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Howard Dean Pulling a Perot

The Union Leader in Manchester, New Hampshire slams Howard Dean for smearing the president on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show last week. Dean alleged that George W. Bush was tipped off by the Saudis about the 9/11 attacks in advance.

When Ross Perot started making wacky claims like this in ’92, the media portrayed him as a fruitcake teetering on the ragged edge of insanity. Why is Howard Dean getting a pass?


Robert Novak has picked up the story:

It was bad enough when Howard Dean, interviewed on National Public Radio Dec. 1, spread a conspiracy theory that George W. Bush ignored Saudi Arabian warnings of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was worse Dec. 7 on “Fox News Sunday,” when the Democratic presidential front-runner neither apologized nor repudiated himself for passing along this urban legend.


Unlike George McGovern in 1972, Dean’s core problem is not ideological. It is loose lips: fabricating the story of a patient impregnated by her father, seeking support from pickup truck drivers with Confederate flags, and seemingly exulting in his draft deferment for a bad back. Nothing so worries old-style Democratic politicians, however, as proclaiming the apocryphal warning from Saudi Arabia.

Short of a Hillary intervention, next November’s election is shaping up to be a Republican rout.

I don’t think Hillary would beat W, either, but she’d have a better shot than anyone running for the Democratic nomination right now. Dean and Sharpton are the only ones with charisma, and Sharpton is unelectable. Kerry and Clark are self-destructing, seemingly unable to remember what they supported when; Lieberman, Gephardt, and Edwards can’t get any traction; and Kucinich and Braun are fringe candidates with about as much of a shot at becoming president as Ralph Nader.

Dean is gaining momentum, but he’s going to be a tough sell to mainstream America–us voters in the flyover states–if he keeps running his mouth without first engaging his brain.

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