Petulance is seldom considered a prime presidential attribute. George W. Bush's smirk notwithstanding, Americans prefer adults as Presidents. That makes the poisonous attacks unleashed on Howard Dean by other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination doubly noxious. These desperate Democrats are writing the script for Bush's future TV ads in unfounded assaults on Dean while providing ample evidence to Democratic voters that they are unfit to lead.
The current round of vitriol was sparked by Dean's statement that the capture of Saddam Hussein makes America no safer. The only thing notable about that statement is its common sense. A top US commander in Iraq had just declared that Saddam's capture would make no difference one way or another. All sensate observers agree that the war on Iraq has been a distraction from combating terrorism--draining intelligence, resources and political attention. To reinforce the point, the Department of Homeland Security, concerned about chatter implying a new terror assault, has just placed America on high alert for the holidays. Joe Lieberman, John Kerry and Dick Gephardt are scoring Dean for stating the obvious.
Lieberman has issued the most personal assaults. Like the Democratic Leadership Council that he once chaired, Lieberman seems energized only when he is assailing other Democrats. No doubt Lieberman, leading in the polls at the beginning of the campaign, is bitter at his fall. It isn't surprising that Democrats, including Al Gore, have abandoned Lieberman, the champion of pre-emptive war, trade deficits, stock options and Medicare privatization. Dean has soared precisely by daring to challenge Bush (and thus Lieberman) on the central choices facing America. …