Positives hard to come by in Dean’s speech

Aside from being an hour and 10 minutes late, I thought Howard Dean gave a pretty good speech. I didn’t agree with much he said, but it was a good delivery. While so many people are hailing Howard Dean as the savior of the Democratic Party, there is still a lot that they don’t know about him. Some of the things he said in his speech sound great on a 30-second TV commercial but can’t make it off the drawing board once it’s time to legislate.

He made sure everyone knew about the success that he had in Vermont while he was Governor. This is all well and good, but are the 600,000 people in the 43rd largest state a true representation of America? Can we really implement everything he says he did in Vermont on a National scale? If we can, it won’t be nearly as simply as he says.

He talked about balancing the budget. First let me remind you that he served as Governor during one of the most prosperous times in our nation’s history, but even so, anyone can balance a budget on the backs of taxpayers. In his time as Governor, he only cut taxes once and refused to cut them even when the state had a large surplus. “Citizens for a Sound Economy”, a Washington think tank, says that in order to achieve his balanced budget, Dean “raided other government trust funds, forced local government to raise property taxes, and reduced payments to doctors, hospitals and other caregivers to make up for Medicaid shortfalls, effectively increasing costs for those not eligible for the program.” That doesn’t sound like the fiscal conservative many liberals make him out to be.

He believes in big government programs like universal health care. In his speech, he made a joke about the amount of money it would take to insure all the uninsured in the country. He said that those of us who keep up with the news might know the number, $87 billion, the same amount President Bush requested for the reconstruction of Iraq. Is he serious? If that is all it will take to insure all the uninsured in this country, I promise you I will vote for him.

The problem is, for how long will that $87 billion cover? A year? Six months? The Iraq money is a one-time cost and most likely a very good investment. A grandiose idea like universal health care sounds great to all the liberals here in Madison, but not to common-sense individuals who know it is not that simple.

Dean made another tug at the heart of Madison with his pitch about raising the minimum wage. He supports a “living wage” of $7 per hour. Just minutes before these comments, he was bashing the Bush administration for job loss during this economic downturn. Does he expect jobs to be created by increasing the minimum wage? The people in that crowd were the ones who could very well lose their jobs because a business could no longer afford to pay them while the economy is still bad.

He also made another irrational comment: “You can’t trust Republicans with your money.” The funny thing about this is that Republicans trust you with your money. That is why they give it back to you. I guess Howard Dean knows what to do with your money better than you do.

“As commander-in-chief of the United States military, I will never send our sons and daughters … in harm’s way without telling the truth to the American people about why they’re going there.” The administration did not fabricate any intelligence that made us go to war. Even the interim report says there were WMD programs in Iraq. Saddam Hussein hid weapons for the past 20 years. Does Dean think they are hidden in some shed behind one of Saddam’s palaces? He also claims to know that the administration is behind the leaking of a CIA agent’s identity before an investigation even had a chance to get underway. Before the Dr. gets too wrapped up in assumptions, I think he should take a deep breath and think before speaking dogmatically.

A big contradiction I noticed in Dean’s speech was when he spoke about race. He claimed the Republicans used the race card to get support. Then, in the next breath, he said we needed to stop dividing the country by race like this administration is doing. Is that not playing the other side of the race card? Dean repeatedly asked to open up a debate on race. Then Rush Limbaugh made a comment about bias in the media, and Dean called for ESPN to fire him. Excuse me, Mr. Governor, but you can’t have a debate with only your side of the issue.

This is only the beginning of the real Howard Dean. As the campaign goes on, Dr. Dean will have to come up with better ideas than an egg in every basket and a chicken in every pot.

Matt Seaholm (mjseaholm@wisc.edu) is a junior majoring in political science.