Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2005 / 5 Adar I, 5765
The new Dean on campus
Twice I have underestimated Howard Dean. I never thought he'd be
competitive in the Democratic primaries and, not learning my lesson, I
foolishly predicted he would never get the top job at the Democratic
National Committee. So I won't blame you if you stop reading my latest
thoughts about Dean.
The governor is a driven man who brings a sense of certainty to
a party in trouble. The Democrats are waffling around all over the place.
The left wing of the party got battered by the successful Iraqi election, a
beating that caused Ted Kennedy to skip the State of the Union address. The
uber liberal faction of the Democratic Party simply has no traction
whatsoever in the court of public opinion.
Moderate Democrats are in much better shape, which is why you
are seeing Hillary Clinton running to the center. Senator Clinton now says
she understands and respects those who oppose abortion, and she's demanding
tough action on national security problems. No more touchy-feely for Mrs.
Clinton, no way. She's now tough on the bad guys and understanding of those
with whom she disagrees.
Not so Howard Dean. He remains a defiant guy. At a meeting for
Democrats on Jan. 29, he made things quite clear by saying: "I hate the
Republicans and everything they stand for."
On Fox News two weeks earlier, Dean, with apologies to Richard
Nixon, again made things perfectly clear: "There's nothing I admire about
the Republicans. They can't manage money. They've gotten us into a war
without telling us why we're there."
This kind of in-your-face condemnation of Republicans is
soothing for many hard-core Democrats who are beyond furious that the GOP is
running things. Dean's denunciation of all things right (as in wing) gets
juices flowing on the Left. Thus, the governor has become the second most
powerful Democrat in country behind Senator Clinton.
By most accounts, Hillary and Bill Clinton aren't real thrilled
with Dean. In order to win the presidency, Mrs. Clinton has to sway some
traditional voters to her side. A bomb-throwing, left-leaning DNC chief does
Hillary no good at all.
Dean is a tremendous fundraiser, but Hillary doesn't need the
bucks. She will raise an enormous amount of money with or without Dean. So
the bottom line is that Governor Dean brings nothing but potential grief to
On the other side, those hateful Republicans love Dean as head
of the DNC. They can put him into the Michael Moore category and demonize
him all day long. The truth is that Howard Dean is not a flaming
left-winger, but many of his supporters are, and Dean has embraced them.
Also, the more successful President Bush is in Iraq, the worse Dean will
look and, by extension, most Democrats, including Hillary. So why did the
party turn to a man with so many negatives?
The answer is that Dean can fire people up. And that's no small
feat in Democratic circles. John Kerry was the ultimate party pooper. He had
all kinds of trouble getting folks, including the Democratic choir, to sing
along. "Stodgy" is probably the best word for Kerry. The Dems badly need
charisma; Dean has it.
But all in all, Howard Dean will probably hurt his party. He is
generally intolerant of red state values, and Republicans will seize upon
this to serve up Dean, Hillary and liberal extremism in one puffed-up
soufflé. And that will certainly be a tasty dish for the party in power.
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