It is quite shameful what we have done to our truth speakers in this country, and even by our own party. The Bush administration used so many glittering generalities, so many talking points that pandered to the least among us intellectually.  We did not hear the truth at all.  Everyone was trying to be more patriotic than all the others, and they fell into the pattern of not even recognizing truth when it was told.  

Two things lately have been sticking in my mind about things that Howard Dean said that were perfectly obvious. He was roundly attacked for saying them, though we all knew they were true. Just simple everyday sensible truth was attacked.  There was so much of that, even from his fellow Democrats.  When they attacked Dean as they did, it made others think twice before speaking up.  Very unfortunate.

The first one that comes to mind was was his remark about being no safer with Saddam captured. He was giving a speech on foreign policy, December 15, 2003 to the Pacific Council.  You would have thought the world as we knew it ended that day.
Saddam’s capture has not made America safer

WASHINGTON – In a major foreign policy address Monday, Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean hailed the capture of Saddam Hussein as “good news for the Iraqi people and for the world,” but also claimed that his capture “could have taken place six months ago.”

“The capture of Saddam has not made America safer,” Dean also said in the speech.”

Lieberman: Dean in ‘his own spider hole’
That remark drew a caustic reply from one of Dean’s rivals for the Democratic nomination, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.

“Howard Dean has climbed into his own spider hole of denial if he believes that the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer,” Lieberman said. “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.”

Also John Kerry asserted a few days later:

On December 16, at Drake University in Iowa, Kerry asserted that “those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don’t have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.”

More critical words

Well, Dean was right, we are most certainly not any safer at all.

Another incident.  

In March, 2004, on Meet the Press, he raised eyebrows again.  He called Saddam what he was, a pathetic old man whom we had under control.  

DEAN: If they had simply said Saddam Hussein is a bad man and we should go take him out, the American people would have said no, we don’t think that’s worth the war.  Now, there have been a lot of justifications for attacking Iraq.  Most of them have turned out not to be true.  The argument is:  Did the capture of Saddam Hussein and the attack on Iraq make us safer?  I said no during the campaign.  I think it’s very clear that the answer is no.  We’ve spent 566 American lives and $160 billion when we should have been going after Osama bin Laden.  And that is why I think this president is weak on terrorism, not strong.

MR. RUSSERT:  Dr. Rice said that Saddam Hussein was the most dangerous regime in the world.

DR. DEAN:  “That was ridiculous.  This is a pathetic old man who we’d been containing for 12 years by overflights.  We had sanctions on him that were paralyzing him.  It turned out that there were no weapons of mass destruction, as the administration–although the administration said otherwise.  It turned out that there was no relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda or the killing of the 3,000 Americans at the World Trade Center, even though the administration tried to lead us in an opposite direction.  The administration simply did not tell the truth about Iraq.  The debate is not about whether we should fight terrorism.  I supported the war in Afghanistan because I think we did the right thing in Afghanistan, although I think the conduct of the war is not being very well-managed, after the fact.  But fighting Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism.”

MTP transcript from March 14, 2004

This was a low point in our history, a time when talking points ruled supreme.  A time when our side became so afraid of their side that we pandered and tried to be like them.  

Somedays now I feel like we are coming out from those dark times.  I hope so.  We got there because there was no one standing up and saying what needed to be said.  Unfortunately our side was almost as guilty in putting down voices of truth in that dark period.  

We are no safer at all with Saddam on trial.  We all knew it back when.  I am glad someone said it, the obvious…though many are still publicly in denial.

I found this today at the Rutland Herald.  It lifted my spirits.  I notice that Harriette Draper who made the video about the end of the Dean campaign called “Take it Back” posted in the comments there.  I ordered the video finally, maybe enough time has passed that I have things in better perspective.  Be sure to read her comments.

From the Rutland Herald:

Dean was right after all.


Watching the unfolding disaster the United States has helped create in the Middle East, I look back and think of Howard Dean.

Three years ago, Dean was running for president, and his campaign was stunning people with its ability to organize support and raise money over the Internet and to tap into the deep disillusionment over the Bush administration’s decision to abandon the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and start a war in Iraq. By late summer in 2003, he was in the top tier of candidates. A month later, he was the front-runner.

Dean was repeatedly attacked by a group of self-appointed spokespeople from the self-defined “center” of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Leadership Council. On May 15, 2003, DLC founder and CEO Al From and DLC president Bruce Reed wrote a memo entitled, “The Real Soul of the Democratic Party,” the first public strike against Dean. It drew a distinction between “real Democrats” and “activist elites,” a distinction Republicans were happy to pick up and run with. It warned that Dean — known up here as a moderate, even a conservative — was, by his persistent criticism of the Iraq war, leading the party to a November 2004 disaster:

“What activists like Dean call the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party is an aberration: the McGovern-Mondale wing, defined primarily by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home. That’s the wing that lost 49 states in two elections, and transformed Democrats from a strong national party into a much weaker regional one.”

And my heart smiled when I read this statement from the op ed.

Howard Dean, scorned as naïve, wacky, out-of-step, was right, and his critics were wrong. We have squandered hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and the situation in Iraq is more dangerous than ever. American troops, sent to that country under false pretenses and without adequate equipment or planning, are now being hoarded around Baghdad to confront a civil war. Twenty-five hundred Marines are being called up for duty because the Pentagon couldn’t find enough volunteers. The awful situation in Lebanon and Gaza is, in part, a product of the administration’s decision to abandon America’s previous role as broker in the area and tilt heavily towards Israel.

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