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Howard Dean

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Our Five-Year Mission…

“Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

Do you remember the Iraq War of 2003? Remember those heady days of euphoria when it ended two months later, with only 139 American lives lost? Journey back with me — TIME-LIFE style, if you will — to the scene of our triumph: “Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a ‘hero’ and boomed, ‘He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.’ PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was ‘part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.’ On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, ‘The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a — on a carrier landing. This must be very meaningful to the United States military.’

Well, today marks the five-year anniversary of our glorious victory, the day that “splendid little war” came to a close. Among those honoring the day, and the remarkable achievement of our Commander-in-Chief:

  • Sen. Barack Obama: “Five years after George Bush declared ‘mission accomplished’ and John McCain told the American people that ‘the end is very much in sight’ in Iraq, we have lost thousands of lives, spent half a trillion dollars, and we’re no safer. It’s time to turn the page on Washington’s false promises and failed judgments on foreign policy, so that we can finally ease the enormous burdens on our troops and their families, and end a war that should’ve never been authorized.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton: “The fifth anniversary of President Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech comes the same week as a chief architect of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq conceded ‘We were clueless on counterinsurgency.‘ That statement confirms what we have all known: the planning and strategy was flawed. Our troops deserved and deserve better.

  • DNC head Howard Dean: “The real mission George Bush is trying to accomplish is passing the torch of his failed Iraq policy to John McCain, who has made it clear he’s willing to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years against the wishes of the American people. This November the choice will be very clear: if you want to get out of Iraq responsibly, save lives and invest in America, vote for a Democrat.

  • Sen. John McCain: “To state the obvious, I thought it was wrong at the time [SIC]…all of those comments contributed over time to the frustration and sorrow of Americans because those statements and comments did not comport with the facts on the ground. In hearing after hearing in the Armed Services Committee and forums around America I complained loud and long that the strategy was failing and we couldn’t succeed … Obviously the presidents bare the responsibility. We all do. But do I blame him for that specific banner? I have no knowledge of that. I can’t blame him for that.

  • The White House: “‘President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,’ White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. ‘And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.’

  • The American people: “A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush his handling his job as president. ‘No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president’s disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark,’ said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

  • 3925 American lives: …

  • Dean sets a date. | The new new standard.

    “‘I think it would be nice to have this all done by July 1,’ Dean said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. ‘If we can do it sooner than that, that’s all the better.’” Howard Dean sets a date of July 1 at the latest for the primary election to end, meaning there’ll thankfully be no convention floor fight. I’m still thinking May 6 would be more preferable.

    Meanwhile, Bill Clinton drops the electoral vote standard (for now) and picks an even more unwieldy statistic by which to judge the candidates: “”Right now, among all the primary states, believe it or not, Hillary’s only 16 votes behind in pledged delegates,’ said the former president, ‘and she’s gonna wind up with the lead in the popular vote in the primary states. She’s gonna wind up with the lead in the delegates [from primary states].‘” (The 18 caucus states, you may remember, don’t matter.) Clinton also went on to do more stumping for John McCain, calling him a “moderate” who “has given about all you can give for this country without dyin’ for it.

    More cracks in the wall. | Mark the date.

    “‘If we have a candidate who has the most delegates and the most states,’ the Democratic party should come together around that candidate, Cantwell said. The pledged delegate count will be the most important factor, she said, because that is the basis of the nominating process.” Senator and Clinton superdelegate Maria Cantwell (D-WA) says she’ll vote for the pledged delegate leader in the end, meaning — barring a political meltdown of historic proportions — Sen. Obama. If this steadfast commitment to the actual rules represents a trend among her super support — and it likely does, despite the electoral vote Hail Mary — Clinton’s in real trouble. This also further supports Chris Bowers’ recent argument that the Democratic race will end on or soon after May 6, the day Sen. Obama most likely crosses the threshold of 1627 pledged delegates (a.k.a. 50% + 1 of the pledged total.)

    Update: Add unaffiliated super and Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen to those leaning Obama in the final analysis. “Bredesen also joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in warning that superdelegates should not overturn the outcome from primaries and caucuses.” And Harry Reid, at least, also seems to think there’s an exit strategy before the convention: “I had a conversation with…[Howard] Dean today. Things are being done.Update 2: Uncommitted and Clinton supers are not amused. Update 3: See also Clinton super Joe Andrew.

    Echoes of Dean…

    “He raises tens of millions of dollars over a few months. His supporters are passionate, almost fanatical. And his grass-roots movement threatens a more established rival. A description of Howard Dean in 2003 or Sen. Barack Obama today?” In today’s cover story, the Washington Post toys with many of our worst nightmares by comparing the current state of the Obama campaign to that of also-rans Dean and Bradley. “Like Dean and Bradley, Obama is strongest among elites, whom other Democrats derisively call ‘latte liberals’ — a group that voices strong opinions but is not big enough to win him the nomination. Polls show that Obama is ahead of Clinton among voters with college degrees, while Clinton has a huge lead among voters who make less than $35,000 and those who have graduated only from high school…But one major difference is that Obama has strong numbers among African Americans, about 40 percent of whom are backing him, putting him in a tie with Clinton.” Hmm. Hillary Clinton, heroine of the working-class? I’m not buying it. (More like name recognition, I’d wager.) Well, call me an inveterate latte-progressive elitist of the first order, but I just hope Obama finds a way to get his message out to the more, uh, likely-to-be-uninformed among us. However dignified their daily struggles, that crowd has burdened us with virtually unelectable candidates for two elections straight. (And it’s not like Gore or Kerry had any common-man cachet either.)

    Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dem.

    The Dems go Rocky Mountain high for 2008, choosing Denver as the site of the next Democratic convention. “‘It’s important in politics to put your money where your mouth is,’ Dean said. ‘If we are going to have a national party, we are going to get Westerners to vote Democratic again on a regular basis.‘”

    Ready, Steny, Go.

    “Look, someone told me she hasn’t liked him since 1963, and it has had zero effect on how well they have worked together. We don’t have to guess at this. We have seen it. They can and will work well together as we move forward.” In what’s being billed as an early but probably not-very-significant defeat (although perhaps it should be) for Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, her backing of her old friend John Murtha for Majority Leader seems to have backfired, as the Dem caucus instead chose moderate Steny Hoyer by almost 2-to-1. “‘He had been doing the tough work,’ said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). ‘It’s just mind-numbing — all those fundraisers, the travel, sleeping in hotel rooms. It needs to be rewarded.‘” Well, given Murtha’s record on the ethics issue, I’m all for Hoyer too. Now — please — let’s start concentrating our fire on the other side (And that goes for Carville (Emanuel) v. Dean as well — be cool, James.)

    The Leaky Cauldron.

    While Dubya and the GOP continue to smear and threaten the whistleblowers who exposed this administration’s recent egregious violations of civil liberties — the warrantless wiretaps or the secret gulags, for example — papers filed by Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disclose that Scooter Libby was actually told to leak classified information to the press by Dubya and Cheney (although not necessarily the identity of Valerie Plame.) “Libby said he understood that ‘he was to tell [Judith] Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was “vigorously trying to procure” uranium,’ Fitzgerald wrote.” Replied DNC chair Howard Dean today, “The fact that the president was willing to reveal classified information for political gain and put the interests of his political party ahead of America’s security shows that he can no longer be trusted to keep America safe.” At the very least, given his own penchant for selective leaking, it means Dubya is being a tremendous hypocrite every time he starts equating whistleblowers with terrorist sympathizers, and that his repeated promise to find the leakers in his administration is roughly equivalent to OJ’s hunt for the real killers. Update: ABC’s John Cochran and Salon‘s Farhad Manjoo break down the implications. Update 2: Fitzgerald makes a correction.

    Voice of Harold.

    Are the Clinton 2008 team taking their toys and going home? With financial backing from George Soros, Clinton lieutenant Harold Ickes announces he’s kicking off a private Dem-data mining firm, which will amass information on left-leaning voters and, theoretically, sell it to interest groups and campaigns that get the Clinton stamp of approval. “Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party. Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front.

    Well, I’d like to know more about the supposed deficiencies of the DNC’s voter outreach system, but this sounds like a troubling development all around. A house divided against itself cannot stand, particularly one as divided as the Democrats these days. (And, given how lackluster many Dems feel about a prospective Clinton candidacy anyway, a seeming attempt to put her own 2008 prospects before the good of the party is, to my mind, probably going to redound badly.)

    Snatching Defeat…

    “You know what I think? I don’t think we have a message.” With the administration faltering weekly, multiple investigations into GOP corruption coming to a head, and several congressional Republicans calling it quits (including longtime House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas), the Post surveys the varying Democratic strategies to win back Congress in 2006. Frankly, folks, it doesn’t look good, even given the great hand we’ve been dealt of late. As you might expect from Will Rogers’ famous dictum, no two people mentioned in this article — Reid, Pelosi, Dean, Emanuel, Schumer, Vilsack — seem to be on the same page.

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