The Note

Frye: "Reports of Governor Dean's political dexterity suggest that he will look for some positions to flank President Bush, quite possibly on issues of human rights. I think it doubtful, however, that on these questions his maneuver would be to the right of Mr. Bush. More likely, especially in the context of widespread concerns over domestic civil liberties issues after 9/11, one speculates that he might move left on those issues."

"Bush has been, to use a poor term, less 'accommodationist' than some leaders with regard to China's or other governments' human rights practices — his rhetoric has been pretty direct in challenging those governments even while he has addressed particular issues with them in a pragmatic manner. (An exception is Bush's relatively soft comments on Russia's campaign in Chechnya.) So it will be hard to get to the president's right in that zone. More likely, one might think, would be outflanking Bush by asserting that he has been insufficiently attentive to crucial alliance relations, especially in NATO. The tattered state of those relations could invite conservative attack, on the grounds that traditionally important institutions have been damaged in recent months."

The Note: Amongst Democrats you know who worked on foreign policy in the Clinton years, is there a lot of interest in or support for Howard Dean?

Frye: "I would characterize their attitude as wary curiosity. There is concern that, to the degree his current themes and appeals are successful in mobilizing support among Democratic partisans, he could make it harder to produce a united party able to challenge Bush in the center. That is the clear message of the sharp critiques he has excited from circles around the Democratic Leadership Council."

The Note: "Have any of the candidates established themselves as the Council front-runners?"

Frye: "Since the Council never develops an institutional position on any candidate, no one can answer that question. At this stage Council members are beginning to listen, but I doubt that many have formed even preliminary views about their preferences among the Democratic contenders. Republicans among the diverse Council membership seem to parallel the national distribution of opinion in solid support for the president's foreign policy --- despite serious currents of unease about the prospect of protracted, inconclusive engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The Note: By what measures/standards will Governor Dean's audience today judge his remarks?

Frye: "As with all politicians, a lot of the reaction will be a matter of personal chemistry and subjective inclinations in the audience. Added to that, however, people will certainly be looking to see if there is depth, rather than superficiality or pre-cooked comments, in the Governor's assessment of the international scene. His skepticism about the policy in Iraq is already known, so members will be interested to learn how cogent an argument he develops on that issue."

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