"It's a pathetic thing that I'm considered the most progressive candidate..." - Howard Dean, in an interview with the Progressive Noam Scheiber on Howard Dean in The New Republic: In an interview yesterday with The New York Times, Howard Dean complained that, "This is the most fiscally irresponsible president since Herbert Hoover. Republicans don't balance budgets anymore. Democrats do." Huh? If memory serves, the reason Herbert Hoover was such a colossal failure as president was that he elevated the balanced budget to the level of fetish--insisting upon raising taxes and slashing spending even as the nation teetered on the edge of one of the worst economic disasters in history. So dogmatic was Hoover's commitment to budget balance that even in June of 1932, near the depths of the Depression, he complained bitterly about the wastefulness of two bills adopted by Congress to provide unemployment relief, largely by funding public works projects...If Herbert Hoover was fiscally irresponsible, I'd hate to see Howard Dean's idea of fiscal responsibility. Indeed. Rhetoric like this is troubling from Dean precisely because as Governor his passion for balancing budgets so often outpaced his passion for social justice - it's not a fluke that 10% of Vermont voted for a Progressive Party candidate to his left. I'd like to believe that Dean recognizes that Hoover's devotion to balancing the budget was profoundly irresponsible national, social, and indeed fiscal policy. He likely does. But he's yet to lay an ideological groundwork for why. This should give pause to those progressives - myself included - who would like very much to see Dean as the fierce critic, coherent alternative, and tested progressive he so often paints himself to be.

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