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January 20, 2004

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Remember many months ago when Dean announced the launch of his program to encourage community volunteer programs and local programs using the grassroots infrastructure he had? It's the reason I originally got on board the campaign. I can't even remember the name now, which goes to show how much he's been pushing it.

It seemed brilliant at the time. Prove your commitment to the local communities of America, where grassroots are born. Instead of your activists out pandering for votes, they're building parks. It makes concrete the rhetoric about being an outsider by bypassing political machinery and initiating programs directly. And it gives him a chance to be presidential well before he has a chance to be President.

Nothing came of it. I think the game of politics sucked him in and spit him out.

I still think it's Dean's to lose. Folks are overreacting to his YAAAARRRRGGGHHH! routine.

Dean Corps. Wasn't even his idea, volunteers just started doing it.

Being in first place is bad for campaigns. Almost always.

Nah, I'm unwilling to say he's doomed or not doomed. We do know he needs to finish strong in New Hampshire, right?

So, How can he do that? Two things:

First, explain to Dems why he has the best shot at beating Bush in the Fall; and

Second, explain to Dems why he will make a good President.

7 days of hard work and give it a shot. I predict we're all gonna be "stunned" 5 or 6 more times before the election is decided. So, his rebound certainly ain't beyond the realm.

Just my 2 cents.

I could kill him for that YAARRGGHHHH, because now I can't even take solace by watching the Daily Show.

I'm trying to visualize it. Was it like a pirate YAARRGGHHHH, or an ogre YAARRGGHHHH?

I don't know, and don't care to find out. Descriptions lean more towards pirate.

Hmm. Pirate is still hot for a bit more, I think. You know, perceptions of swagger could help a bit to counter the idea of Dean as being "prickly" or uptight.

The one problem I keep having from the descriptions I've seen is they keep bringing to mind John Belushi's "Raging Queen" pirate ship skit, which would be likely to offend just about everybody these days.

I myself have been known to do an Arhhh (I prefer the y-less variant, myself) on occasion, and Keira Knightly delivered several priceless ones on the commentary for Pirates of the Carribean, so I'm not throwing any stones on this one, Mateys.

"I don't know, and don't care to find out. Descriptions lean more towards pirate."

I just heard (and saw) it on "The O'Reilly Factor." I'd call it a cross between vintage Lou Ferrigno and "dealing with intense constipation." I haven't listened to Limbaugh lately, but I'd bet that within the week he'll have that little piece of audio spliced together with that old piece of Teddy Kennedy's from a few years back where he drifted into incoherent growling at a campaign rally, and will play it when the mood strikes him until the good Doctor has departed from politics--whether that is eight weeks or eight years from now.

Sorry to rain on parades, but that displayed temperament in the White House during wartime? I suspect Dems will pass, if not? The country certainly will.

(Of course I haven't been right yet about the Dems, so.......)

"and Keira Knightly delivered several priceless ones on the commentary for Pirates of the Carribean,"

Yes, but Keira Knightley would look good if she was yodeling while clog dancing and wearing a burlap sack--and she isn't running for President.

Personally, I prefer the evil laugh--suitable for forclosing on mortgages or tying screaming young women to railroad tracks while twirling a waxed handlebar moustache--it's very trendy in certain circles. :-)

Not much parade to rain on, spc67, but do read those excerpts I posted if you haven't.

The Fafblog seems downright political, and dare I say angry today. I wonder if the Medium Lobster was a Dean supporter after all?

http://fafblog.blogspot.com

Personally, I prefer the evil laugh--suitable for forclosing on mortgages or tying screaming young women to railroad tracks while twirling a waxed handlebar moustache

Scott, you are leaving yourself soooo open to feeding jokes based on Conservative stereotypes here. Even I'm embarrased to take a potshot on this one.

Where's Harley?

I find the entire 'temperament' argument extremely demoralizing. Not necessarily because I happen to approve of the guy that's the target, but because it's an egregious example of 'public discourse' removing itself so far from reality that we start to debate frequently and earnestly about things that don't exist, and wouldn't matter if they did. It's just bizarre. . the debate about the storylines and fantasized plot twists and the meta-debate about how 'this will play' absolutely drowns out any debate about real things that are really happening.

It means that a vast majority of the pundit class (and their rogue stepchildren in the blogosphere) are ready and eager to filter their world and opinions through their ideology. Disingenuous stories about enemies are guiltily (or enthusiastically, depending on how shameless you feel) trumpeted, because they're on the wrong team. True stories about friends are rationalized, because they're on the right team.

It's demoralizing because it means nothing in the real world actually matters. All that matters are image, happily controlled by a small, if fractious, group of opinion-setters, and loyalty.

So with that massive caveat out of the way, tell me spc67. Lay it all out for me. What are the concrete dire consequences to the nation if President Dean yarghs like a pirate during wartime? Don't hold back. Are the nukes on a yargh-trigger?

Katherine, yes. Dean Corps, thanks. Regardless of who thought of it, Dean should have latched onto it and put resources into it. It's exactly what his campaign stood for, and could still stand for.

The "YAARGH" wasn't the worst part. He started yelling like he was a member of the Mexican Wrestling League.

He yelled, "Viva New Mexico! Si Se Puede, Si Se Puede, Si Se Puede!"

That was the point when I began howling in laughter (and pain for Dean supporters).

I believe that Si Se Puede means "United, We Stand" and that phrase invokes the image of Cesar Chavez. I don't have a problem with a hispanic leader using this phrase, but it's the last thing that I expect from a resident of Vermont. It's literally like raising a fist in the air and yelling "Fight The Power".

This gaffe, or the confederate flag sticker nonsense, just doesn't sit well with me (a Dem from Texas). He just doesn't give me a reason to pick him over other Dems like Kerry or Edwards. I have to admit, though, that my family has followed Kerry for a long time (8+ years), and we're happy to see his campaign in gear again.

On the "two sides to every issue" theme, this from the 1/12/04 New Yorker article on HBD:
"Dean's body language and utterances as [the same-sex marriage issue] plays out will make for interesting spectator sport. His conduct in Vermont conveyed a much more mixed message than any television advertising [Karl] Rove might devise. Before the Vermont case was decided, he refused to discuss the issue with reporters. Then, with the ball in the legislature's hands, he said - referring expressly to same-sex marriage, even though civil unions are a different species - "Like everyone else, I'm uncomfortable with it, too." When the time came for Dean to sign the [Vermont civil unions] bill, it was walked from the House clerk's office to his office, where, behind a closed door, he unceremoniously did so. This infuriated the press and the left, but they eventually got over it."

The article quotes a Vermont lobbyist as saying "If I'm Karl Rove, civil unions is my Willie Horton ad."

The article calls Rove "Beezle-Bubba". Har.

I don't know if he's doomed -- I mean not like Karl Rove or anyone who doesn't agree with me re the Plame Affair is doomed: shout out to tomsyl! -- but wasn't money and organization supposed to be the unbeatable Iowa caucus combo? We'll see, I guess. But I'm betting money's headed in a slightly different direction this morning.

I find the entire 'temperament' argument extremely demoralizing. Not necessarily because I happen to approve of the guy that's the target, but because it's an egregious example of 'public discourse' removing itself so far from reality that we start to debate frequently and earnestly about things that don't exist, and wouldn't matter if they did.

Did anybody who supports Dean actually turn on the TV last night and watch his "speech"? Dean's-angry-temperment-as-media-narrative-fiction would fly if, and only if, Dean wasn't on television last night acting like a certifiable lunatic.

"acting like a certifiable lunatic"

Thanks for helping to prove my point. Have you ever interacted with a certifiable lunatic? Do you honestly believe Dean is suffering from a mental disorder?

No, you just like to ham up the libel because it fits your ideological predisposition. You could do everyone a favor and just post your loyalties as your message. . we could infer the rest.

"Did anybody who supports Dean actually turn on the TV last night and watch his "speech"? Dean's-angry-temperment-as-media-narrative-fiction would fly if, and only if, Dean wasn't on television last night acting like a certifiable lunatic."

The contrast with Gephardt's very classy speech that de facto ended his campaign didn't help, either. Gephardt went down in flames last night, but he handled it like a grownup.

Harley, your comments remind me of that wonderful FedEx commercial with the guys in the office who keep saying they're "Doomed. Doomed!" if their package doesn't get somewhere on time. You weren't by any chance involved with making (or even appearing in) that commercial, were you?


"Lay it all out for me. What are the concrete dire consequences to the nation if President Dean yarghs like a pirate during wartime? Don't hold back. Are the nukes on a yargh-trigger?"

Here's the problem with this premise. The words "President Dean". This version of Dean is not going to get a chance to install the "yargh-trigger".

The internet provides a microcosm of interests, but it doesn't always represent an accurate statistical model of the public at large. The majority of Americans are not internet users, and their attention span might be shorter than a lot of pundits/bloggists. There are a lot of other issues in the field, and I think that Dean's message on these other points has been displaced by his perceived anger and "off-the-cuff" remarks.

Last night's polls indicate that the binary yes/no choice about the Iraq Invasion is not the defining political issue. Dean's anger does resonate with the public, including myself. I love to see him stick it to Bush every time. But my view of Dean is similar to my response to other candidates like Sharpton and Kucinich.

I love Al's rhetoric on strengthening women's rights and race relations. I love Dennis' stance on marijuana decriminilization. But their stances on these issues don't translate into my personal endorsement.

I'm interested to see what Dean does next. Will we see a reserved, nuanced Dean 2.0 over the next month? Or do Dean/Trippi believe that their best bet is to increase the gamma rays, and allow Dean to "hulk out" and provide an alternative to the Kerry/Clark/Edwards love-in?

Sidereal, the only "ideology" I'm espousing here is the fact that Dean's behavior last night was completely and totally bizarre. Did you not see it? Are you from an alternate universe where people who behave that way are elected to be President of the United States?

Don't get all sanctimonious on me and pretend you've never called anyone "crazy" or a "lunatic" when confronted by bizarre behavior, irrespective of whether it would meet the technical DSM-V definition.

M. Scott Eiland has it right - the contrast between Dean and Gephardt (and I'll add Edwards as well) last night couldn't be more stark.

Here's a little remix of Dean's primal scream.

Sidereal,

Sorry you are demoralized. Your issue is with Howard Dean though. I've seen the speech several times. Are you disputing that he acted in a bizzare manner? If that's how Howard Dean reacts in times of stress? I certainly don't want him in any position of authority making any important decisions.

Contrast his behavior last night with Gephart's last night, or Al Gore after 2000, or Bush 41 in 1992, or Reagan after Iowa or New Hampshire in 1980 etc...

Here's a shorter version, scream only.

Oh, this is classy. This thread is the reason the blogosphere divides into liberal and conservative sites. You guys are coming back with the exact equivalent of "Bush is a moron!" or "Bush is a crazy religious zealot who will lead us to the apocalypse"! And I'm not sure more than 1/9 of you have read what I wrote. Sheesh. That's right, guys, drive the Dean supporters to the hills! Give them no quarter!

Jonas, sorry for the snipy bit earlier. Unearned. But I still disagree.

"M. Scott Eiland has it right - the contrast between Dean and Gephardt (and I'll add Edwards as well) last night couldn't be more stark."

Don't you think the fact that they're in radically different political positions had something to do with it?

Dean: outsider populist looking to energize and rejuvenate his organization going into NH.
Gephardt: Political veteran bowing out of political future.
Edwards: New media darling riding an outstanding Iowa result.

This seems pretty obvious to me.

spc:
"Contrast his behavior last night with Gephart's last night, or Al Gore after 2000, or Bush 41 in 1992, or Reagan after Iowa or New Hampshire in 1980 etc..."

same argument, except for Reagan, which I didn't watch. But he was always the somnambulistic type.

Doesn't that seem to be a more sound and Occam-friendly explanation than 'Dean is a nutjob'? Do you really, in your heart of hearts believe what you post? Or is it all tactical?

Sidereal, No hard feelings.

Don't you think the fact that they're in radically different political positions had something to do with it?

Not really, I think it's more a matter of personality - which is all I'm addressing here. Dean's always been fiery - in a way I never found appealing but never found odd or creepy - until last night.

Doesn't that seem to be a more sound and Occam-friendly explanation than 'Dean is a nutjob'? Do you really, in your heart of hearts believe what you post? Or is it all tactical?

I don't think Dean is a nutjob, crazy, or worse. The problem is he acted crazy last night. I just got back from Penn Station, and outside my girlfriend and I were doing our best"YAAARRRGGGHHH!!!" impression, and two guys standing around did it back, and started making smalltalk about how crazy Dean is. This is bad news.

First poll out of NH has Dean leading Kerry by two points.

Well, what do you know, it's gravitas all over again.

On substance, I think Jonas is right. We expect to act presidential. Last night, Dean did not, unless you consider a WWE wrestler's act to be presidential.

Now, for all we know, Dean's behavior may have been an act. But it doesn't matter if it's real or fake.

What matters is that as ordinary people started paying attention to Dean, he chose to act the way his critics have been describing him -- angry, unstable, out of control.

Not a good move, especially not the day before the SOTU.

Howling Howard will be subject to well-deserved ridicule as long as he remains in the spotlight, and deservedly so.

That said, I don't think he inflicted a fatal wound on himself, hard as he tried. His supporters tend to feel very strongly about him (hi Katherine), and that matters a lot, especially in a crowded field with many mediocre candidates.

"Howling Howard will be subject to well-deserved ridicule as long as he remains in the spotlight, and deservedly so."

The opening sketch of SNL will probably be memorable this week. :-)

Doesn't that seem to be a more sound and Occam-friendly explanation than 'Dean is a nutjob'?

I didn't say Dean is a nutjob. Only that he has a temperament unsuited for a postion of authority.

Do you really, in your heart of hearts believe what you post?

Sure, don't you?

Or is it all tactical?

To achieve what??????

I don't think it matters if Dean is a nutjob or not. What matters is the appearance of him being a nutjob.

Personally, I think Dean's rage is an act, and that he is the best at sensing the anti-Bush, anti-war mood of the primary voters.

Clark, on the other hand, strikes me as genuinely weird.

"I don't think it matters if Dean is a nutjob or not."

This is what I find demoralizing. As I bitched about at length in my original comment, if appearances are all that matter, the postmodernists have already won.

spc:
To clarify, many people who write that Bush is a closet evangelical who wants to realize Armageddon actually believe that, which is why I don't fraternize with that crew. On the other hand, many people who write that Bush is an idiot who can barely tie his shoelaces don't really believe it, but since they're completely opposed to Bush anyway, it's only a white lie and the rhetoric makes them feel better and might drive the poll numbers down. This is what I mean by tactical.

I've been wishing for the return of Bobby Kennedy since I learned about 1968 in high school, and for the real life Jed Bartlet since I started watching the West Wing.

I know exactly what you mean. I've been crying out, deep within my soul, for a politician who would come out and say something, to make a stand for what he thought was really right. Even if it pissed someone else off. Even if it meant he wasn't going to get re-elected.

My "West Wing" moment (or one of them, at least) came during "The Shadow Of Two Gunmen", when Jed Bartlet is addressing a small crowd at a VFW hall that's turned out to hear him speak during the early part of his Presidential bid. A New Hampshire dairy farmer complains that Bartlet's vote on a dairy bill cost the farmer ten cents a gallon on milk. Bartlet looks down for a moment, and then says,

"Yeah, I screwed you on that one. You got hosed ... I put the hammer to farmers in Concord, Salem, Laconia, Pelham ... You guys got rogered but good.

Today for the first time in history, the largest group of Americans living in poverty are children. One in five children live in the most abject, dangerous, hopeless, backbreaking, gut-wrenching poverty any of us could imagine. One in five. And they're children. If fidelity to freedom and democracy is the code of our civic religion, then, surely, the code of our humanity is faithful service to that unwritten commandment that says, 'We should give our children better than we ourselves receive'.

… Let me put it this way. I voted against the bill because I didn't want to make it harder for
people to buy milk. I stopped some money from flowing into your pocket. If that angers you,
if you resent me, I completely respect that. But if you expect anything different from the
President of the United States, you should vote for someone else."


I spent years preparing myself to give my life in the service of my country if necessary, and I believe that the least that my country owes me in return is telling me the truth when it comes to what we need, and what we spend our money on. Don't piss on my hands and tell me it's raining, for God's sake!

If we need to all shell out to make sure that we can check incoming cargo containers for hidden nukes, or to pay for draining a terrorist swamp in Iraq, then I'm OK with that. Just don't say that only those making less than some particular amount get to shell out more money to cover it. Don't tell me that gay people don't get the same rights as Britney Spears. Don't tell me that massive deficits and tax cuts go together like beer and pretzels. Don't tell me that we can get along with half-assed planning for rebuilding Iraq. Don't tell me that you think all of us out here in the 50 states are morons, who can't be trusted to follow whatever line of reasoning you want to provide for your actions.

Howard Dean's not perfect, not by a long shot. I don't like his lack of national experience, nor do I agree with him on a lot of foreign policy issues. But... he trusts random Americans to run his campaign, more than any other major candidate ever has. He tells us that financial sanity is needful, even though it's painful. He tells us that we can actually make a difference. He stands up for what he thinks is right, even if he does shade it sometimes to deal with political realities. He's got fire, and he'll tell you just what he thinks, even if you don't want to hear it, and even if it isn't always consistent with something else he's said.

It's something I've never heard from a politician before, and it speaks to me deep within my soul in a way I never expected a political candidate to do. It's what keeps me going when I look at yet another page of calls to make in my precinct list. It's what keeps me digging deeper when I get that email asking for more donations.

I believe, way down deep, that if all my neighbors and fellow citizens really and truly look at the issues and weigh in with their collective wisdom, then we'll make the right call. Dean's the only candidate I've ever seen who seems to get that, to want to hear from everyone, and to share the desire to let every voice be heard in the decision. I may not agree with him on every issue. However... I trust him, and I trust him to listen to me, and that's a new and wonderful thing for me.

Side note: "Si Se Puede" translates roughly to "Yes we can."

The West Wing is fiction. Martin Sheen's not an intelligent politician, he just plays one on TV.

Ok, that aside: yes, I do think it's better if the pols would just say it the way it is. But, like you, what do I know about it?

Even as a VRWC Deathbeast, it pissed me off mightily that Bush didn't veto the Farm Bill outright, among other things. There's no end to stupid destinations for our tax dollars, and no end to the proposals for new ones. Consider that your tax dollars are, in part, spent to prop up sugar prices so that a certain group of Americans can continue to make profits, even though the world market would set the price much lower.

I believe Tocqueville had something to say about this phenomenon. And it's accelerating. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are going to stand down in the race to see who can buy the most voters out of public coffers.

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