AirAmerica Radio's "Morning Sedition"
November 21, 2005
Maron: Howard Dean joins us by phone this morning. Great to have you on the show again, Dr. Dean. Welcome!
Dean: Thank you for having me on!
Maron: Well, look, Dr. Dean, I just gotta ask you right out, is there any way that we can get all the Democrats to agree that this war is the wrong thing right now and we've got to bring these troops home?
Dean: I think there is, and I think we're pretty close. I think Jack Murtha's leadership is just incredible. Oddly enough, the plan to get out, that I think we can get Democrats to coalesce around is a plan written by a Republican. By Lawrence Korb, who's a former Undersecretary of Defense.
Maron: We know him--he was on our show.
Dean: He's a very bright guy, and he's written a very interesting piece which I think is the key to how you get out of Iraq without endangering our troops or maximizing the terrorists' ability to cause mayhem over there. And I know Jack talked to him before he came out with his redeployment strategy. We need to redeploy our troops, the Guardsmen need to come home, there need to be a group sent to Kuwait to be on hand for the terrorist attacks, and there needs to be a group sent to Afghanistan so we can do the job there which the government wants us to do, and then we'll leave a few troops in Iraq over 2006 in order to stabilize the situation there which the President's made a huge mess of. So, I think that's a reasonable plan-- I think Democrats ought to coalesce around. I think we can do that. It's gradual.
Maron: So you think that what happened last week with the Republicans hijacking Jack Murtha's proposal and making their own to sort of call them on what they're seeing as some sort of bluff was the right move?
Dean: Oh, I think that the Democrats voting no on the Republican thing-- that Republican proposal was just ridiculous. They did what they always do: they rewrote something, pretended it was honest, I mean, this is probably the most dishonest group of people we've had running America since Richard Nixon's administration. They actually remind me a lot of Nixon's administration as well. You got Cheney in there talking about "pusillanimous pussyfooters" and you got the President out there saying "Victory is at hand". (Sardonic laugh) These guys, they wouldn't know the truth if it hit them in the face.
Riley: Dr. Dean, can red state Democrats, who seem to be the ones that at times will peel away from the Democratic consensus on many of these issues, particularly the ones who are up for re-election next year whether in Congress or the Senate, can they be depended on to stay the course on this? To hold with the rest of the Democrats?
Dean: I think they can, but I think we've got to sit down and draw this consensus and get people to sign on to this Lawrence Korb position. I think it makes sense, it's gradual. The Republicans have practically signed onto it in the Senate. They know their Commander in Chief has got us into a big problem here. And you start to see them peeling away. You saw the Senate pass a resolution that 2006 should be the year of transition . Well, that was a step in the right direction for the Republicans to take, and I was just delighted.
Maron: In terms of the Democrats who are seeking re-election, in terms of the Democrats coming together as we were talking about, do you think it's right to do what former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards did and admit that he was wrong in voting for the war in Iraq?
Dean: I think that was pretty courageous and it got a lot of attention. He didn't come out and dance around, he said, "Look, I was wrong. " Period. That was the first sentence of his piece, and I thought that was pretty courageous.
Maron: And what about some of the other parts of the platform you're looking towards in terms of the Democratic momentum.
Dean: Our agenda is very clear. What we want is, one, honesty back in government, and I want to have tough legislation passed that both Democrats and Republicans will have to abide by. Two, I really do want health insurance for all Americans. 36 other countries have it, I think we should have it. Three, we want a balanced budget, only Democrats balance the budget. You can't trust Republicans-- they haven't done it in 40 years in America. Four, we want jobs in America that will stay in America, and I think renewable energy is the key to that. And I think that's a pretty succinct agenda for the American people.
Maron: Hey, it sounds good.
Riley: Now, you were talking earlier, Dr. Dean, about ethics, and we see that there's a lobbying nest involving Jack Abramoff that has touched a couple of Democrats. Is the party itself really ready to change the way Washington does business, even if it hurts the party in the short term?
Dean: They'd better be, because the country is more important than the party. I've had enough of ethics problems in Congress and we need really good legislation that will stop this. You know, the Republicans came in in '94 and suggested they were going to clean up Washington, and of course they've made it even more corrupt than it was before. I want to fix this problem. We need some honesty in politics, and I know some people think that can never be achieved, and we'll never get to it 100%, but what's going on now is awful! We've never been at a time, that I ever know of, where the Republican leader in the Senate was under investigation, the Republican leader in the House is indicted, Karl Rove, who has security clearance, for God's sake, after leaking wartime information! The President can't tell the truth-- I don't think he even knows what the truth is any more--
Maron: And the Vice President's under suspicion!
Dean: Well, the Vice President, you know who the Vice President is. Spiro Agnew! (In background, laughter and "Ooooooh!" from the Marks.)
Maron: So how are you doing with money, Dr. Dean? You guys have enough to facilitate this thing?Dean: I think so. We just broke the record in terms of off-year fundraising, without any soft money, so I think we're doing fine. You know, we've really done what we had to do. We've got people working right now in all 50 states. We've got a strong way of communicating with the American people that doesn't depend on the mainstream media, including thanks to you at Air America. I think we're in good shape. There's always more you can do, and the big thing we want to do is get small donors to give the Democrats money. I want everybody to go to Democrats.org and get a Democracy Bond. That's ten or twenty dollars a month off your credit card. We want to make the party dependent upon Americans and not just big interests. And so we are trying to raise a lot of small dollars, and if you'll go to our web site Democrats.org, people can help!
Riley: Okay, Doctor, there was a problem at one point with some congressional Democrats and your leadership. Has that beef been resolved?
Dean: Oh, I think it has. We now have the House, the Senate, the governors and the mayors all working together on messaging and agenda, and that stuff has been resolved. I'm always going to be an outsider, so you know, there's going to be some discomfort. But Harry Reid has been an enormous ally, I mean, he really tells it like it is. And a lot of the real catalyst in questioning whether the President has been truthful or not started when Harry Reid decided to shut down the Senate over the fact that Republicans had lied to him about whether they were going to do a congressional investigation to find out what happened at the beginning of the Iraq war. He's a great partner. And Nancy Pelosi has really brought the House Democrats together. So I do think that things are heading in the right direction, and I think things are going well that way.
Maron: Well thank you Dr. Dean. I was just in Vermont, and they wanted to wish you a belated happy birthday.
Dean: Well, thank you very much, and Happy Thanksgiving to you guys!
Renee in Ohio, a longtime Dean blogger, originally posted this transcript on the Shadow BFA blog. Thanks, Renee!