Did I mention before that William Saletan is exceedingly nit-picky?
Slate has generally fallen out of my favor in the last year or two, and this does not deviate from their usual pattern of cynicism-for-sport.
The central critique of Democrats seems to be that they are weak, wishy-washy and do not act like a strong opposition party. Then a guy -- Dean -- comes along who's willing to call a spade a spade, and stands up to the bullshit being spewed at us by the administration and the Republicans, and Saletan's problem is that he comes off as "arrogant" and "overconfident"? What exactly do you want?
His criticisms seem to begin and end at:
-an adverb here, an adverb there
-a candidate who was essentially right about an issue telling people that he was right about it.
-one of his staffers wore a pair of shorts
Wednesday, Dean again laced his remarks with caveats. "Increasing numbers of people in Europe, Asia, and in our own hemisphere cite America not as the strongest pillar of freedom and democracy but, somewhat unfairly, as a threat to peace," he said. Of Iraq, he added, "Although we may have won the war, we are failing to win the peace." Somewhat? May have? Why the uncertainty? (emphases Saletan's)Saletan did speak positively on the war in the run-up period. But just for him, here's a good reason for uncertainty: 59 US casualties, to date, since Bush stood on the USS Lincoln with the "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him. Photo-ops do not a war's end make. Lately, we've been averaging around a massacre a day. Even shopping is unsafe. To show incredulity that someone, a popular political candidate, says the war in Iraq may not be over or even fully decided, is just plain silly, or worse, ignorant.
In the eyes of many, Dean is becoming more immunized every day against whatever consequences there were supposed to be for his Iraq war stance by current events. Nevertheless, I think in terms of Dean, the right's strategy will still be to take him on by saying he's weak on national security. We've even seen that line of thinking from Kerry spokesman Chris Lehane, while misguidedly attacked Dean for his "we won't always have the world's strongest military" line. Certainly Russert's hack job on Meet the Press -- asking the White House for talking points, is that standard for this kind of thing? -- also lends to this sort of strategy.