Sullivan for Dean. Andrew Sullivan's been making some good arguments for why it would be better for all concerned if Howard Dean is the nominee for president. His argument basically boils down to the idea that the country is polarized anyways, so its a good idea to get it all on the table and hash it out in a reasonable, democratic manner. I respect Sullivan a lot (he's a raging philo-Semite, an endangered species these days among the rationally inclined, and hates Tony Kushner only slightly more than I do) but I'm not with him on this, there's basically two reasons why:
1. Sullivan postulates that Dean respresents the soul of the Democratic Party, which was co-opted by the Clintonites in the last two elections, and its better to let the Party deal openly with its "id" as he describes it. In other words, Sullivan accepts the Dean/Nadar argument that the Democrats are, at heart, an extreme Leftist party which only runs Centrist to win elections; he differs with them only in the fact that he approves of the Clintonite co-opting instead of disdaining it. I disagree. In my opinion, Dean is not the candidate of the "real" Democrats, but the candidate of an arrogant, extremist clique which gained control of the party by rewriting the nominating rules in their favor back in the 1970s. This clique basically consists of urban, upper-middle class Leftists who hail almost exclusively from the bad 50% of the boomer generation and, of course, their disfunctional, college-age children. This clique owns the nominating mechanism but not the soul of the party, people like my father, who voted Republican once in 1972 and has not done so since. To give you an idea of how badly the Deanites have alienated Democratic core voters, i.e. the non-Birkenstock Brigades, i.e. the lower middle class people who work for a living, my father has already told me he'll vote Bush if Dean is nominated. That's saying something.
2. The political movement which Dean represents, which, again, is an elite, minority movement, is not healthy for this country or its democracy. Firstly, Dean hasn't the slighest idea of what the causes are of Islamic terror, or how to deal with it and, worse, he doesn't seem overly interested in finding out. He often appears to be in denial that the problem exists at all or that it needs to be dealt with through military and not criminal measures. He is also frighteningly prone to the paroxysms of self-flagellation and incontinent character assassination we've all come to know and hate from our so-called intelligensia and feckless European allies. At this moment in history that is, simply, dangerous. Second, Dean's supporters, who are far more radical than he is, are a Chomskyite movement whose ideology, such as they have one, is a lot uglier than Dean's himself. They are prone to conspiracy theories, frighteningly anti-semitic, contemptuous of democracy as a system, and, most importantly, ferociously socialist on economic issues. These people really believe that Bush is Hitler and America is Nazi Germany. If Dean is nominated, we are facing the real risk of the Chomskyfication of the Democratic Party, a process which is already underway in the big city Democratic machines. Such a process is not good for the Democrats and not good for the country.
In my view, Sullivan is a bit too nonchalant about the dangers of a Dean candidacy and, particularly, the effect of his supporters on the Democratic Party itself. He's right about the necessity for an open debate of all sides in a polarized society such as ours, but that doesn't mean we should approve of the hijacking of a major political party by its extremist wing, particularly when we are at such a dangerous and delicate moment in our history.