the word either, but one can’t think big thoughts without it). Today’s hip citizen understands that when a government spokesman says "X has weapons of mass destruction," this really means that X wouldn’t know yellowcake from carrot cake. When the president claims to be stamping out terrorism, he’s actually accepting the blame for terrorist acts to come. When Dean says, "Our long range foreign policy ought to embrace nation building, not run from it," surely he means, "The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible." He just can’t say so directly. Dishonesty is the new truth.
Unfortunately, we’re not all Straussians yet, so finding each other in a crowd is still difficult. If Dean is not lying, then supporting him would be a mistake. Of course, given the alternatives, who cares? At least Dean could give us a little suspense.