The Corner

Howard Dean vs. John McCain

Dean:

While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.

Deputy RNC chairman Frank Donatelli:

It is beyond comprehension that Howard Dean would smear John McCain’s character by stating he is a “blatant opportunist.”  John McCain served our nation heroically and valiantly and it is absolutely unacceptable that the chairman of the Democratic National Committee would attack Senator McCain for discussing his record with the American people.  Dean’s comments are the latest in what has become a troubling pattern where the chairman of the national party has questioned Senator McCain’s character and integrity.  Howard Dean owes John McCain an immediate apology and both Senators Clinton and Obama should unequivocally denounce this disgraceful attack.

Having endorsed McCain for president a year ago, I obviously don’t think he is a “blatant opportunist.” But I don’t think it’s such an outrageous thing to say, either. Surely someone could be both a war hero and a shameless political panderer. Dean clearly didn’t mean to detract from McCain’s war-hero status. It may be ludicrous for Democrats to make a character attack on McCain, but I don’t see how it’s out of bounds. 

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.