Howard Dean mad at Obama
THE RESURRECTION OF HOWARD DEAN
GREAT MOMENTS IN POLITICAL
[As transcribed by ABC Note from
a visit by Howard Dean to room 102 at Longfellow Middle School
in La Crosse where students were examining water samples under
HOWARD DEAN : Which do you think
is safer, to drink water from your toilet or from the river?
STUDENT: I'd rather drink from the
HD: That's right. . .
HD: Which has more bacteria, dog
pee or river water?"
CLASS: Dog pee
HD: I do not recommend drinking
urine, but if you drink water straight from the river you have
a greater chance of getting an infection that if you drink urine.
- It's true that Dean yelled at his Monday night rally in Iowa.
And so what? Basically, at a pep rally, he yelled like a football
coach. This is described as being 'unpresidential.' But says
who? Isn't giving insulting nicknames to world leaders unpresidential?
Isn't sending hundreds of American soldiers to die for uncertain
and misrepresented ends in Iraq unpresidential? Or worth considering
as such? Isn't having an incredibly poor grasp of essential world
facts and an aversion to detail and active decision-making unpresidential?
As far as I can tell, the worst Howard Dean has done is to try
to be himself. Or, even worse, according to critics, to show
some flexibility in demeanor when it is demanded of him.
The guy just can't win with the
media and the pundits, which again suggests that he CAN win in
the long run. And that scares people. One doesn't need to take
sides to see that the treatment of this man is unbecoming of
the media. It's also going to be seen in retrospect as colossally
one-sided, not in any way balanced by comparable scrutiny or
criticism of his rivals.
ABC NEWS NOTE -
One thing we gotta mention: Dean is smiling when he yelps. He's
not yelping in anger. So stop, fellow media world, saying that
he was angry when he was yelping. . . On the Today show today,
Katie played Monday's Dean speech 3 times (from late night show
bits) for Chris Matthews, who said that he had played it four
times on Hardball. . . Leno and Letterman, one time each last
night. . . On GMA, only once. And 'we contextualized it.' So
SOME TIME BACK I heard a story about
a longtime acquaintance of Dean who went to his office to express
his disagreement over some issue. The governor got upset and
bawled him out. The man left Dean and went down the hall to another
office. The staff members present told the governor that he better
follow his friend and apologize. Dean did just that. The man
now says he is supporting Dean for president.
This story is not a typical one
about a politician. I can't think of
any of the candidates other than Dean who would act in that manner,
as a man of passion but also of decency.
His way of handling the over-emphasized
yelling incident is another case in point. It is clear that he
is no more happy about what he did than are many voters. Yet
again, his graceful, decent, and even funny way of handling this
rhubarb suggests a rarity in American politics - a politician
who is still human. As he told Diane Sawyer, "I was having
a great time. I am not a perfect person, believe me, I have all
kinds of warts. I wear cheap suits sometimes, I say things that
I probably ought not to say, but I lead with my heart, and that's
what I was doing right there, leading with my heart."
Most national politicians don't
act like Dean because they have been taught to act in essentially
artificial and non-human ways towards the real things that happen
around them. They have been taught to lock up their hearts as
if they were dangerous firearms. Dean dares to be himself. Whether
one ultimately votes for him or not, he should be honored rather
than punished for this. He has reminded us all that we are still
alive and not merely virtual parodies of ourselves like our media
mannequins and political puppets. - SAM SMITH
DEAN SUPPORTED NATIONAL ID CARDS
EVEN TO USE A COMPUTER
DECLAN MCCULLAGH - Fifteen months
before Dean said he would seek the presidency, the former Vermont
governor spoke at a conference in Pittsburgh co-sponsored by
smart-card firm Wave Systems where he called for state drivers'
licenses to be transformed into a kind of standardized national
ID card for Americans. Embedding smart cards into uniform IDs
was necessary to thwart "cyber-terrorism" and identity
theft, Dean claimed. "We must move to smarter license cards
that carry secure digital information that can be universally
read at vital checkpoints," Dean said in March 2002, according
to a copy of his prepared remarks. "Issuing such a card
would have little effect on the privacy of Americans."
Dean also suggested that computer
makers such as Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway and Sony should
be required to include an ID card reader in PCs--and Americans
would have to insert their uniform IDs into the reader before
they could log on. "One state's smart-card driver's license
must be identifiable by another state's card reader," Dean
said. . .
"On the Internet, this card
will confirm all the information required to gain access to a
state (government) network--while also barring anyone who isn't
legal age from entering an adult chat room, making the Internet
safer for our children, or prevent adults from entering a children's
chat room and preying on our kids...Many new computer systems
are being created with card reader technology. Older computers
can add this feature for very little money," Dean said.
NETWORKS GANGED UP ON DEAN
A majority of nightly network newscast
evaluations of Democratic Presidential frontrunner Howard Dean
were negative during the 2003 "preseason," while three-quarters
of the coverage given to the other eight candidates was favorable,
according to research conducted by the Center for Media and Public
Affairs. The study also finds network airtime devoted to the
campaign is down 62 percent from the year before the 1996 election,
the last race involving an incumbent president.
THE MAN BEHIND THE ATTACK ON DEAN
SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, NY TIMES -
The documents - those nasty tidbits that campaigns euphemistically
call "opposition research" - are flying in the scrappy
final days of the Democratic contests here and in Iowa. At the
center of the maelstrom, Democrats say, is a 36-year-old aide
to Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a frenetic, colorful and, some contend,
devious communications strategist named Chris Lehane. Every campaign
has people behind the scenes feeding unflattering facts about
opponents to the press. But Mr. Lehane - a veteran of Al Gore's
2000 campaign and the Clinton White House, where his specialty
was blunting queries from investigative reporters - is such a
shrewd practitioner of what one admiring strategist called "the
political black arts" that lately, when a negative story
appears, rivals point to him. . .
Now, Mr. Lehane has become a target
in a fight among Democrats about whether opposition research
is going too far. With General Clark rising in the polls in New
Hampshire and Howard Dean facing a spate of negative news reports,
from stories about stock he sold as Vermont's governor to remarks
maligning the Iowa caucuses, many Democrats are convinced they
see the invisible hand of Chris Lehane. . .
- Acting at the behest of Bill and Hillary Clinton, a senior
campaign aide to Gen. Wesley Clark has carried out the "political
assassination" of Democratic presidential front-runner Howard
Dean, former top Clinton advisor Dick Morris contended late Friday.
"I believe we have witnessed a political assassination of
Howard Dean by the Clintons," Morris told Fox News Channel's
"Hannity & Colmes" - hours after polls showed that
Dean's once formidable lead in Iowa had evaporated. Morris named
Clark communications director Chris Lehane, a former Gore campaign
spokesman who cut his teeth as a key operative in the Clinton
White House's attack machine. . .
Morris said that other candidates
don't have the resources for the kind of opposition research
that Lehane has been carrying out for Gen. Clark, whose campaign
is staffed wall-to-wall with Clinton White House veterans. "The
places that have the money for negative research are the Democratic
National Committee and the Clintons," said Morris.
DEAN URGED CLINTON TO TAKE UNILATERAL
ACTION IN BOSNIA
STEVE KOMAROW, USA TODAY - Democratic
presidential contender Howard Dean, a strong critic of what he
calls President Bush's unilateral approach to foreign policy,
urged President Clinton to act unilaterally and enter the war
in Bosnia in 1995. "I have reluctantly concluded that the
efforts of the United States and NATO in Bosnia are a complete
failure," he wrote, citing reports of genocide during the
Bosnian civil war. "If we ignore these behaviors ... our
moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. ... We must take unilateral
action." The July 19, 1995, letter, obtained by USA TODAY,
was written on Dean's official stationery as Vermont governor.
The language appears to contradict Dean's core complaint that
President Bush has followed a unilateral foreign policy, instead
of a multilateral approach that relies on consultation and joint
action with allies.
AFTER HOURS DIVISION
ESTABLISHMENT WAR AGAINST DEAN
HANNA ROSIN WASHINGTON POST - It's
New Year's Eve and the tap is open. The Edwards people, with
Budweisers in hand, crowd the section of bar closest to the pool
tables. Nearby, some Lieberman interns sway/dance, free Bacardi
Bat necklaces swinging on their necks. Someone from Gephardt's
campaign is lighting a Camel Light, and the Clark guys are scattered
near the TV screens.
In the smoky haze of Raxx Billiards,
representatives from all but one of the major Democratic presidential
campaigns can be found. "They were invited," says Sen.
Joe Lieberman's New Hampshire director, Peter Greenberger, who
helped put the party together. As usual, though, the Dean people
DEAN'S PROBLEMS - Dean is in trouble, no doubt of it. Primary
cause is the most excessive and gratuitous media assault on a
presidential candidate in recent times. . . Dean failed to accept
the fact that before you can get elected by the people you have
to be selected by the crowd in charge. You don't just run for
president in the Democratic Party (unless you're a Sharpton or
Kucincich doomed from the start); you ask permission nicely just
like Clinton did. Show the elite that you want to come to Washington
to serve them, not lead others. . . . It's bad enough when a
Georgia peanut farmer like Carter tries it, but Dean came out
of the establishment himself so his crime was worse: betrayal
rather than naiveté. And he paid the price.
It's not political. Washington is
a place where more things are done illegally or under the table
than just about anywhere in the world. Where your laws are made
- and broken - as Mark Russell used to say. And it's the world's
most powerful private club. If you want to get ahead here the
first thing you've got to do is shut your mouth. And show you
respect the people who really run the place. Dean didn't do that.
Dean had some other problems, though.
The exit polls suggest that he had far narrower appeal than it
originally appeared. He had the young and the very liberal but
these were the only groups squarely in his camp. They were out
there and being counted early. What wasn't being counted were
the undecideds and the initially apathetic. Part of the really
bad news for Dean is that he was unable to expand his core constituency.
Finally, not since Muskie cried
in New Hampshire and Dukakis was photographed with his ears sticking
out under a tank helmet has a candidate so facilely hurt himself
as Dean did with his election night hysterics. One got the feeling
that the doctor might have tried to dope himself up on tranquilizers
but somehow picked the wrong bottle.
THE CASE AGAINST HOWARD DEAN FROM
KEITH ROSENTHAL, INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST
REVIEW - With more than a year remaining before the presidential
election of 2004, the former Vermont governor, Howard Dean, has
stolen national attention for his criticisms of the recent unilateral
war on Iraq by confidently arguing on the campaign trail: "We're
gonna' beat George Bush!"
He has called for universal health
care, environmental protection, the shredding of the "Bush
Doctrine" of preemptive attack, a reversal of the tax cuts
and has even called out the leadership of the Democratic Party
for cowering before Bush's right-wing onslaught.
But Dean has done much more than
simply grab the attention of the national media. He also has
many antiwar activists, progressives and former Ralph Nader voters
excited about his campaign. Gary Younge described Dean in the
Guardian as "the great red hope." In the Nation, Katha
Pollit recently wrote, "My fingers itch to write Dean another
check." She continued, "Howard Dean is Ralph Nader's
gift to the Democratic Party." . . .
Though he has been dubbed a "raging
liberal" by admirers and critics alike, Howard Dean governed
Vermont strictly within the framework of the conservative Democratic
Leadership Council. . . Back in February 2003, Dean candidly
admitted to Salon magazine that if he were to win the nomination
of his party he would "probably dispense with some of the
more rhetorical flourishes. One time I said the Supreme Court
is so far right you couldn't see it anymore. Next summer I won't
be talking like that. It's true and I'm not ashamed to have said
it, but it doesn't sound very presidential."
But such political maneuvering is
nothing new for Dean. Upon becoming governor of Vermont in 1991,
after the sudden death of then-Republican Governor Richard Snelling,
Dean made a sharp turn to the right and pursued that course ever
since. In his 11 years as governor, Dean would shift rightward
on one position after another, all the while claiming to be concerned
for the needy and less-fortunate, and disappointing all who thought
they were getting someone who would govern from the liberal end
of the political spectrum.
Dean inherited a massive deficit
in the state budget from Snelling. Refusing to raise taxes on
wealthier Vermonters (and rendering the tax system more regressive
than previously), Dean declared in his first State of the State
address that it would be his mission to balance the state budget
with some "tough" cuts. Even though Vermont has no
law requiring a balanced budget, Dean promised, "The pain
for Vermonters will be real."
Dean slashed millions of dollars
from all sorts of social programs, from prescription drug benefits
for Medicare recipients and heating assistance for poorer Vermonters
to housing assistance funds. In defending his cuts to social
programs, Dean said, "I don't think I have to shy away from
that just because I'm supposed to be a liberal Democrat."
Throughout the 1990s, Dean's cuts
in state aid to education ($6 million), retirement funds for
teachers and state employees ($7 million), health care ($4 million),
welfare programs earmarked for the aged, blind and disabled ($2
million), Medicaid benefits ($1.2 million) and more, amounted
to roughly $30 million. Dean claimed that the cuts were necessary
because the state had no money and was burdened by a $60 million
WASHINGTON'S WAR AGAINST
The Washington establishment woke
up this morning with evidence that the combined Democon and elite
media assault on Howard Dean might be paying off. The Washington
Post led off with its most recent poll that shows Dean falling
18 points behind Bush in a match-up.
In fact, while Dean only dropped
one point between October and December, a match-up with an unnamed
Democrat saw a 6 point drop for the same period. Bush gained
three points in each contest. Further, the Post strangely only
ran Dean against Bush. But thanks to two other polls we know
that both Clark and Dean would have a hard time against Bush
with the gap between Clark and Dean running from 1 to seven points,
hardly enough to justify the sort of anti-Dean commentating rampant
in the capital these days.
Furthermore, most of the polling
was done during a period when Dean was being heavily criticized
for saying that the capture of Saddam had not made us safer,
but before the president's orange terror alert proved his point.
In truth, no one in the Democratic
Party is showing enough strength against Bush (including Hillary
THREE MEDIA MYTHS ABOUT
1. He is too weak a candidate
to run against George Bush.
Maybe he is, but the Democrats have
not come up with anyone better. For example, in the five most
recent polls, Bush beats Dean by and average of 9.6 points. Bush
beats Clark, presumably the best alternative the Washington establishment
can produce, by 7.2 points, a statistically insignificant difference.
Hillary Clinton's five poll moving average, by the way, is 7.6
2. Dean is too weak among blacks.
The Washington Post wrote recently,
"Dean has been dogged by questions of whether the former
leader of an overwhelmingly white state would be able to attract
African American supporters." Well, the answer is right
outside the Post's front door where not only have a significant
number of black city council members endorsed Dean but he won
61% in a straw vote at a meeting of the Ward 8 Democrats, in
the poorest and blackest part of the city. And this at a contentious
session where a black ward official attacked a lonely white member
as "poor white trash." DC will have its primary in
January and while the non-binding results will probably have
little impact on elite white journalists who will continue to
wonder whether the former leader of an overwhelmingly white state
will be able to attract African American supporters, black voters
elsewhere are likely to take note of DC's choice.
3. Dean can't win in the south
Again, while the Democrats are in
trouble throughout the south - all are beaten by 30 or more points
in Alabama - Dean again does well in the primary match-ups. He
is currently ahead, if not by much, in Florida, Texas and Virginia.
He is far ahead in DC and tied for first in Alabama. In Georgia,
Dean comes in fourth, but only three points behind the first
placed Clark. In North Carolina he is a distant second to Edwards
and in South Carolina Edwards and Dean are essentially tied.
In one of the few southern match-ups against Bush, Dean does
one point better than Clark in Florida, which is to say he loses
by a changeable 7 points.
This is a useful exercise in how
badly the corporatized media reports political campaigns, let
alone other things. The reasons for this include:
- The extraordinary length of time
it takes national reporters to overcome their presumptions in
the face of contrary facts.
- A bias towards certain candidates
based on Washington dominant political and cultural values.
- An inability to deal with something
new, which is, after all, three quarters of the word 'news.'
- A narrow, clichéd view
of American politics and history.
- A disdain for hard facts such
as numbers in comparison, say, to sound bites acquired over a
beer in New Hampshire.
DEAN LEFT EPISCOPAL CHURCH OVER
ALEX BEAM, BOSTON
GLOBE - One could trace the downturn in Senator John Kerry's
presidential fortunes back to the revelation that, unbeknownst
to him, his paternal grandparents were Jewish, or God's Chosen
People. Yet things have gone much better for Kerry's rival, Howard
Dean, ever since he let slip that he is no longer one of God's
Frozen People, i.e. Episcopalian. The exchange in which Dean
abjured the One True Faith, as we lapsed Episcopalians like to
call it, took place this fall in an interview with ABC's George
Stephanopoulos. Dean said he was raised Episcopalian but left
the church "because I had a big fight with a local Episcopal
church about 25 years ago over the bike path. . . ."
"Over the bike
path?" an incredulous Stephanopoulos asked.
"We were trying
to get the bike path built," Dean answered. "They had
control of a mile and a half of railroad bed, and they decided
they would pursue a property-right suit to refuse to allow the
bike path to be developed."
MUCH FOR THE INSIDERS NOT LIKING DEAN
myth down the drain]
MARK Z. BARABAK,
LA TIMES - Howard Dean has emerged as the leading presidential
pick among Democratic Party leaders, with more than twice the
support of his closest rivals, according to a new Los Angeles
Times Poll. . . Dean was favored by 32% of the Democratic leaders
surveyed, followed by Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri at
15% and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts at 14%. Retired Army
Gen. Wesley K. Clark had 7% support, Sen. John Edwards of North
Carolina 5%, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut 3%, and former
Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois 1%. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich
of Ohio and the Rev. Al Sharpton each had less than 1% backing.
The survey began
Dec. 4 and ended Thursday. On Monday, word surfaced that former
Vice President Al Gore would endorse Dean the next day. The nod
from Gore appears to have benefited Dean among these party insiders.
Twenty-nine percent of DNC members surveyed before the endorsement
said they backed Dean. Of the members surveyed after Gore's announcement,
44% favored Dean. . .
Most of the declared
candidates enjoy high approval ratings from DNC members, with
favorable ratings of 80% or more. Lieberman - the most conservative
of the Democrats running - and Moseley Braun were seen somewhat
less favorably, with approval from about two-thirds of those
interviewed. Kucinich received mixed reviews, with 49% of those
surveyed viewing him positively and 38% negatively. . .
Thirty percent of
DNC members said Dean would be the most vigorous nominee the
party could put up in 2004, while 14% cited Clark. Gephardt and
Kerry were named by 13% each. A year ago, 2% chose Dean.
A CONSERVATIVE VIEW OF HOW DEAN
WILLIAM KRISTOL - Could Dean really
win? Unfortunately, yes. The Democratic presidential candidate
has, alas, won the popular presidential vote three times in a
row - twice, admittedly, under the guidance of the skilled Bill
Clinton, but most recently with the hapless Al Gore at the helm.
And demographic trends (particularly the growth in Hispanic voters)
tend to favor the Democrats going into 2004. . .
Bush is also likely to be the first
president since Herbert Hoover under whom there will have been
no net job creation, and the first since Lyndon Johnson whose
core justification for sending U.S. soldiers to war could be
widely (if unfairly) judged to have been misleading.
And President Bush will be running
for reelection after a two-year period in which his party has
controlled both houses of Congress. The last two times the American
people confronted a president and a Congress controlled by the
same party were in 1980 and 1994. The voters decided in both
cases to restore what they have consistently preferred for the
last two generations: divided government. . .
Dean has run a terrific primary
campaign, the most impressive since Carter in 1976. It's true
that, unlike Carter (and Clinton), Dean is a Northeastern liberal.
But he's no Dukakis. Does anyone expect Dean to be a patsy for
a Bush assault, as the Massachusetts governor was?
And how liberal is Dean anyway?
He governed as a centrist in Vermont, and will certainly pivot
to the center the moment he has the nomination. And one underestimates,
at this point when we are all caught up in the primary season,
how much of an opportunity the party's nominee has to define
or redefine himself once he gets the nomination.
HOWARD DEAN'S MADISON AVENUE CHILDHOOD
DEAN TO GO AFTER BIG MEDIA
[Dean on the Chris Matthews show
on General Electric-owned MSNBC]
MATTHEWS: Well, would you break
DEAN: I can't - you...
MATTHEWS: GE just buys Universal.
Would you do something there about that? Would you stop that
DEAN: You can't say - you can't
ask me right now and get an answer, would I break up X corp...
MATTHEWS: We've got to do it now,
because now is the only chance we can ask you, because, once
you are in, we have got to live with you.
MATTHEWS: So, if you are going to
do it, you have got to tell us now.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to break
up the giant media enterprises in this country?
DEAN: Yes, we're going to break
up giant media enterprises. That doesn't mean we're going to
break up all of GE. What we're going to do is say that media
enterprises can't be as big as they are today. I don't think
we actually have to break them up, which Teddy Roosevelt had
to do with the leftovers from the McKinley administration.
Dean explained how "11 companies
in this country control 90 percent of what ordinary people are
able to read and watch on their television. That's wrong. We
need to have a wide variety of opinions in every community. We
don't have that because of Michael Powell and what George Bush
has tried to do to the FCC."
"Would you break up Fox?"
MATTHEWS: I'm serious.
DEAN: I'm keeping a...
MATTHEWS: Would you break it up?
Rupert Murdoch has "The Weekly Standard." It has got
a lot of other interests. It has got "The New York Post."
Would you break it up?
DEAN: On ideological grounds, absolutely
MATTHEWS: No, seriously. As a public
policy, would you bring industrial policy to bear and break up
these conglomerations of power?
DEAN: I don't want to answer whether
I would break up Fox or not, because, obviously
MATTHEWS: Well, how about large
DEAN: Let me -- yes, let me get...
DEAN: The answer to that is yes.
I would say that there is too much
penetration by single corporations in media markets all over
this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are
only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont
where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read
and ripped from the AP.
MATTHEWS: So what are you going
to do about it? You're going to be president of the United States,
what are you going to do?
DEAN: What I'm going to do is appoint
people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information
from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one.
DEAN'S NEW SOUTHERN STRATEGY
REP. JESSE L. JACKSON JR, AFRO-AMERICAN
- Historically, the Confederate flag is a symbol of the Democratic
Party. Today, however, Republicans can fly and wave it, but Democrats
can't talk about it, and current Democrats don't know how to
handle it. As a result, the symbol Howard Dean used got in the
way of his substance, but his substance was on point. And the
point was southern whites and blacks together must focus on their
common economic needs, jobs, good schools, affordable health
care. Howard Dean has a new Democratic southern strategy. Democrats
know the divide in the South is race. Republicans have exploited
it. Democrats have evaded it. Every Democrat has known since
the civil rights movement that the party was becoming less competitive
in the South because of race. Republicans have successfully exploited
race (in proportion to black voting strength) since Richard Nixon's
"southern strategy" of 1968 by, among other things,
using racial code words: Nixon's "law and order," Reagan's
"states' rights" and "welfare queen" and
the first George Bush's "Willie Horton."
Republicans deliberately blur the
distinction between social and economic conservatism. Economically,
when compared to other U.S. regions, the South has disproportionately
high unemployment, unfair taxes, poverty, illiteracy, poor schools
and inadequate health care and housing - for both whites and
blacks. . . Disappointingly, Democrats over several decades,
rather than campaigning around common economic needs of southern
whites and blacks, have mostly imitated Republicans on social
and cultural issues, and failed to challenge around economic
issues. White Democrats, South and North, want and need the black
vote to win, but then avoid meeting black economic and political
expectations that accompany their vote.
If Howard Dean wins the nomination
around an economic agenda, and can combat the certain Republican
tactic of diversion - using social issues openly, and race more
subtly, to sublimate economic concerns - then Democrats may once
again be able to win in the South and pursue a progressive economic
agenda for the benefit of all Americans. That's Howard Dean's
approach and his challenge.
A RETROACTIVE MANIFESTO FOR THE
AETHER - A draft of an idea inspired
by Rem Koolhaas's remarkable pseudo-history of Manhattan called
Delirious New York. . . In his book, Koolhaas pretends that Manhattan
was designed according to a theory of the modern city. The imagined
manifesto gives Koolhaas a way to sketch a portrait of Manhattan
as it actually exists, to take it seriously as manifestation
of human creativity. His book is a just-so story, a fabricated
history that explicates real forces. Here, I've offered a Retroactive
Manifesto of the Dean Campaign. These are the rules that might
have been posted on the wall of campaign manager Joe Trippi's
office, if there were such a list of rules. I am looking for
examples and counter-examples - confirmation and correction.
Are these really the principles that underlay the architecture
of the campaign? Are there concrete examples you can suggest?
Is something here plainly wrong? Hack away. . .
The Dean campaign is a network rather
than an army - and that's its strength. But it's also a stupid
network, and that's its other strength. "Stupid" is
used in the technical sense defined by David S. Isenberg in his
classic telephony paper, "The Rise of the Stupid Network."
In this paper Isenberg advanced the principle that under conditions
of uncertainty a network should not be optimized for some limited
set of uses presumed to be definitive. Instead, the network should
be as simple as possible, with advanced functionality (and intelligence)
moved out to the ends of the network - to the users. . .
I got Isenberg on the phone today
and talked to him about the Dean campaign as an implementation
of a stupid network. Here's a little of what he said:
"I'm struck by how different
that is from the Karl Rove point of view, where reporters are
directed to cover the four or five stories they've selected -
go to the aircraft carrier, set up the cameras right here so
Bush's face looks like another bust on Mount Rushmore, or whatever.
For the first time in the information age we have tools appropriate
for a real grass roots, bottom up campaign.
"In the old telephone company,
central planning was needed before the network could grow. You
had to manage the scaling from the top down. This worked as long
as growth was predictable. But the Internet was not predicted.
It grew from the bottom, from interpersonal agreements among
sysadmins at the edges, from a collection of networks, including
small ISPs that were basically modem farms in somebody's garage.
Having a network without a strong center allows massive scalability
without central planning.
"If you have a Karl Rove, you
know exactly where events will happen, who has to be there. But
if you are a Howard Dean, and you are willing to let things happen
from the bottom up, you can scale without doing all that planning."
TEN QUESTIONS FOR HOWARD DEAN
VERMONT INDEPENDENT MEDIA - Why
did you support sending Vermont's nuclear waste to the poor,
mostly Hispanic town of Sierra Blanca, Texas, 16 miles from the
Mexican border -- a plan described as "blatant environmental
racism" by Paul Wellstone?
2. Why did the Dean administration
increase funding for Vermont's state colleges by only 7% while
you increased funding for prisons by 150%?
3. Why did IBM, the leading polluter
in Vermont, receive your Environmental Achievement Award nine
4. What did you mean when you said,
"I've had 40 or 45 private meetings with IBM since I've
been governor. And IBM has gotten pretty much everything they've
6. Why did you wait for the courts
and legislature to bring about the civil union bill before you
supported it? Why did you sign the bill in private when you finally
did sign it?
7. Why do you oppose the Israeli
Labor Party candidate for prime minister Amram Mitzna's call
for unconditional peace talks with the Palestinians?
8. While you acknowledge that you
"haven't condemned Congress for passing the Patriot Act,"
Bernie Sanders from your own state of Vermont is leading efforts
in Congress to overturn the act. Why are you not supporting Bernie
Sanders' efforts and condemning Congress for its attack on civil
9. How do you respond to Annette
Smith of Vermonters of a Clean Environment who says: "Dean's
attempt to run for president as an environmentalist is nothing
but a fraud. He's destroyed the Agency of Natural Resources,
he's refused to meet with environmentalists while constantly
meeting with developers, and he's made the permitting process
one, big dysfunctional joke. EP under Governor Dean meant Expedite
Permits, not Environmental Protection"?
10. Since you pride yourself on
your "fiscal responsibility" who do you refuse to even
consider any decreases in the bloated Pentagon budget?
PICKUPS FOR DEAN
During the long years of southern
segregation, the white establishment managed to convince poor
whites that it was blacks rather than itself that posed the biggest
threat. This was not only immoral, it was a con, and a miserably
Only occasionally was the myth challenged,
as when Earl Long went after black votes while holding onto his
low income white constituency. When Long was elected in 1948
there were only 7,000 black voters in Louisiana. By the time
he left office a decade later, there were 110,000.
It was not that Governor Long was
any moral model. His language, for example, would have shocked
today's white and black liberals. What he did do, and quite well,
was to put together people who many at the top didn't want together.
And at a time when the likes of Lyndon Johnson and William Fulbright
were carefully avoiding the race issue, Long took on the White
I was reminded of this the other
day when Howard Dean made his comment about wanting to get the
votes of people who drove pickups with confederate flag stickers.
He was immediately excoriated by Kerry and Gephardt but what
he was doing was simply reaching out to a constituency that Democratic
liberals have too long dissed, the less successful white male.
Uncle Earl would have been pleased.
By any traditional Democratic standards,
this constituency should be a natural. After all, what more dramatically
illustrates the failure of two decades of corporatist economics
than how far these white males have been left behind? Yet because
some of them still cling to the myths the southern white establishment
taught their daddies and their granddaddies, the likes of Gephardt
and Kerry don't think they qualify as Democratic voters.
In fact, the best way to change
people's minds about matters such as ethnic relations is to put
them in situations that challenge their presumptions. Like joining
a multicultural political coalition that works. It's change produced
by shared experience rather than moral by revelation.
Martin Luther King understood this
as he admonished his aides to include in their dreams the hope
that their present opponents would become their future friends.
And he realized that rules of correct behavior were insufficient:
"Something must happen so as
to touch the hearts and souls of men that they will come together,
not because the law says it, but because it is natural and right."
This doesn't happen logically, it
doesn't come all at once, and it doesn't come with pretty words.
Tom Lowe of the Jackson
Progressive voted a couple of years ago in favor of a new
Mississippi flag without the confederate symbolism. But in retrospect,
he wrote later, he realized that the voters' rejection of the
change was a honest reflection of their state of mind: "Perhaps
a time will come when we have truly put aside our nasty streak
of racism. When that time arrives, maybe we will choose to replace
the flag with something more representative of our ideals. On
the other hand, when we reach that point, we may no longer care
about the symbolism of the Confederate battle flag. Or perhaps
we will keep it for another reason: to make those of us that
are white humble by reminding us of our less than honorable past."
Or perhaps do what the whites in
the Southern Student Organizing Committee did at the beginning
of the civil rights movement: seize the old symbol for a new
purpose. The SSOC logo showed a black and white hand firmly clasped
across a confederate flag. It is, within my extensive button
collection, a favorite because it illustrates how symbols can
be transformed and used for better purposes. Yes, the confederate
flag is still there, but firmly in the background, reminding
one of how hard won were the clasped hands in front.
The decline of liberalism has been
accelerated by the growing number of American subcultures deemed
unworthy by its advocates: gun owners, church goers, pickup drivers
with confederate flag stickers. Yet the gun owner could be an
important ally for civil liberties, the churchgoer a voice for
political integrity, the pickup driver a supporter of national
We'll never know until we try. Dean,
coming off some successful approaches to black voters, has now
turned to another group the establishment, including its liberal
branch, doesn't really give much of damn about: the struggling
white male. These two groups are primarily antagonistic because
they have been taught to see life that way by those who really
don't want them getting along. Instead of inveighing in the best
liberal fashion against all stereotypes save one's own, Dean
is mixing things up a bit. A Dean bumper sticker next to a confederate
flag on a pickup may not be utopia, but it would be sure sign
of positive change which, these days, would be a pretty big change
in itself. -
PICKUPS FOR DEAN CONT'D,
& SO FORTH
THE CONTINUED controversy over confederate
flags on pickup trucks is a reminder that one of the functions
of political campaigns is to take our minds off our problems.
It is especially fun when we can argue about symbolism rather
than reality because that way no one can actually keep score.
It does get confusing, though. After
introducing a new idea about whom the Democratic Party should
approach, Howard Dean was excoriated by Al Sharpton who, while
entertaining and often right, falls somewhat short as a mentor
of morality. Sharpton was joined by some white southerners who,
in attacking Dean's stereotype, implicitly projected their own
- that of a south in which all the bad stuff has passed. Funny
that Trent Lott never got the word.
Then, in an act of iatrogenic politics,
Dr. Dean wounded himself further by describing as 'loathsome'
the symbol of his proposed new constituency. That's not the best
way to reach out and touch someone.
Besides, it also raises the question
of whether the Democrats' Jefferson Day dinners should be cancelled
since their namesake also had some pretty loathsome view on ethnicity.
The stereotype business can be tricky.
Not only did some southern pickup drivers complain, but Claude
Henry Sinclair Jr., commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans
camp in Lancaster, SC, told the Washington Post that he saw yet
another kind of stereotype: "I don't have a pickup truck."
To be sure, Dean might have done
better if he had used (as one of our readers suggested) the term
'NASCAR dads,' but in fact, politics uses stereotypes all the
time. And a campaign meeting at which someone asks, "How
do we get to the Jews?" has quite a different import than
the same question asked at a KKK meeting.
From the day in the 1960s when Marion
Barry walked into my apartment explicitly looking for a white
press aide, I have felt more at home dealing with such matters
openly rather than having them whitewashed with liberal euphemisms.
The irony is that despite crude
terminology, politics is one of the few places where you actually
see people working voluntarily across ethnic and class lines
for a common goal. When you hear people like Edwards and Sharpton
slamming Dean for using political slang in public, you are seeing
bad acting and not much else.
It is also interesting to note,
as William Saletan does in Slate, that Dean received quite a
different reception before he was the frontrunner. Here's what
he told the Democratic National Committee last February:
"I intend to talk about race
during this election in the South. The Republicans have been
talking about it since 1968 in order to divide us, and I'm going
to bring us together. Because you know what? White folks in the
South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals on
the back ought to be voting with us because their kids don't
have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools
Writes Saletan: "I have that
speech on videotape. I'm looking at it right now. As Dean delivers
the line about Confederate flags, the whole front section of
the audience stands and applauds. It's a pretty white crowd,
but in slow-motion playback, I can make out three black people
in the crowd and two more on the dais, including DNC Vice Chair
Lottie Shackelford. Every one of them is standing and applauding.
As Dean finishes his speech, a dozen more black spectators rise
to join in an ovation. They show no doubt or unease about what
The Dean controversy is driven by
several factors. One is the growing liberal preference for proper
language and symbolism over proper policy. Thus confederate flags
soar above such other possible issues as the drug war with its
disastrous effect on young black males, discrimination in housing
and public transportation, and the lack of blacks in the U.S.
Senate. Further, while liberals are happy to stigmatize certain
stereotypes, they are enthralled with others, such as the self-serving
suggestion that they represent a new class of "cultural
creatives" saving the American city. And from whom, implicitly,
are they saving the American city? From the blacks, latinos and
poor forced out to make way for their creativity.
Another factor has far deeper roots:
our fear of public discussion of class issues. Although this
has repeatedly been noted by both black and white observers,
it has little effect on our politics or the media, both of which
project the myth that ethnic conflict occurs independent of economic
One who understood otherwise was
the black writer, Jean Toomer - who once described America as
"so voluble in acclamation of the democratic ideal, so reticent
in applying what it professes." Writing in 1919, Toomer
said, "It is generally established that the causes of race
prejudice may primarily be found in the economic structure that
compels one worker to compete against another and that furthermore
renders it advantageous for the exploiting classes to inculcate,
foster, and aggravate that competition."
Dean's real sin was that he got
too close to that topic - SAM SMITH
CAN DEAN ESCAPE THE STARBUCKS
RONALD BROWNSTEIN, LA TIMES - Can
Howard Dean escape the Starbucks ghetto? New polls in Iowa and
New Hampshire, the critical first two states in the Democratic
presidential race, show the former Vermont governor dominating
among voters with a college degree - the sort of people more
likely to stop at Starbucks than a doughnut shop in the morning.
But in both states he is showing much less strength among voters
who did not graduate from college.
. . . In Iowa, Dean led Rep. Richard
A. Gephardt of Missouri among college-educated voters 36% to
15%, according to the survey, conducted by veteran Democratic
pollster Stanley B. Greenberg. Among college-educated voters
in New Hampshire, Dean crushed Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts
45% to 19%, the survey found.
. . . Among voters without a college
degree, the story was very different. In Iowa, among voters with
a high school degree or less, Gephardt led Dean by 42% to 16%;
in New Hampshire, those voters preferred Kerry over Dean 29%
to 23%. Voters with some college, but not a degree, narrowly
preferred Gephardt in Iowa and Dean in New Hampshire.
. . . Dean's strength among better-educated
voters fits a long-standing tradition. Since the 1960s, these
Democrats have favored candidates who position themselves as
reform-minded outsiders, scorn politics as usual and embrace
liberal positions on social issues and foreign policy. That lineage
runs from Eugene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam War crusade against
Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 to George S. McGovern in 1972, and
to Hart, Tsongas and Bradley.
HOWARD DEAN'S MEDICARE PROBLEM
ROBIN TONER, NY TIMES - Back in
1995, when a new Republican-controlled Congress was in a pitched
ideological battle with the Democrats over the budget, Howard
Dean was an iconoclastic, budget-balancing governor of Vermont
and chairman of the National Governors Association, willing -
even eager - to challenge party orthodoxy on spending. Dr. Dean
said, according to news reports at the time, that he "fully
subscribed" to the idea of substantially reducing the growth
rate in Medicare spending and he praised that element of a Senate
Republican budget plan that was vehemently opposed by Democrats
on Capitol Hill. He argued that "we ought to put Social
Security back on the table" in an effort to balance the
federal budget, and he suggested that Congress consider raising
the retirement age. . .
Dr. Dean's opponents, who have researched
his past, assert that the record shows Dr. Dean did not stand
with his party when it counted on an issue of critical importance
to older voters, who loom large in early primary and caucus states
like Iowa. Dr. Dean has scrambled to explain. . .
Dr. Dean's allies argue that his
views were common among Democratic deficit hawks in the mid-1990's,
and among Democrats who worried about the long-term solvency
of Medicare and Social Security. As one aide put it, Dr. Dean
"was in the mainstream of the moderate wing of the Democratic
Party." Moreover, Dr. Dean maintains that his views on reining
in Medicare spending were eventually embraced by Mr. Clinton
and codified in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.
BUILD YOUR OWN DEAN SITE
[An example of why the Dean campaign
is having such luck.]
DEAN FOR AMERICA - How to get started
with your Dean Community Site What do these kits do? These kits
create fully featured campaign web community sites, such as Upper
Valley for Dean and Seniors for Dean and Connecticut for Dean.
These kits provide their members with powerful web tools for
organizing their People-Powered-Howard campaigns.
These communities provide their
users with completely customizable websites that feature searchable
forums, blogs, picture galleries, book creation tools, endorsement
letter servers, and Get Local event calendars. These kits are
used to organize grassroots campaigners for outreach and action,
and to create engaging and interactive public websites.
Where did this come from? These
kits are based on a wonderful piece of open-source software called
Drupal. The Drupal code base was customized by the Dean Space
all-volunteer development community. The graphics were created
by the Dean gSquad, another volunteer group. It's been a labor
GEPHARDT SCORES DIRECT HIT ON DEAN, STANCES
ON MEDICARE, SOCIAL SECURITY EXPOSED
ON CUTTING MEDICARE
"To slash the [Medicare] program
to balance the budget... is not just a threat to the seniors,
families, hospitals and research institutions that depend on
it, it is a violation of a sacred trust."
[Gephardt letter to the
Editor, Washington Post, 9/25/95]
"Dean said Congress should
be willing to cut or slow growth in those programs [Social Security
and Medicare]... 'We just would like to see some similar kind
of backbone by the new leadership in Congress when it comes to
Medicare, when it comes to Social Security and when it comes
ON 1995 REPUBLICAN MEDICARE CUTS
"Gephardt was visibly emotional
as he addressed area hospital administrators and reporters in
yet another attack on Republican plans to trim the growth of
Medicare and Medicaid. A man known for scripted speeches, Gephardt
ranted and raved. . . The man known as Mr. Compromise, by political
friend and foe, said he wasn't going to back off from this fight."
[St Louis Post Dispatch,
"...I rise today with sadness
and almost disbelief of what I am afraid is about to happen to
what I believe to be the most important program, the most important
help that the people of our country have enjoyed now for over
30 years. I say to the members that this is the kind of vote
that comes once in a generation, maybe once in a career, about
the very future of one of the most important efforts that our
country has ever made."
[Gephardt speech before
vote on Medicare cuts, Congressional Record, 10/19/95]
"[Dean] applauded the efforts
of Senate Budget Committee chairman Pete Domenici, R-Nev., who
presented his own balanced budget plan last week... Dean also
said he could defend Domenici's approach to reducing Medicare
costs. He said he supported more managed care for Medicare recipients
and requiring some Medicare recipients to pay a greater share
of the cost of their medical services... "'I fully subscribe
to the notion that we should reduce the Medicare growth rate
from 10 percent to 7 percent, or less if possible,' Dean said."
[Montpelier Times Argus,
The cuts Dean described - reducing
the rate of growth to 7 percent - was exactly what Newt Gingrich's
budget proposed. This would cut at between $256 and $282 billion
from Medicare: "Under the House and Senate plans, the annual
rate of growth of Medicare spending would be cut from 10 percent
to 7 percent... The Republicans say these changes would trim
as much as $ 282 billion from Medicare.
[Dallas Morning News,
ON THE VALUE OF MEDICARE
"Medicare 'is the best program
this country's ever put forward for our people,' Gephardt said..."
[San Francisco Chronicle,
"I think it's one of the worst
federal programs ever..."
[Dean in San Francisco
"[Medicare is] one of the worst
things that ever happened... a bureaucratic disaster..."
[Dean in AP, 8/3/93]
ON CUTTING SOCIAL SECURITY TO
BALANCE THE BUDGET
"In March, Rep. Gephardt single-handedly
bullied President Clinton into running from a potential agreement
to reform cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security payments
and other government benefits."
"I also think that we ought
to put Social Security back on the table and defense. If you
take defense and Social Security off the table, what you've essentially
said, 'We're not going to cut any of the controversial things
at the federal level, despite our rhetoric about being courageous
in a new day in the American Congress..."
[Dean on "This Week
with David Brinkley," 1/29/95]
"The way to balance the budget,
Dean said, is for Congress to cut Social Security, move the retirement
age to 70, cut defense, Medicare and veterans pensions, while
the states cut almost everything else. "It would be tough
but we could do it," he said."
[New Orleans Times-Picayune,
ON RAISING THE SOCIAL SECURITY
RETIREMENT AGE, TO 70
"Host: Do you go along with
that position now enunciated by both Dick Armey and George W.
Bush, that the country should go ahead and look at the possibility
of raising that retirement age?"
"Gephardt: I don't think it's
worthy of consideration."
[Gephardt on CNN "Late
"I absolutely agree we need
to reduce the - I mean, to increase the retirement age. There
will be cuts and losses of some benefits, but I believe that
Senator Packwood [R-Oregon] is on exactly the right track, and
we need to deal with the Social Security retirement age..."
[Dean on CNN's Crossfire,
ON SENIOR CITIZENS ADVOCATING
FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
"House Minority Leader Richard
A. Gephardt and Health Secretary Donna Shalala took their Medicare
campaign to Florida on Tuesday, pleading with older people to
pressure Congress to reject the Republicans' proposed changes.
'This fight is your fight,' Gephardt, D-Mo., told an enthusiastic
crowd of about 800 elderly voters. 'You need to speak out,' he
said, urging the audience to pepper Washington with calls and
letters before the House votes on the issue next week. 'You should
be part of this debate,' he said. 'Write them. Call them. Tell
them what you think.'"
[St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
'are terrified of (lobbyists for elderly Americans), and I think
we all better stop being terrified,' Democratic Gov. Howard Dean
of Vermont, the current chairman of the NGA... said in an interview...
'I think it's perfectly ludicrous.'
DEAN TURNS HAWK ON IRAQ
FRED HIATT, WASHINGTON POST - It's
true that he opposed the war in Iraq, [Dean] says, but he supported
the 1991 Gulf War and the Bush campaign against the Taliban in
Afghanistan. More interesting, at a time when many politicians
are shuddering at President Bush's ambitions to remake the Middle
East - conservatives, because they are skeptical of such grand
reshaping ambitions; liberals, because they see resources being
diverted from social causes at home - Dean sounds if anything
more committed than Condoleezza Rice to bringing democracy to
"Now that we're there, we're
stuck," he said. Bush took an "enormous risk"
that through war the United States could replace Saddam Hussein
and the "small danger" he presented to the United States
with something better and safer. The gamble was "foolish"
and "wrong." But whoever will be elected in 2004 has
to live with it. "We have no choice. It's a matter of national
security. If we leave and we don't get a democracy in Iraq, the
result is very significant danger to the United States."
And "bringing democracy to
Iraq is not a two-year proposition. Having elections alone doesn't
guarantee democracy. You've got to have institutions and the
rule of law, and in a country that hasn't had that in 3,000 years,
it's unlikely to suddenly develop by having elections and getting
the heck out." Dean would impose a "hybrid" constitution,
"American with Iraqi, Arab characteristics. Iraqis have
to play a major role in drafting this, but the Americans have
to have the final say." Women's rights must be guaranteed
at all levels.
Dean is almost as sweeping about
Afghanistan, where "losing the peace is not an option"
and "pulling out early would be a disaster." Five times
the current level of troops are needed, he said. "Imagine
making deals with warlords to promote democracy. What are these