Sunday, June 12, 2005

On Dean

Okay, to start, I actually like Howard Dean. I thought he would be a better candidate than Kerry (yes, the "Taller than Mickey Rooney" award) mainly because there would be a definite choice between Bush and Dean. That impression was solidified throughout the lackadaisical campaign Kerry ran - imagine Dean not responding to a charge akin to the Swifties idjits, for example. HOW he would have responded may have been bad, but there would have been a response, all right.

Since I like him, I wasn't too worried when he won the DNC chair. I thought it would be worthwhile for the Dems to have someone who would fire back at the Republicans when they made some of their "with us or against us" statements. And I admit that on a visceral level, I even like some of his comments that have drawn ire recently - Tom DeLay ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence,", and the Republicans being a "white, Christian party." (By the way, the whole quote give some context: Republicans are "not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party." However, see below.)

So I'm not ready to demand he step down, nor am I that worried yet. (As Media Matters notes, Democratic contributions have been rising, contrary to what many in the media have said.) But there are some qualms.

Firstly, even granted some visceral pleasure that the Republicans are finally getting hit by some of the same stuff they throw (for example, Frist and Justice Sunday), it's still something that unnerves me. Politics is degenerating into a shouting match rather than a debate, and while I like the fact that the Democrats aren't being mute, I wish that they could be the voice of reason in the mob rather than the mob on a different side.

(Unspoken fear: Not only is this what the Democrats will become, be it under Dean or whoever, it's the only thing that will work. After all, the Republicans have mostly been this way for some time and have managed to win elections fairly regularly. I have trouble thinking of serious initiatives the Republicans have put forth that hasn't been rife with snarls, snaps and just churlish behavior. See Sensenbrenner for one of the latest scenes.)

Secondly, Dean's statements are just gold nuggets for the next campaign. I live in a Republican state, and I can hear one of the next ads: "Dean says the Republican party is a white, Christian party. We proudly admit we're Christian - what does that make THEM?" And the Democrats will have very little room to complain here. So even if it scores points in the short run, it will be used against them in the long run.

Thirdly ties in with the above - the statements he makes seems to show that he speaks first and thinks later. Surely there was a better way to make the point that the Republicans are fairly monolithic in terms of makeup, for example, instead of giving the next sound bite away. (And as I sit and try to write one, I find it's not so easy as all that...but to my mind, my attempts ("The Republicans seem to be pretty much the same, don't they?" or "It seems like you must meet certain requirements to be a Republican in their power structure." for example) at least aren't so obviously soundbite friendly.)

As I said above, the horrible thing is Dean may be exactly what the Democrats need in this political environment. It's bringing in the money, for one thing. It seems that reasoned debate and good facts can be swept away by hyperbole and insults, and if Dean can at least bring us to the table using that method...well, is that a good thing or a bad one?

I don't know.


Kevin said...

In terms of fundraising it was probably a really good thing. Amnesty, like Dean, also made a controversial comment recently by calling Guantanamo the "Gulag of our times." Ever since the quote, visits to Amnesty's site has tripled, donations have increased five times their usual amount. Just as Amnesty ultimately benefited financially from their controversial comment, I expect Democrats to benefit as well from Dean's comments.

In terms of 2006, Republicans look to be going into that year with some serious baggage on all fronts. It all depends on how advanced the Democratic counter-attack machine can evolve to coutner Republican attacks. We cannot sit there like we did with such things as the controversy over the Swift Boat Vets last election. With a good defense from Republicans already set, we can focus in 2006 of throwing some offense, and having the Republicans on the defense for once.

sweet magnolia said...

King, this must have really gotten to you; I have never seen you ramble. Dean seems to be a good guy although I cannot decide if I like him or not as President. And I am not offended by his words or his deeds. What does trouble me is that the media takes things out of context and that is used to measure the man (or woman). Dean's scream was out of context (without the enhanced mikes that scream was barely heard in the din of the noise of the room), Cosby was taken out of context and then mis-reported. We as a people need to demand better of our press. As good a deed was the work of Woodstein, every since Watergate the media has gone to that place that one goes in a hand-basket.

Brian said...

Kevin -

I guess in terms of fundraising it's good. And I can see that the Republicans are having some early problems with image. And I can also see where fighting fire with fire can be a neccesity. What worries me is when do the Democrats become just as bad as the Republicans - and is that what's it going to take for the Dems. to become a more united/powerful party again?

Brian said...


No argument that Dean's scream was mismanaged to the nth degree by media companies - I seem to recall CNN even apologizing for their role in it. And I've often commented that the media has become biased towards bad reporting more so than anything.