Principles of Convenience

Think Howard Dean has flip-flopped on lots of major issues? Well, read here and here, and get a load of Richard Gephardt’s laundry list:

While Gephardt speaks in front of a sign that reads “Protect Social Security” and “Protect Medicare” over and over, like computer-desktop wallpaper, I wonder: Does he really want to play this game? Dredging up old quotes and votes about Gephardt’s onetime conservatism is what helped to derail his ’88 campaign. He voted against the establishment of the Department of Education. He voted for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. He voted to means-test Social Security and to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments from the program. He voted for Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. He opposed an increase in the minimum wage. Does a man with a legislative record this long and varied really want to ostentatiously declare, “There are life-and-death consequences to every position taken and every vote cast”? If that’s so, how many times was Dick Gephardt on the side of death?

Umm…wow. I’ve always loathed Gephardt, who always seems to come across as a cynical chameleon of a politician. But who knew his rightward tilt was so extreme? Did you know he once opposed school busing, too?

Chris Suellentrop is right: Gephardt is playing with fire by attacking Dean for changing his past positions. It seems to me that, if Dean were to rebuke Gephardt by stating the above excerpt in a debate, he could upend Gephardt’s candidacy and put his attacker on a permanent defensive. Not only would Gephardt be forced to stop citing Dean’s past positions, but he would also be unable to cite his own history of service without reminding voters of the divisive and shameful positions he himself has taken in the past.

With that in mind, there remains just one question: What the hell is Dean waiting for?

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