Howard Dean on Meet the Press
Howard Dean is on Meet the Press
today (9 March). If you miss it, look for the rebroadcast on CNBC. In Northampton, that's at 10pm, but check local listings.
Update: Official transcript from MSNBC
Howard Dean on Iraq:
Going to war preemptively and preventively has a very high moral threshold. Other countries will look to us as an example of what is permissible. We really have set the bar in terms of permissible conduct in this world, in terms of international intervention, for a while. If we go to war preventively against Iraq, claiming--they make a case that most of the world does not believe. Most of the world does not believe that we have made the case that Iraq is an imminent danger to the United States, and I don't believe it either. If we go to war under those circumstances, what is to prevent China some years down the road from saying--look what the United States did in Iraq, we're justified going in and taking over Taiwan--or some other country doing the same thing. It matters what we do here for the long term implications. I have no doubt that if we go to war, next week or the week after, that we're going to get rid of Saddam Hussein and have a regime change and that our military will succeed. My concern is what it's going to do to the cooperation and bilateral institutions and multilateral institutions that we have built up in this world for the last fifty years.
On North Korea
Russert: Are you giving the United Nations, and in effect the French, a veto over the security of the United States?
Dean: Never. Never will I do that. And it would be wrong to do that.
Russert: But isn't that what you're doing--in effect?
Dean: No, because the argument is here--is the security of the United States affected by what is going on in Iraq today--and I don't believe it is. I do believe the security of the United States is affected by what is going on in North Korea, and I am deeply disturbed that we're not paying more attention to that. For the President to dismiss that as a regional conflict I thought was a terrible mistake.
Russert: You would negotiate unilaterally--bilaterally with the North Koreans?
Dean: Yes. We're doing half of the right thing with North Korea. We are in an alliance with the Japanese, the Russians, the South Koreans, and the Chinese, trying to get them to disarm. It's not been very effective yet, but I don't think that's our fault. The North Koreans have asked for bilateral talks. I'm very happy to do that. My proposal would be that we will enter into bilateral talks, that they will agree to freeze their program now with verifiable inspection on the grounds. We will agree, in writing, not to attack them and then we will begin the negotiation process. Both sides agreeing not to alter the status of the non-aggression and the freezing of the nuclear program, until the bilateral negotiations have concluded.
Note how Dean actually answers the question, usually with a simple yes or no, and then explains his position. This is in stark contrast to the President's press conference. This is how Dean handled the questions throughout the interview.
On Civil Unions:
Russert: Civil unions for gay couples. You believe the American people will accept that?
Russert: Even though they may be morally opposed to accepting homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.
Dean: I think, well first of all--I'm not sure you can say homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle. I think most people--most evidence says that homosexuality is genetic, so people don't choose the lifestyle. Secondly, I think that most people believe in equal rights under the law. What civil unions does is say that marriage is between a man and a woman, but same sex couples may enter into a civil union and have all of the same legal rights as people who get married--hospital visitation, insurance, inheritance. Vermont is the only state in the country where everyone is equal under the law, and I think that's a good thing, and I think most Americans believe that's a good thing.
The more important part, in some ways, is that even if you disagree with me. I signed that bill six months before my fifth re-election with 35% of the people supporting me. Now if I was willing to do that, that means is that what I value in my political career is doing the right thing as I see it, and change, and not just being re-elected and re-elected and re-elected.
There is some contention about whether Russert said that inspectors were expelled (false) or left (true). Here is the relevant part of the interview.
Russert: In 1999 the inspectors left Iraq, they compiled this report which is replete...
During the next question he shows a slide with the text (which Russert read aloud):
Does Iraq Have Chemical Weapons?
Russert: That is devasting evidence. With that kind of arsenal, why would you want Saddam Hussein to stay in power with control over those weapons of mass destruction?
"...Iraq has admitted that it produced 3,859 tons of chemical weapons in the 1980s, including mustard gas and lethal nerve agents such as sarin, tabun, and VX. ...when Iraq expelled the inspectors in 1998, it allegedly retained 6,000 chemical bombs, as well as 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas and some amount of VX."
Attributed to: Council on Foreign Relations: Iraq "Weapons of Mass Destruction" Fact Sheet
Dean: I don't want Saddam to stay in power with control over those weapons of mass destruction--I want him to be disarmed.
So, he "said" it but he was quoting the Council on Foreign Relations. I was forwarded these links to the CFR website from JB Armstrong at MyDD
. CFR says "expelled"
and CFR says "left"
. With both quotes available, choosing the expelled
one is an interesting editorial decision on Russert's part.
Someone on the forum of the dean2004 blog
is trying to misrepresent a part of the interview. Here is a relevant quote to dispel that mischaracterization (which was that Dean said he changed his mind on Social Security because he is running for present--Russert actually said it).
Russert shows an old quote by Dean agreeing with Sen. Packwood who said, among other things, that the Social Security retirement age should be raised to 70. Dean responds that he would need to look at the numbers. This exchange then follows:
Russert: Well Packwood said 70 and you said you agreed with him.
Dean: How long ago was that?
Russert: A couple of years (editor: 1995)
Dean: How long has it been since Bob Packwood was in the Senate? Was I even governor then? (editor: yes)
Russert: If you changed your mind, why did you change your mind?
Dean: Because I'm older and wiser and I know that you don't say things like that without looking at the numbers first.
Russert: And maybe running for president?
Dean: No. Look--you're going to get to know me pretty well over the course of this campaign and you're going to find out to my detriment and my credit--I don't often think about the political consequences to what I say. Which is probably just as well.