Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Tao of Dean

Lately, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been getting into some hot water for comments he's been making about Republicans.

Last Thursday, when discussing the travesty that in last year's election people had to wait in line for up to 8 hours to vote, Dean said:

Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.
Then on Monday, Dean said Republicans are:

...not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party.

At first my reaction was "what the hell is he doing!?!?" but when I looked at it more closely, it became clear to me that these aren't gaffes. He knows exactly what he's doing.

As a result of his presidential campaign, Dean has a reputation perpetuated in the media for being extremely liberal, as unfounded as that may be. So Dean is merely playing to type, essentially fulfilling the role that's been written for him by Republicans and the media. It has the added bonus of riling up the Democratic base because he's expressing what many Democrats think about the Republican Party but might not want to say. The reason Dean can do this with impunity is that he is not an elected official, but merely the fundraising cheerleading head of the DNC. And what Dean's antics allow actual elected Democrats to do is condemn his words, thus appearing more moderate and mainstream:
Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday that Dean is doing a good job, but is not the party's spokesman.

Last weekend, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards criticized Dean for his recent remarks, saying he doesn't speak for them.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, talking with reporters today, said she did not agree with the statement Dean made about the Republican Party.

In addition, by using provocative language, Dean is forced to respond to the comments where, not only does he not back down from them, thus presenting himself, and by extension Democrats, as having a spine, but in so doing he gets his true message about the Democratic Party through the media filter.

Cases in point, after Thursday's remarks, Dean's response was reported as follows:
"The point I was making is clear: Republican policies have declared war on hardworking Americans," Dean said Friday. "I will continue to criticize Republican leaders and their policies, and the Democratic Party will continue to offer constructive alternatives."

And after his Monday remarks:

Dean noted that he, too, is a white Christian. But he said the GOP is too narrow in its scope and the Democratic Party is far more diverse.


Challenged on that during the NBC interview, Dean said "unfortunately, by and large it is. And they have the agenda of the conservative Christians."

"This is a diversion from the issues that really matter: Social Security, and adequate job opportunity, strong public schools, a strong defense," Dean said.

I gave the DNC $25 recently even though I was determined not to after getting pretty much nothing for my money last year. But after Dean's strong unapologetic appearance on Meet The Press a few weeks ago, I was happy to give again and told the solicitor as much.

Thanks, Chairman Dean.


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