Thursday, May 05, 2005

Open Letter to Rep Dennis Kucinich

UPDATE: In the Question & Answer session after his speech to the Minnesota ACLU, Howard Dean expounds upon his comment -- "I hope the President's plan succeeds." You can hear it for yourself at the PBS tape of Dean's speech. The Q&A session is after his speech. You need to use RealPlayer to hear this audio clip.

It's obvious that that newspaper reporter or editor or both truncated Dean's comments on our current situation in Iraq and his view of our responsibilities there.
This is why Dennis Kucinich should not have attacked Howard Dean directly. I would have had no problem with Mr. Kucinich criticizing all Democrats, who support staying in Iraq for whatever reasons they have, but to single out Howard Dean and to use a truncated quote of Dean by a newspaper reporter was wrong.


May 5, 2005

Dear Mr. Kucinich,

I'm responding to your Open Letter to Howard Deanthat was posted on the Internet on May 4, 2005. This letter along with links to the original version of your letter and to the revised one will be in this letter. I think it's time someone chastises you out for your hypocrisy, and as a member of my town's Democratic committee, I feel obligated to do so and that is why I'm posting my Open Letter to you on the Internet.

I'm not a constituent of yours, but thanks to being inspired by Howard Dean, I'm now the secretary of my town's Democratic Committee.

While I'm not interested in running for elected office, I'm interested in rebuilding the Democratic Party from the grassroots up. Howard Dean gave me hope that there are Democratic leaders, who saw the Democratic Party in a state of atrophy and are willing to work with Democrats, both rank-and-file and local Democratic leaders, like my committee members, to resuscitate the Party from the grassroots up. That's why I asked my Democratic Committee to publicly endorse Howard Dean for DNC Chair, and my Committee responded by unanimously endorsing him.

I have read both your original and revised open letters to Howard Dean. It was very sloppy of you and your staff for publishing the original letter on the Internet with the major error -- the home state of Paul Wellstone, the only senator to vote against the war. We both know that 23 senators voted against the Iraq War Resolution. I also found it interesting that the Left-wing Media web sites, which posted both your letters, posted the revised one without noting that they were doing so, but fortunately, I saved a copy of the original letter and am posting a link to my copy of it at the end of this open letter. I will gladly show it to everyone, who uses your revised edition to attack Howard Dean, to prove that you are far from the perfect progressive your portray yourself as.

In both your Open Letters, you make the same mistake that you made about Howard Dean during the primary campaign. You assumed that Dean was totally anti-war and that is why anti-war progressives swarmed to his campaign.

You quoted Howard Dean, "Now that we're there [in Iraq], we're there and we can't get out.... I hope the President is incredibly successful with his policy now." And then you rhetorically asked, "Did these words really come from the same man who claimed to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, and who had recently campaigned on the antiwar theme? What's changed?"

If you had paid attention to what Howard Dean had said during the primary campaign, you would know that nothing has changed in regards to Dean's position on the 2003 Iraq war and its aftermath.

Here is a quote from PBS Online Newshour interview of Howard Dean on Sept. 4, 2003 -- -- that sums up Dean's position on Iraq:

I supported the first war in Iraq because one of our allies was invaded, and I thought we had a responsibility to defend them. I supported the war in Afghanistan; 3,000 of our people were murdered?As commander in chief of the United States military, I will never hesitate to send troops anywhere in the world to defend the United States of America. But as commander in chief of the United States military I will never send our sons and daughters and our brothers and sisters to a foreign country in harm's way without telling the truth to the American people about why they're going there. And that judgment needs to be made first, not afterwards.

We need more troops. They're going to be foreign troops, as they should have been in the first place, not American troops. Ours need to come home.

This was Dean's position during the primary race as well as after he bowed out of the race. Howard Dean never said during the primary that he was totally anti-war and I dare you to prove it.

Contrary to the distortions you spread in your Open Letter, Mr. Kucinich, Howard Dean's position on Iraq is consistent with what he said during the primary -- that we can't just pull out and abandon Iraq to chaos. The basis of Howard Dean's position is Afghanistan post-Soviet withdrawal, not Dean becoming "Republican-lite." Remember, Presidents Reagan and Bush I abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out, and Afghanistan turned into a "failed" state, which played host to Al Qaeda, who attacked us on 9-11-2001. Howard Dean's position makes valid points and must be considered when we decide to withdraw from Iraq. Iraq is much closer to Europe and Saudi Arabia, our major source of foreign oil, than Afghanistan is, so if Iraq followed the same path as Afghanistan, it won't just be the US who has a serious security issue to deal with.

After reading your letters, I drew the conclusion that you are just trying to pump up your ego to run for President again in 2008, and you're trying to paint yourself as the only "pure" anti-war hero in Congress. What I detect in your letter, Mr. Kucinich, is jealously towards Howard Dean's pre-primary success and the continuation of his popular support from many Democrats and progressives who opposed the 2003 Iraq war.

Another major flaw in your argument against Howard Dean is that you assume that the anti-2003-Iraq-War protester = longtime anti-war advocate. You are completely wrong about who makes up the anti-war and progressive groups today. While there are still elements of anti-war elements from the Far Left, the ones whom you court, many of us prefer to evaluate each situation as it arises on whether or not military action is the best or worse way to respond to the crisis. While we are reluctant to support war, we know that we live in a dangerous world and that military power is still needed to defend this nation and to help protect our allies. It just happened that with George W Bush's 2003 Iraq War, the Far Left and many moderates joined forces to oppose that war and the precedent it would set, but that doesn't mean that moderates have become members of the Far Left Wing.

You also need to consider that some Far Left anti-war advocates continue to support Howard Dean, even if they disagree with him on some of his positions. One anti-war/pacifist advocate, who is a Dean supporter to this day told me that she still supports Howard Dean because "Howard Dean is always who he says he is and Howard Dean knows how to look at a problem and fix it."

Just because us, moderates, and the Far Left joined forces to protest the 2003 Iraq War, does not mean that we are united on our opinion of "what to do now in Iraq." I believe that the United States is in a Catch-22 position, thanks to President Bush. There is no easy way out, however, I do believe that we need to send a message to our troops that torture is morally wrong, and they should stop it immediately, even if it means disobeying orders from a superior. We also need to rein in our corporations, who are squandering ours and Iraqi resources, get Iraqis employed with meaningful work, and stop trying to convert Iraq into an American colony.

Mr. Kucinich, many of us who protested the 2003 Iraq War don't and never have supported you or many of your positions, like your long history of anti-abortion votes. As a former Catholic myself, I am aware that you are or were a Catholic and voted on abortion in accordance with Catholic teaching. Your change on abortion started happening when you were getting a divorce and you discovered that the Catholic Church frowns upon divorce too. It also helped your 2004 Presidential ambition and campaign purse to be pro-choice. This proves that you yourself are not a pure progressive and are susceptible to dark motives.

But since you consider yourself a Progressive Crusader and man of integrity, I wonder, Mr. Kucinich, if you will write a public letter commending Howard Dean for diversifying the DNC management team. Have you not seen the following article in The American Prospect?

The Chairman's Colorful Cabinet
Howard Dean is bringing minorities to the top of the minority party. That's rarer than you might think.

Rebuilding the Democratic Party from the grassroots up to be a viable opposition party is a Herculean effort. I do not envy Howard Dean's task at doing so, but unlike you, Mr. Kucinich, Howard Dean is appealing to a broader group than just the Left Wing extremists and the Democrats in your own district in Ohio. Howard Dean is working for the good of all Democrats regardless of their position on Iraq. It's hypocritical for you to chastise Howard Dean in public when you will not do the same to all the Democrats who voted for the 2002 Iraq War Resolution, like Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Sen. John Edwards. Remember former Senator Edwards? He was one of the pro-war senators whom you asked your supporters in Iowa to throw their support to if you did not achieve viability in the Iowa Caucuses. Was that tactic due to your jealousy towards Howard Dean's pre-primary success or was it a sign of your hypocrisy about the 2003 Iraq War?

Terry Barton, secretary of Killingly, CT Democratic Committee

Links to Rep Kucinich's revised letter from

Here's the link -- -- to a copy of the original Kucinich letter that I got from IndyMedia web site.


At May 6, 2005 at 7:17 PM, Blogger switzerblog said...

well done, Terry. I crossposted this at Kos, I hope you don't mind!

At May 6, 2005 at 7:20 PM, Blogger Playitsam said...

Thanks for that letter to Kucinich. I am so pleased with Dean as Democratic Party Chairperson! He's doing a great job.

At May 7, 2005 at 10:37 PM, Blogger Eleanor said...

Howard Dean was a lousy candidate for President, and he makes a pitiful chair. What an over-hyped blowhard. He was supposed to be anti-war, at least that's what all his flyers in Iowa said (THE ONLY major ANTI-WAR CANDIDATE), and now he's talking all bushy. So sorry you had to find out the hard way what a poser he was; I can tell you're upset.

At June 3, 2005 at 6:42 PM, Blogger thinkphysics1 said...

Dean's position has not changed. He never claimed to be against all war, just the Iraq war. His position appears to be that at this point we would do more harm by leaving than by staying. This is a defensable position, although it becomes less defensible as time goes by.

It is clear that Dean was not a great candidate, not because of his position on the war, but because of his bellecose personality. That doesn't mean his positions were wrong or that he did not make a major contribution. In fact, Kerry was not an ideal candidate. He always tended to blather on and never get to the point. Combine the two people and you might have had a winner.

However, given that Kucinich never got into double digits in any primary, it is also clear that both Dean and Kerry were far better candidates than Kucinich. If Kucinich, or any other totally antiwar candidate, had been the nominee, the Democrats would have polled 35% of the vote, not 48%. And if Kucinich or a Kucinich look-alike is nominated in 2008, the Democrats will get 35% of the vote then.

Although I hate the Iraq war, I still believe we need to be able to defend ourselves if necessary, as when we were attacked by Al Quaede. I would hate to have to choose between a fool like Bush who misuses the military to do the horrendous things that have been done in Iraq, and a fool like Kucinich, who thinks that if we were only a little nicer, everyone would love us and we wouldn't need a military at all.

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