McGovern’s McGovern

Lawrence Kaplan has a very good piece on Howard Dean as McGovern. He makes some very good points, which should have the Dems scared.

Will commentators never stop analogizing Howard Dean to George McGovern? Will they never acknowledge that, far from being a single-issue “peace” candidate, Dean is a sensible moderate who boasts a fairly conservative record?

That’s the repeated complaint from a chorus of opinion-makers who, having uncovered in Dean’s antiwar harangues evidence of “nuance” and “moderation,” argue that comparisons to the hapless 1972 candidate mislead more than they clarify. Neatly summarizing the revised wisdom, American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner instructs, “Dean is fundamentally a moderate. He was a fiscal conservative, rather centrist governor,” while the National Journal’s Jonathan Rauch warns that “Republicans chortling that Dean would be the next McGovern had better watch out: He may be the next Clinton.” Taking the argument a step further, the Dean 2004 Web site trumpeted the rollout of the governor’s ostensibly tough-minded foreign policy team with the admonition, “McGovernize This!” — a request, alas, that anyone who bears the slightest familiarity with the writings of its members could all too easily oblige. Which is the burden those who reject the McGovern caricature must bear: In Dean’s case, the caricature happens to be substantially true.

As Kaplan points out, McGovern has praised Dean in a 5,000 word essay in Playboy.