Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What Biden Or Edwards Should Have Said

So Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean has once again enraged conservatives by saying something nasty about them in a speech. While discussing working Americans standing in long lines to vote, Dean said last week, "Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

Delaware Senator Joe Biden was quick to distance himself from Dean's comment saying "He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric, and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats."

"My own view is, the chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the Democratic Party," said former vice presidential candidate John Edwards at a fund-raising dinner on Saturday. "I don't agree with (him)."

OK, everyone take a deep breath.

The chairman of any major political party is expected to be a strong partisan and to make unflattering statements about the other side – it's almost in the job description. Based on their own tendency to simply make things up about their opponents, it's difficult to take the Republican whining over Dean's statements too seriously.

It's also standard operating procedure for office holders to appear more moderate and to distance themselves from harsh statements made by political operatives, so we need to cut Biden and Edwards a bit of a break.

But only a little. Even elected officials – and those, like Edwards, who may once again want to be elected – need to maintain a bit of a spine. Here's what either Biden or Edwards could have said that would have both maintained their above-the-fray stature while also standing with the party chairman:

"Howard Dean is obviously strongly partisan and sometimes phrases things in a different and stronger way than I might. But Republicans have made it clear that they do not stand for working families in this country, whether it's on issues of the minimum wage, health care or the fact that they're now going after the Family and Medical Leave Act. I don't think most Republicans have to answer for how much they've worked in their lives. I think they need to answer for why they care so little about working people in our country now."

There, was that so hard?