The Corner

Kaus On Dean

Mickey Kaus hits on the real political problem for the Democrats-something I took up on The Corner a couple of days ago. Kaus speculates that if Dean loses the nomination, he might run as a third party candidate. Dean’s followers are deeply committed, and would not likely settle for a pro-war candidate like, say, Gephart. This is the real dilemma for the Democrats. Their divisions over the War on Terror are so deep that whether Dean or an alternative is nominated, large numbers of Democrats are likely to stay home or defect. But Kaus has a solution. The Democrats can make Dean the vice-presidential candidate if he loses the nomination. That may work, but it probably won’t. I’m not convinced Dean’s followers would be mollified or excited by a Dean vice-presidential candidacy. There will be a lot of awkwardness when vice-presidential candidate Dean is forced to take a public position on the war. If Dean reiterates his old opposition, he’ll be violating vice-presidential loyalty. If he changes his views, his followers will stay home. Again, the underlying problem is that the Democrats are deeply divided on an issue that cannot be easily compromised. Dean’s followers will be satisfied with nothing less than vocal opposition to the whole Iraqi venture. Given that, either moderate Democratic voters will defect to the president if Dean is nominated, or Dean’s legions will stay home-or create a third party-if he loses the nomination. Only a general collapse of the Iraq occupation will unite the Democrats. So if things go as they are now, the Democrats will be fatally divided, whoever’s nominated. And a divided Democratic party could bring a stronger Republican majority in Congress. So the real question is not who the Democrats will nominate, but whether they are capable of compromising their differences over the war.

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