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December 07, 2005

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Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is drawing GOP fire after telling a Texas radio s [Read More]

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Please do not confuse attacks on Dean for what he said with suppression of dissent. When the Government charges Dean with sedition and puts him on trial, then you can talk about suppression of dissent and I'll join you. In the meantime, the outlandish statements he is prone to make are fair game for all kinds of criticism.

Look at it this way, when the Democrats criticized the President's speech at Annapolis, when they accuse him of "lying the country into war" and having no strategy in Iraq, did you think those were attempts by the Democrats to suppress his speech, to intimidate him from speaking out? Of course not.

What's the difference?

There's a clear difference between criticizing the content of someone's speech and suggesting that their statements are an attempt to aid the enemy at a time of war. It may not be the Alien and Sedition Acts, but it's nonetheless part of an anti-democratic campaign to intimidate dissenting speech.

Brendan,

Seriously. Is Dean intimidated by anyone? Is anyone that criticizes the war feel threatened by anyone who thinks their speech is bad for our troops.

If we agree that what we have is an anti-democratic campaign to intimiate dissenting speech, then you are part of that campaign. You are intimidating all those who are critical of those who say we can't win the war. Don't they have free speech rights, too?

The argument that speech saying we need to get out of Iraq and we have lost or are losing the war is putting our troops in harm's way is a valid one. Are we not allowed to make that argument?

The fact that the enemy is comforted by the voices of the anti-war left is real. The Viet Cong were upfront in their praise of the anti-war effort. As long as Zarqawi and his fellow terrorists feel like they are making progress and are "beating" the United States through internal division and constant internal calls for immediate troop withdrawals, they will work harder and harder until the breaking point.

What say you?

Nice try, but that's not right. I'm not "intimidating" legitimate speech; I'm criticizing those who try to silence others. You have every right to criticize Dean. But it's not right to say he's on the side of Al Qaeda, which is a slur, not a fair response to the content of his statement. There's a difference.

Brendan,
Is it fair, in your view, to say that Dean's speech, regardless of his specific intent, lends aid and comfort to the jihadists who hope to win in DC what they cannot win on the ground in Iraq?

This is what the Soviets used to call "objective" intent. The notion of "objective" intent has been much criticised and for good reasons - there's a difference between someone like Dean, who surely does not want to see jihadists slaughtering infidels, and Noam Chomsky or Ward Churchill, who think the jihadists are waging a just war against Western Imperialism - but nonetheless I don't think Dean and the other anti-war Democrats can escape criticism for the unintended consequences of their speech, which is to give aid and comfort to the enemy. I don't view that as "suppression of dissent" in any way, shape or manner.

"Is it fair, in your view, to say that Dean's speech, regardless of his specific intent, lends aid and comfort to the jihadists who hope to win in DC what they cannot win on the ground in Iraq?"

No.

To elaborate, we can tell stories all day about what the terrorists want or don't want. Some people think Bush played right into Osama Bin Laden's hands by invading Iraq and creating a massive confrontation between Islam and the West. The point is that we just don't know what they actually want, and ultimately it's irrelevant. This is a democracy. Using the language of treason -- "aid and comfort" -- to describe legitimate political speech is out of bounds.

For more of my work on this, check out the Spinsanity archives.

Assuming all the quotes in BN's post are correct, the NY Post misquoted Dean, who used the word "unfortunately."

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