I still find it hard to believe that Dr. Dean is the Dems' frontrunner. It's one of the strongest pieces of evidence - along with recent election results and declining voter identification - that the Democrats are making a bid for long-term minor league status. The frequent comparison to George McGovern is deeply unfair to McGovern, who, for all of his faults, was a man of substance and long service to his country when he ran for President in '72. He also was a helluva lot more congenial than the doctor.
Last week, Dean had one of his typical not-ready-for-the-Big-Show moments on CNN while being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer. Professor Dauber was also watching, and has already pointed out that Dean got the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Ansar al Islam confused with a very different group, the Mujahadeen al Khalq (anti-Iranian Marxist-Islamists who are so weird that even the French cracked down on them). What was typical about the rookie error was not only that it reflected Dean's lack of familiarity with the subject matter, but that it came in the context of a stubborn refusal to back down on a prior claim that Al Qaeda had "no" presence in Iraq prior to the war. Blitzer then brought forth part of the growing body of evidence that Saddam's links to Al Qaeda were in fact quite extensive prior to the war, focusing on long-standing Administration claims. As usual, Dean refused to give an inch, or even a millimeter: He seems to believe that conceding any evidence of links between Saddam and Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-associated groups would be too much for his larger argument to stand (he may be right).
I felt while watching that Blitzer knew Dean was blowing it, but decided not to go in for the kill. Maybe he didn't want to appear argumentative. Maybe he thought he had already been argumentative enough in challenging Dean on the prior assertion. Still, whatever the explanation, it was disappointing, but it's business as usual at the new, touchy-feely CNN. I never thought I'd miss Bernie Shaw.
As for Dean, it's not just that he's so often wrong, but that he's so insistently, abrasively, condescendingly self-assured about it. To switch metaphors away from baseball, as a character type he seems to be the kind of doctor that the movies and TV have always hated - the egotistical surgeon unwilling to consider an alternative to a scheduled operation, the set-in-his-ways GP insisting on a fatal misdiagnosis. You'd think that at least the Hollywood Left would notice that their standard-bearer gazes down at those who disagree with him in the manner of "Rocket" Romano or Nurse Ratchet, but they just don't seem to recognize the bad guy when he's one of their own.