This is a huge thing Gore is doing and I think it’s too soon to tell whether it’s hugely smart or hugely dumb. Clearly, it was hugely nasty for at least one guy: Joe Lieberman.
More important, it underscores how unserious Al Gore has become on the war on terrorism. Will Gore say that he should have picked Dean to be his runningmate in 2000? Al Gore claimed that Joe Lieberman would be the best possible stand-in for Al Gore should the need arise. He said that Lieberman’s qualifications were perfect to be president. Now, that was before the War on Terrorism. In the time since then, Joe Lieberman has been at the forefront of the War on Terrorism in the Senate. He was pretty much the original drafter of the Department of Homeland Security. Meanwhile, Howard Dean has amassed absolutely no additional national security or foreign policy experience on top of the near zero experience he had prior to 9/11. Joe Lieberman’s resume has only gotten better since he ran as Al Gore’s handpicked second. Howard Dean’s resume has remained entirely inadequate to the task at hand (And, let’s not forget that Howard Dean’s policy positions are anything but serious either). Indeed, Gore could have picked Dean in 2000 to be his runningmate — the man was no less qualified then than he is now. The only thing that has changed is that Gore has moved even further to the angry left and Dean is in a position to reward Gore (and Gore may be counting on the even angrier Dean voters in 2008, after Bush finishees his second term). And, oh yeah, we are in a long, dangerous bloody struggle with an enemy dedicated to destroying us. And, we are in the midst of one of the most ambitious and generous foreign policy efforts in American history (recall that Al Gore was a passionate defender of nation-building). But all that seems to be beside the point.
In other words, Al Gore not only thinks Howard Dean is more qualified to be president of the United States than Joe Lieberman was or is, he thinks that is especially the case now after 9/11. If you really let that sink in for a second, you can see what an amazingly mercenary and damn close to dishonorable position that is. Moreover, it shows how a vast swath of the Democratic Party really, fundamentally, doesn’t care that there’s a war on — except, that is, to the extent it wants to bug out from it.