Howard Dean Tells Why He Shouldn't Be President

NOTE: Chris Field will return next week. His daily First Look will too.

Howard Dean, who is leading the nine Ringwraiths running for the Democratic nomination, appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” Monday night. On the show, Dean revealed, again, to Americans why it is he should not be elected President.

Unfortunately, most Americans never heard what Dean had to say. So here are some snippets from his appearance.


Civil Unions = Marriage

DEAN: It’s called the civil union’s bill. And it’s a bill that allows gay couples to have the same rights as everybody else.

MATTHEWS: . . . I want to find out what the difference is between a civil marriage — everybody wants a civil marriage. What’s the difference between a civil union as described by Vermont law that you signed and a civil marriage?

What’s the difference?

DEAN: The bill actually says marriage is between a man and a woman, but — or and same-sex couples may enter into a civil union and, therefore, have all the same legal rights as people who are married, including hospitalization, insurance rights, inheritance rights. There is no inequality of rights in the state of Vermont. . . .

MATTHEWS: For all practical purposes, whether it’s Vermont or New Mexico, is there any difference between civil union and civil marriage?

DEAN: Well, in terms of legal rights, no, there is not.


How many times must Democrats be told? We were not alone.

DEAN: Kerry, Gephardt, Lieberman, Edwards and Wes Clark at first, all were in favor of this resolution that was a preemptive unilateral attack on Iraq. I was not.


Clintonesque on the Draft

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your own almost experience with the military back in 1970. Describe, if you can, how you got your deferment and how it worked. Tell me what happened that day.

DEAN: I think I was a junior when the lottery came out.

My number was 143, which was a pretty low number. I figured I was going to get drafted. I knew I had a back problem. I had it for four years because I had back pain during my track career in high school. So I went down to have a draft physical in 1970. I think it was February. I went through the draft physical . . . they basically said we will not take you except in times of national emergency. So I failed my draft physical.

MATTHEWS: You make it sound rather passive.

Now, you have read the New York Times. You know how they described it: “In the winter of 1970, a 21-year-old student from Yale walked into his armed services physical in New York carrying X-rays and a letter from his orthopedist, eager to know whether a back condition might keep him out of the military draft.”

Is that accurate? Did you carry materials into argue your case against being…

DEAN: Yes. No, I brought my — I didn’t argue any case.

MATTHEWS: Then why did you bring materials to a draft physical?

DEAN: Because I knew I had a back problem and I knew they would want to know about it. And they did know about it. And…

MATTHEWS: Did you do it with the idea this would help you get out of the draft or just, you thought it would be informative? [???]

DEAN: . . . I was not looking forward to going to Vietnam. There’s no question about that.

MATTHEWS: Would an average poor kid growing up in a different part of New York City, say, from Harlem, say, who didn’t have an orthopedist, didn’t have X-rays, didn’t have a letter from his doctor, he would have been drafted, wouldn’t he?

DEAN: Not necessarily.

MATTHEWS: A Howard Dean that didn’t have those materials, walk in, would have been drafted, right?

DEAN: That’s the case that the New York Times tried to make. But, unfortunately, it’s not accurate.

If you develop back pain, the Army is going to want to know about it. And they’re going to want to find out why you have back pain. I had a condition that the Army decided did not qualify me for service. [???]

MATTHEWS: When you went in to the draft board that day, were you hoping to get deferred?

DEAN: I was not looking forward to going to Vietnam.

MATTHEWS: Were you hoping to be deferred?

DEAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.


What is “success” in the War on Terror? Do the zero terrorist attacks since 9/11 mean anything?

DEAN: I think this president is conducting the war on terror in exactly the wrong way. [???]

So what we’re going to do is focus on terrorism and not on nation states, unless the nation states merge with the terrorist organization, as they did in Afghanistan. And I supported the action we took in Afghanistan to fight terror.

But, by and large, this president, I don’t believe, has any idea how to fight terror. And I don’t think he is being particularly successful at it either.


Interesting coming from a Democratic candidate

DEAN: . . . treat people with respect and they will treat you with respect.


Bring HIM back?!?

DEAN: . . . The first thing I’m going to do if I get to be president of the United States is call Bill Clinton and ask him to go to the Middle East and represent me so we can have the presence of an American president trying to bring peace to that region. [???]

MATTHEWS: Do you think he would make a good secretary of state?

DEAN: I’m sure he would. . . .


Moral leadership from today’s Democrats?

DEAN: . . . The president has already given up our moral leadership in the world. We cannot afford four more years of this president, because moral leadership matters.


Break up companies with more regulation

MATTHEWS: . . . There are so many things that have been deregulated. Is that wrong trend and would you reverse it?

DEAN: I would reverse in some areas.

First of all, 11 companies in this country control 90 percent of what ordinary people are able to read and watch on their television. That’s wrong. We need to have a wide variety of opinions in every community. We don’t have that because of Michael Powell and what George Bush has tried to do to the FCC.

MATTHEWS: Would you break up Fox? I’m serious. . . . Would you break it up? Rupert Murdoch has The Weekly Standard. It has got a lot of other interests. It has got the New York Post. Would you break it up?

DEAN: On ideological grounds, absolutely yes, but…

MATTHEWS: No, seriously. As a public policy, would you bring industrial policy to bear and break up these conglomerations of power?

DEAN: I don’t want to answer whether I would break up Fox or not, because, obviously. . .

MATTHEWS: Well, how about large media enterprises?

DEAN: The answer to that is yes. [???]

MATTHEWS: Are you going to break up the giant media enterprises in this country?

DEAN: Yes, we’re going to break up giant media enterprises.


“I hate right-to-work laws.”

MATTHEWS: Do you protect the right of the person to go work somewhere and not have to join a union? Do you accept the right of right-to-work states to say you don’t have to join a union.

Dick Gephardt sat here and came out and said he was going to say no more right to work and we get rid of 14B, get rid of Taft-Hartley, repeal that, and force people to have to join unions, where they’re organized. . . . Do you think a person has a right to work somewhere if they don’t want to join a union?

DEAN: No . . . I don’t . . . If I got a bill on my desk that repealed 14B, I’d sign it in an instant . . . I hate right-to-work laws.


Make a deal with North Korea? Like Clinton’s successful deal?

DEAN: [W]e also need to engage in a deal that I think the North Koreans want to make, which is, let them enter the community of nations. In turn — and, in turn, they will disarm, verifiably, and rid themselves of nuclear weapons. They don’t need nuclear weapons. We can make them — make that problem go away if we’ll do certain things, such as, perhaps, sign a nonaggression treaty, if it allows us to fully protect our allies such as South Korea and Japan, and of course, ours. There is a solution to North Korea. We need a president who believes in negotiation and not simply posturing.


Soviet Union?

DEAN: [T]he key, I believe, to Iran is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran, I believe, most likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union and it may require us to buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran to prevent Iran from them developing nuclear weapons.


Didn’t he beat the Soviet Union?

MATTHEWS: [W]hat did you think of the following presidents and you can do this in a few words if you don’t mind — Ronald Reagan.

DEAN: Great charisma. Lousy policy.


Busy being in full hate-mode

MATTHEWS: Is there anything good about [George W. Bush] you could say for the history books that you believe in?

DEAN: I am sure there is, but I’m not in that mode to think that way just at this particular time.