December 27, 2003
Label Howard Dean!
Is it just me, or have our top political journalists been competing to see who can pin the longest-lasting label to the Dean campaign?
First, Dean was too liberal. Then, he was too Northern and/or elitist (He’s from Vermont! Vermont’s not the real America! or He grew up in New York, completely detached from the corn-fed youth of the real America!). Too politically uncalculating. Too forthright. Too angry.
But my favorite so far is Franklin Foer’s, from The New Republic: He’s too secular.
You’ve gotta love any article that starts with an essentially unproveable thesis — “Howard Dean is one of the most secular candidates to run for president in modern history” — and then attempts to back it up with a steaming pile of lack-of-proof. When Foer makes an assertion accompanied by the word “often” or “generally,” expect him to offer one shabby out-of-context quote as evidence, e.g.:
When Dean talks about organized religion, it is often in a negative context. “I don’t want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore,” he shouted at the California Democratic Convention in March. And, when he discusses spirituality, it is generally divorced from any mention of God or church. “We are not cogs in a corporate machine,” he preached last month in Iowa. “We are human, spiritual beings who deserve better consideration as human beings than we’re getting from this administration.”
A quarter of Foer’s treatise is devoted to explaining how Dean’s religion just isn’t quite religious enough. Another quarter of the article details how Dean’s mainstream Democratic positions fail to endear him to fundamentalist Christians (whom, by the way, Foer insists on confusing with evangelical Christians).
Ah well, no matter. Dean, seeing a new media label in the making, seems to have put out a foot to squash this one early.
What label do you think they’ll come up with next?? I’ve got one idea…
Dean’s Children Too Boring
By Spanklin Sore
Howard Dean has easily deflected criticisms that he’s too liberal to take on Bush by pointing to his centrist record as governor of Vermont. But a weakness of the Dean campaign is steadily emerging that won’t be so easily dismissed.
Successful candidates for Presidents these days just have to have interesting kids.
Consider the past three sets of Oval Offspring: Jenna and Barbara keep us all wondering just what those crazy twins are going to do next; Chelsea provided all sorts of fun for the media; and, don’t forget, George W. was one of the First Kids himself back in the day. Even Karenna Gore-Schiff was quite the name to drop back in 2000 when Al Gore was relevant.
Dean’s kids, on the other hand… Well, there was that whole liquor store break-in thing this summer. Big whoop.
But although Dean’s lack of family goodness has big general election implications, don’t expect it to hurt him in primary season. This is the sort of issue one of the electable candidates could take Bush on with (So he’s got two college-age alcohol-minded lassies with scandalous Ashton Kutcher-type possibly drug connections… John Edwards’ son is deceased! Top that, Karl Rove!), but those crazy-ass, nothing-at-all-like-the-sane-rest-of-America primary voters will insist on ignoring yet another gaping Dean electability hazard.