Bust the caps?
November 5, 2003 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Howard Dean is asking his supporters whether or not he should accept federal matching funds and the concomitant spending restrictions.
posted by monju_bosatsu (38 comments total)
How can anyone not like this man?
posted by eas98 at 8:23 AM on November 5, 2003

He sends out too much e-mail if you're on the list.

That's my only complaint.
posted by smackfu at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2003

posted by rocketman at 8:38 AM on November 5, 2003

I should explain:

I'm from Wisconsin, so I've seen a decision like this in action - Russ Feingold declining all special interest money for his campaign, and even going so far as to request PACs to *stop* running attack commercials against his opponent, the flesh-eating zombie and star of V: The Final Battle, Mark Neumann.

Russ won, barely.

But he made the decision on his own. Geez, Dean's got balls.
posted by rocketman at 8:42 AM on November 5, 2003

Perhaps the operative words here are "...concomitant spending restrictions." It would be easy to eschew matching funds if one were well funded already, so as to avoid having to document one's spending too rigorously. That would be, ah, a different sort of balls altogether :)

/devil's advocate
posted by UncleFes at 8:51 AM on November 5, 2003

This is pretty brilliant, actually. Dean *wants* to skip the matching funds (and will probably have to, if he has a prayer of taking on Bu$h), but he has previously stated that he would not opt out of the system in that way. His supporters are likely to vote the way he wants them to. This lets him get out of the spending restrictions while allowing him to "pass the buck" to his contributors.
posted by Slothrup at 8:55 AM on November 5, 2003

I like Dean, but....

the decision's already been made. The email I got was worded in such a way that it was a challenge to his supporters to raise a @#*&!-load of money rather than an appeal for help in making a difficult decision.

The vote is a means to overcome any criticism that he's abandoning his principles for expediency.

Dean, his campaign and all his supporters know that they've got the organization they need to bring in much more money than they would be allowed to spend with public financing. I would also hazard a guess that they're all on the same page with the relative importance of maintaining principled support for a public campaign finance system which is rather broken on the one hand, and beating Bush on the other.

I know where I stand.

(On preview: what Uncle Fes and Slothrup said)
posted by rocketpup at 8:59 AM on November 5, 2003

A coach that asks the fans for playmaking decisions usually ends up sitting with them.
posted by whoshotwho at 9:23 AM on November 5, 2003

whoshotwho, in what way is a politician like a coach? A politician is supposed to do the bidding of those he represents, no?

Cynics, the lot of you! ;)
posted by cbrody at 9:28 AM on November 5, 2003

A coach that asks the fans for playmaking decisions usually ends up sitting with them.

This is a fait accompli, not a trial balloon.
posted by machaus at 9:36 AM on November 5, 2003

It's hard to blame Dean for wanting to opt out of the public-financing system. He has proven himself to be an extraordinarily good fundraiser. That said, asking his supporters to "decide" his fate is a fraud. Dean decided to abandon the campaign finance system in August.

The gimmick is an ingenious idea. When the campaign announces that Dean has flip-flopped on the issue, they'll say, "It wasn't us, our supporters decided!" In reality, however, Dean is turning his back on his previous commitment.

In March, Dean promised to raise hell if other candidates decided to abandon spending limits and skip public financing.

"It will be a huge issue," Dean said. "I think most Democrats believe in campaign finance reform.... [I've] always been committed to this. Campaign finance reform is just something I believe in."

Now Dean intends to break his pledge, but he wants to use his base as cover. I don't begrudge the policy decision, but I do blame Dean for holding one position when he's a struggling newcomer and a different position when he's leading the pack. I also think it's a shame he doesn't have the courage to admit that he's changed his mind.
posted by evening at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2003

What is the point of having a campaign spending limit if those with enough donors (whether special interest groups or otherwise) can simply opt out of it? For campaign finance reform to be effective it must be legally binding on all candidates.

As long as well-endowed campaigns can spend whatever they like there will never be an equal playing field. Strictly enforced spending limits and the right to equal airtime for all is the only way forwards.
posted by cbrody at 9:47 AM on November 5, 2003

Dean may be a hypocrite, but no normal person would intentionally hobble their campaign for the sake of a principle. It's sort of like a Labour politican sending their child to private school. Indefensible, but understandable.
posted by cbrody at 9:54 AM on November 5, 2003

I liked Dean a lot more before he started all this flip-flopping on the issues, although I still think the problem isn't too much money in campaigns but the people that are naive enough to be swayed by all the campaign advertising.
posted by gyc at 10:06 AM on November 5, 2003

The New York Times has an in-depth story on this.
posted by Nelson at 10:10 AM on November 5, 2003

gyc - all this flip-flopping?

Have I missed something (other than the campaign finance reform stuff at present)?
posted by jmgorman at 10:13 AM on November 5, 2003

I'm sitting here agreeing with whoshotwho.

If he wants to forgo the matching funds, fine, but he needs to make the decision himself rather than running his campaign by committee. IOW: grab some sack, Howard.
posted by bshort at 10:21 AM on November 5, 2003

Interesting NYT article - thanks for posting it.

(Did anyone else find it distracting that the NYT kept calling him Dr. Dean ... shouldn't it be "Gov. Dean"?? Or did he get to pick?)
posted by anastasiav at 10:28 AM on November 5, 2003

He sends out too much e-mail if you're on the list.

I'd rather receive too much attention from my politicians than too little.

Also, what cbrody said.
posted by rushmc at 10:33 AM on November 5, 2003

jmgorman, with all due respect, I'm afraid you have missed something.

Dean's habit of flip-flopping has been one of my biggest problems with his campaign. He was against the death penalty, now he's for it. He supported Bush's policy on North Korea, now he's against it. He wanted to raise the Social Security retirement age, now he doesn't. He wanted to end the ridiculous trade embargo against Cuba, now he doesn't. He wanted to eliminate all the Bush tax cuts, then he wanted to do away only with those on the very wealthy, and now he's back to getting rid of all of them again.

Here's a Top 10 list of Dean's biggest flip-flops (pseudo-self link: my husband wrote it).

I used to think Dean was the real deal. After a few months of watching his campaign closely, I've changed my mind.
posted by evening at 10:36 AM on November 5, 2003


Why is it "indefensable" for a Labour MP to send her kid to private school? Did she vote for, or lobby for a ban on private schooling? If not, I don't see any hypocracy. (I guess the article sort of said she critized blair?)


As far as dean goes, this does seem a little shady. He knows his supporters want him to win. And will vote the way he wants. But I guess he has to weasle out of this as best as he can.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 AM on November 5, 2003

evening has it pretty much covered. Dean has also previously said that he supported class-based affirmative action, which I support, but has now backed off on that and is supporting race-based affirmative action. I think that if he had stuck to his original positions on many of the points he would have been an even more attractive candidate for Republicans and other conservatives who are tired of this administration.
posted by gyc at 10:45 AM on November 5, 2003

I wasn't sure where I stood on the decision as to whether Dean should or shouldn't accept public funds, but I do trust Dr. Dean. And before I visited the web site, I thought, "I would feel better about this if I knew Dean would work for real campaign finance reform when he becomes president." What I found was Dean's Pledge to Reduce the Role of Special Interest Money in Presidential Elections

I personally hate how money rules politics, but pretending it doesn't while your opponent rakes in $200 million plus at $2,000 per corporate fat cat is naive. And in order to make change you have to be in a position to legislate. I hope this is the last presidential campaign where this is an issue. I know that sounds naive, but I am not ready to give up.
posted by terrapin at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2003

Anastasia--he gets to pick. I noticed in a recent article they mostly referred to him as Dr but in one case used Mr.
posted by adamrice at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2003

Is it just me, or does the use of "Dr." instead of "Gov." seem like a blatantly political maneuver? The "Dr." makes him seem smarter than the other candidates and less of a career politician, and so might appeal to those dissatisfied with the status quo. It just seems disingenuous to me.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:55 AM on November 5, 2003

But he's not currently a governor, and I presume he is still a doctor, if not a practicing one. Does that not enter into this at all?

If it doesn't, I can flip-flop.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:00 AM on November 5, 2003

posted by nyxxxx at 11:22 AM on November 5, 2003

evening - thanks. I didn't realise that there had been the death penalty flop. The N. Korea flop seems partially due to Bush's change in policy.
posted by jmgorman at 11:32 AM on November 5, 2003

Does anyone think that Dr. Gov's strategy is incredibly risky? If he loses (ie, raises less money than Bu$h) but gets all tarnished in the raising of the money, we're back three paces.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:07 PM on November 5, 2003

He sends out too much e-mail if you're on the list.

I had a hell of a time unsubscribing at the beginning of September. Mail to all the unsub addresses I could find bounced. And I'm still getting the occasional message.
posted by hilker at 12:10 PM on November 5, 2003

No matter how many flip flops the man is going to perform, when placed next to Bush, it's a pretty straightforward choice as far as I'm concerned....
posted by eener at 12:38 PM on November 5, 2003

eener - yes, but there are plenty of other democratic candidates that don't have all the flip-flops that Dean has.

believe it or not, there is more than one choice.
posted by evening at 1:37 PM on November 5, 2003

evening, your husband's "Top Ten List" is intellectually dishonest. The first item on it is that Dean has "flip-flopped" on North Korea. He quotes Dean to CBS in January:

"DEAN: Well, I think the -- I concur with most the president's policy on North Korea. We have substantial differences on Iraq. But I like the idea and I believe in the idea of multilaterals and the president's pursuing a policy in cooperation with the Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans and the Japanese, which we ought to see bear fruition. "

This is supposed to be a flip-flop since "just a month later" Dean said: "The second is to wake up and respond creatively to the fact that North Korea has become the biggest threat to peace in East Asia in half a century. On the Korean Peninsula, U.S. policy has been incoherent, inconsistent and dangerously disengaged. Instead of building on a process of dialogue with North Korea, fully supported by South Korea and other East Asian allies, the Administration essentially walked away from the region for almost two years."

Why, yes, there does appear to be a flip-flop. On CBS, Dean said he supported the President's policies, and here he is saying that our policy is inconsistent and disengaged since we're not building a dialogue with North Korea. Damn that nefarious Doctor and his lack of credibility. Oh, except, wait. It seems that the "Top Ten List of Dean flip-flops" didn't quote Dean in context. There was a second part to what Dean said on CBS. A whole second paragraph, missing from this attack. Imagine that.

"The one criticism I have of the president's policy is that we have to directly negotiate with the North Koreans. This idea that the South Koreans are putting forward may be a good idea and it may not. We're not going to know that until we have direct conversations with the North Koreans about whether such a deal would make any sense at all."

So anotherwords, Dean is supposed to have flip-flopped because he went from saying "multilateral talks are good and I support the President for trying them, but they won't work if we won't talk directly to the North Koreans" to saying "The President has failed in North Korea policy because he hasn't built a dialogue with the North Koreans."

What a cheap attack.
posted by jbrjake at 2:48 PM on November 5, 2003

It's worrisome but predictable that people would base their voting decisions on TV-talk charges 'flip-flopping'. Ideologues like Bush who haven't got a mind to change (or a flip to flop, if you like) are preferable to those who modify their positions, then? What is it - a sign of manly strength or something to never, ever modify your stated views on an issue?

It's infantile.

And I know it's not about Real Views most of the time, just about what positions will pump up the fucking poll numbers. Which just means your political process is bankrupt on two levels (and counting)...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:01 PM on November 5, 2003

delmoi: Why is it "indefensable" for a Labour MP to send her kid to private school?

Not indefensible generally, but indefensible for this particular left-wing politician, as it goes against her most strongly-held (alleged) values.

In her own words.
posted by cbrody at 2:56 AM on November 6, 2003

if anyone is still reading this...

jbrjake - I guess I just disagree. He says he mostly agrees with the President's policy, except that we need to talk more with N Korea directly. But then he says our "policy has been incoherent, inconsistent and dangerously disengaged."

How can you say that the policy is mostly good but yet "incoherent, inconsistent and dangerously disengaged"???

To me those are two completely different sentiments and therefore a flip-flop. I just don't see what you interpreted in your paraphrase as what he was saying.
posted by evening at 6:57 AM on November 6, 2003

evening: It sounds like Dean was saying that he supported the idea of multilateral talks, which, at the time, Bush said he was in support of and then pretty much killed. He didn't say he liked all of Bush's NK policies all the time.

I think you need to read people's remarks in context rather than just picking and choosing specific words and phrases and making up your own connotations.
posted by bshort at 8:01 AM on November 6, 2003

bshort, I realize that this thread is over 24-hours old, and I don't mean to belabor this point, but I wanted to elaborate on this just once more. You've suggested that I've engaged in some selective quotations in order to "make up [my] own connotations." I honestly don't think that's the case here.

You mentioned the importance of "read[ing] people's remarks in context." I couldn't agree more.

When commenting on Bush's North Korea policy, Dean said in January that he largely agreed with the president's position. In fact, Dean contrasted his general support for the N.K. policy with his opposition to Bush's Iraq policy.

The complete context of the remarks shows that Dean believed Bush should engage in bilateral discussions with North Korea directly, but Dean nevertheless said he "concur[s] with most of the president's policy on North Korea," and believed Bush's policy in this area would "bear fruition."

You're right, Dean never said he agreed with "all" of Bush's N.K. policy, but no has made that claim. A fair and honest reading of the transcript shows, however, that Dean's remarks were a largely positive critique of the administration's approach.

That said, just four weeks later, Dean went from "concur[ing] with most of the president's policy on North Korea," to saying that the policy is "incoherent, inconsistent and dangerously disengaged."

Whether one loves Dean or hates him, these are two very different positions on the same issue in just one month's time.

Just as an aside, this is but one of many Dean flip-flops on a variety of domestic and foreign policies. Even if one disagrees on the shifting nature of Dean's North Korea policy, are Dean's supporters willing to concede that he has flip-flopped on a host of other issues? Including breaking his pledge to stay within the campaign-finance system -- the point that got this thread started in the first place?
posted by evening at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2003

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