Waht kind of President would Howard Dean make?

This question could be in IHMO or in GQ, but I have chosen to put it here because of the somewhat greater focus in this forum on serious political discussions. Mods move if you must.

I was reading this MSNBC article on Howard Dean,

The persistence of Howard Dean -Certitude, combativeness have brought Democratic front-runner success so far

and the thought occured to me “What would happen if this guy did get elected President?”. I know little to nothing about Dean as a person and I am curious what other Dopers would think of him as a potential President.

Say between now and the next election, the Bush administration does something really, really stupid that pisses of a lot of voters, and Howard Dean continues to defy expectations and keeps gaining momentum. If by some chance Dean wins the Presidency, what kind of President do you think he will be?

He does share with Bush, I think, a sense of righteousness, a highly moral attitude with the impatience of one who simply can’t understand why people can see the obvious solutions he’s offering to Problem X, and some of that black-and-white morality. I think if he’s not more tactful he could alienate almost as many allies as Bush has, no matter how much lip service he plays to the UN and all; I get the sense that he won’t suffer fools abroad either.

However, he’s ten times smarter and comes from a similiar privileged background but a far less macho and more refined version of it. I don’t particularly ‘like’ him but then again when I step in the booth I’m not voting from Prom King. Trouble is, it’s so hard to tell what problems he’ll face in 2005, and what the world will look like then. I dunno, he’s not my choice of the Dems we have now, but if it’s him vs. Bush I’ll pull the lever and take a chance on him.

Second line: why people CAN’T see the obvious solutions…


people from Vermont, what kind of governor was he?
(not that he wouldn’t change completely if he became president. But it would be indicative.)

I didn’t think he was that bad. Vermont hasn’t blown up, Burlington was considered one of the best places to live in the country a few years ago on an A&E tv show. Though his vehement anti-war stance shocks me even a little…I guess I’m not use to seeing him so…vocal.


Dean and Wesley Clark share one characteristic, one you’ll read about in every column or artcile dealing with them: both men “suffer fools badly.”

In itself, that’s not a sin or even a negative. What IS a negative is that Dean seems to consider MOST people fools.

He’s VERY good at energizing people who share his convictions, and that’s essential for winning the Democratic nomination. But during the campaign and (should he win) in the White House, I suspect his arrogance will quickly alienate most Americans who don’t share his views.

Unfortunately, Dean is a bit of a cipher. It’s very hard to judge someone based on their stated positions in a primary, because in the primaries the candidate is playing to one side of the house. Once he wins the nomination, he has to attract voters from all sides, and the positions will change.

My prediction is that no matter who wins the White House, they will continue to prosecute the war on terror pretty much the way Bush is doing. The presidency has a way of forcing people to face up to certain realities. Had Al Gore been president, I believe he would have done just about the same things Bush did.

It’s easy to say now that you need the U.N. and should have gotten them, but no one seems to want to answer the question, “But what if you don’t have a choice?” What if the U.N. winds up simply opposing what all your experts and generals say is the right course of action for your country? Do you give France and Russia a veto over your security?

The option was never, “Go into Iraq with the U.N., or go alone”, like Dean and Clark are saying. The option was, “Go into Iraq with whoever you can get, but without the U.N., or don’t go at all.” Dean acts like the U.N. just needed to be finessed, and all the ducks would have fallen into place and the free world would have marched lock-step against terrorism. That was never a realistic proposition. In the real world, other countries have interests that are not the same as yours.

If Clark or Dean is elected, they’ll make lots of noise about being ‘new’ presidents, with a fresh vision for the war on terror. They’ll make all kinds of attempts to placate other countries, to become more internationalist, etc. But once they try to do something actually hard, and get hard opposition, they’ll be forced to make the same kinds of choices Bush had to face. And they’ll probably make the same decisions.

Dean might actually turn out to be pretty good. Sometimes I think the only way you can get fiscal responsibility in Washington is to elect a Democratic president, with a Republican Congress. As Bush is showing, when the Republicans control the whole shooting match, they don’t seem to have any self control. Probably the same for the Democrats.

Dean was interviewed on, I think, Sixty Minutes last week, and my impression was positive. It’s really too early to say any more than that. I remember when Jimmy Carter looked pretty good (before he was elected). I still like Carter the man, but I’m just as glad that he’s not still president. I’d like to see a lot more of Dean before I decide whether to support him. My history isn’t too promising with respect to first impressions.


I wish some here would face reality. Anyone care to take a guess how many times the equation of the invasion of Iraq with the fight against terrorism has been disputed here in this forum? Many of us, particularly non-Republicans, don’t think they are the same thing. Many of us, perhaps including Al Gore, think that not going at all would have been better for our security. The next Democratic president and every president after that will continue to fight against terror. That doesn’t mean they will produce ad hoc excuses to go around conquering other countries.

“What if the U.N. winds up simply opposing what all your experts and generals say is the right course of action for your country?”
If you are talking about the Iraq war it is quite well known that the experts were at best reluctant supporters. Many professional soldiers thought it was unnecessary. Many professional spooks thought the administration was exaggerating the threat from Saddam. And of course the professional diplomats at State were hardly screaming for war. The major push for the war came not from the experts but from the neo-con ideologues at the Pentagon.

I would expect a President Dean to be not very different from Clinton. Pragmatic on economic issues but not opposed to smallish initiatives to solve social problems. Fiscally prudent when it comes to balancing budgets or at least moving in that direction and willing to raise taxes for that purpose. Internationalist but willing to use force if necessary. The big difference could be on free-trade where Clinton took some major risks. Dean has been making protectionist noises but my guess is that he won't be a major protectionist in office.

Why not led Dean tell his own story? His campaign website, http://www.deanforamerica.com/#, states his polices on the issues. Draw your own conclusions.

1. Agriculture:

2. Civil Rights & Justice:

3. Economy:

4. Education:

5. Environment:

6. Health:

7. Labor:

8. Security/Foreign Policy:

Except he would’ve done it 18 months earlier when Clinton had an anti-terrorism plan worked out. Oh, and we probably wouldn’t be in Iraq.

Holy socialism, Batman.

Let’s see… Dean will raise taxes, strengthen unions and make it easy for them to form, have nationwide closed shop regulations that force employers to deal in ‘good faith’ with unions or face financial penalty, bring in universal health care for pretty much everyone under 25 and many others, provide federal funds to farmers, provide matching grants for savings and investment for small farmers, create new national service programs to allow every young person t o go to college on the government’s nickel.

Oh, and he’ll balance the budget, too.

This does not compute.

Oh, and he’s going to heavily regulate business. A whole new host of farm regulations, environmental regulations, worker regulations, export regulations, and ‘fair trade’ instead of ‘free trade’.

Until I read this, I thought Dean was sort of okay. Fiscal conservative, slightly loopy on the war on terror, but would probably see the light if he became president.

But if he seriously managed to implement even half of what he says he would do, it would be an economic disaster.

Posted by Sam Stone:

It might or might not compute, Sam, but it isn’t socialism. Not even Kucinich is really a socialist. Not even by European social-democratic standards. Try to keep these things in their proper perspective.

He may not be at the station, but he’s definitely driving the train in that direction… (-:

Found something more in the NY Observer of a few weeks ago; as a media-oriented newspaper they’re following Dean and his new-wave campaign with great interest. It’s basically about ,Darrell Hammond the comedian, who’s chomping at the bit to impersonate Dean this season on SNL, and like most good comics is very perceptive about personalities.

The author of the piece goes on to say:

Hmmmm. I guess it depends on what America’s looking for when it finally slogs to the polls. But pretty consistently they don’t seem to like 'know it all’s". Which is a shame, since I usually admire such people, but my candidates usually don’t win.

Whether my candidate will be Dean or not will be interesting to see. And what kind of President he’ll make–well, maybe another Carter? A very testy, less grinny Carter?

He will be effective only if he can gain the cooperation of Congress, and in recent history, presidents elected as “outsiders” have had very little success in this area, even within their own party.

And now, we have even the Democrats inside the beltway wishing for “anyone but Dean.” I think if he gets elected, he’ll be as ineffective in domestic issues as Carter was.

In other words, he’s not one of the “good ole boys,” and the “good ole boys” run Washington. Until we kick all the bums out, we aren’t gonna see things improve much.

And I’m trying not to even think about the kind of red-faced foot stamping and partisan attacks he’ll face from the rancorous right… You think Clinton had it bad? Wait until Dean… Sam Stone has already started with the “socialist” attacks.

Now, now, I wouldn’t call what Sam Stone wrote ‘red-faced foot stamping’ but then again I usually like Sam’s posts :slight_smile: and think he raises some good points. I agree that the attacks will be fierce, though, maybe more fierce than if we get a Kerry or Lieberman as the nominee, but I would guess the WH strategy will be of the “float serenely above the fray” type unless the polls show real danger.

But you do have a point about Good Ole Boys (and don’t forget some of the biggest–Teddy K, Charlie Rangel, Gephardt as well–are liberals, and Diane Feinstein isn’t a boy!). His experience governing a small state and his long experience in the VT legislature may not help–even Clinton, who can charm the teeth off a shark, had trouble as a novice when he walked onto Capitol Hill with his eager beaver pizza-eatin’ late-night brainstormin’ aides.

Another thing to ask about Dean is if he’ll have coat-tails (Non-USDopers go huh?) which means whether or not he’ll be so popular that people will make sure they elect Dems to Congress as well as the Presidency. If much of the same leadership we have now is in place in 2005, I really wonder at how much Dean will actually get done, no matter what his website promises.

I will, however, look forward to a Bush/Dean debate, although it seems that it’ll be the sort of thing that will require lots of beer and the removal of heavy throwable objects in the room to get through.

I’ve heard this criticism before regarding Dean, but haven’t seen any examples to support it. Googling “Dean” and “suffers fools badly” and the like, sadly, was no help. What are some examples of such behavior?