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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Top Shelf Democrat Marshall Objects to Dean's Implied Split Party Threat

In his Talking Points Memo blog today, leading Democratic blogger Josh Marshall objected strenuously to Howard Dean's implied threat to split the party. It looks like William Safire was on the money the other day.

Here are Marshall's thoughts:

Howard Dean said yesterday that DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe should rein in the fusillade of attacks coming Dean's way from other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

For the moment, I don't have any particular comment on that. They can attack. He can say they shouldn't attack. He can ask McAuliffe to make them stop. Whatever ...

But then Dean goes on to imply (once again) that his supporters won't support another Democratic nominee.

"I don't know where they're going to go, but they're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician," the Times quotes Dean as saying.

The Times goes on to say ...

Though Dr. Dean has repeatedly said he would back whichever Democrat wins the nomination, he said Sunday that support was "not transferable anymore" and that endorsements, including his own, "don't guarantee anything."
"Right now those guys think we're the front-runner, so they're saying all this stuff, `He can't win'," Dr. Dean said. "How are they going to win?

I don't care if Dean says he'll endorse whoever wins. He's playing the defection card. And that crosses the line.

I don't doubt that it would be hard to reconcile some Dean supporters to another Democratic nominee. But that's not the point. By saying it, he's leveraging it, and encouraging it.

The price of admission to the Democratic primary race is a pledge of committed support to whomever wins the nomination, period. (The sense of entitlement to other Democrats' support comes after you win the nomination, not before.) If Dean can't sign on that dotted-line, he has no business asking for the party's nomination.

Bolding added.