Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Howard Dean Redux

Hi Gang,

When Howard Dean was being put forward as the Chairman of the DNC, we had a little debate about it on this blog. I was of the opinion that Dean was likely to represent a move by the party to the left which would run a high risk of alienating centrist voters. I was afraid that Dean would alienate fiscal conservatives with liberal social views. I was also concerned that Dean's track record of speaking without thinking would be a problem (not sure that was a major dimension of the debate). I bring this up now because Dean is coming under fire for some poorly thought out comments. The highlights are that he said Republicans "never worked an honest day in their lives" and that the Republican party is "pretty much a White, Christian party." I agree with the second statement but I think he was amateurish to say it that way. But these are not nearly as bad as any number of statements by people like Trent Lott or Newt Gingrich (who said on the Daily Show the other day that Ali and Fraser went out and had "cocoanut juice" after their fight).
The first statement is still problematic. The Christian right are not the wealthy elite he suggests. And most people recognize that. While it may be true that Bush and Cheney have not done an honest days work, one cannot say the same about the millions of rank and file theo-fascists who keep the GOP moving. They are a lot of things (mostly bad) but they aren't thieves.

Bill Richardson is trying to distance himself from Dean without directly saying he's nuts.

Dean supporters will surely say that Dean is needed to "energize the base." I counter that with a President like this we don't need Dean to do that. Besides, the Democratic party got a higher turnout in 2004 than ever before (highly energized base) and still narrowly lost. Turning out the base is not the key. Getting the socially liberal fiscal conservatives is.

Anyone want to defend Dean? Condemn him?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

As long as the Republicans keep talking about family values and God, the Democrats don't have anyone who can challenge them. There is a return to Christianity in this country that we, who live on the west coast, don't visibly see as much as there is in small populated areas of our country. There is a divide that was obivous when you look at which states voted for Kerry and which voted for Bush. I believe on a base level that it's because of this return to Christianity....I'll post one of my favorite qoutes by Bills Hicks:

"I'll show you politics in America: 'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking' hey, wait a minute there's one guy holding up both puppets 'Shut up!' go back to bed America, your government is in control. Here's Love Connection, watch this and get fat and stupid.. by the way, keep drinking beer you fucking morons." 

// posted by Siddharthawolf

Anonymous said...

Well,I'll take a stab at defending Dean. He's a real person. At least you know where he stands. My Superego hates to see Democrats sinking to the level of spewing crap. My Ego thinks that letting Dean spew isn't such a bad thing. And my Id is pleased to hear someone voice my anger.

Since when did accuracy matter? Dean is playing the game the way Neo-Cons do. He is planting a perception. And for many, it isn’t such a far out perception. We live in a time when the average CEO is making $18,000 for every $1 made by a line worker. He’s flying the corporate jet to Bermuda while Joe Bob is trying to make is car payment and pay to get his kid’s teeth cleaned. Keep in mind that there has been a long-standing joke about Democrats hide their cash because they feel guilty about their wealth while Republicans spend what they steal. It isn’t far off.

Ted Kennedy the other day commented that Dean is well positioned to say things that others can't. Dean, in his bombastic style, can raise issues or spark discussion about things that others can't. He can take risks. The average voter isn't going to parse Dean's words as carefully as the Blog does. So I say, le the guy roll. We need a reckless shakeup. I am less interested in winning now and more interested in getting people to wake up and think!
 

// posted by UsWest

Anonymous said...

I guess I just don't see middle America jumping onboard and voting for the guy. But USWest seems more concerned with being entertained as opposed to helping fix America from all the damage the Republicans have done.

I would be more inclined to vote for the guy if he didn't sound like a whiny pissed off Democrat. And talking for shock value (sound bites) isn't going to get you elected. Being clear, honest and thoughtful about the words you choose will get Dean towards his goal. 

// posted by Siddharthawolf

Anonymous said...

I actually think that Democrats' main job now is to convince the public that they have firm convictions, values, and beliefs. This requires articulating those beliefs clearly and calling the conservatives for who they are - anti-American liars and bigots. And they have to start using those words. That's what conservatives said about Democrats for the past two decades, and it sunk in. Does this mean a win in 2006 or 2008? Not necessarily. But we have to realize that con job the Repugs managed to do. Bush won in large part because he kept saying "I have firm convictions and values" and people believed that. Kerry tried to be reasonable, but the public took that as (1) being an effete intellectual; (2) vaguely effeminate; and (3)just plain wishy-washy. Dean doesn't need to repeat Kerry's mistake by seeming too calm and reasoned. These times require someone to stand up for what they believe in without being mealy-mouthed or hestiant. Dean needs to take on Bush and knock him off his pedestal. He needs to show the country that Democrats stand for real American values, and Republicans are phony. This requires tough talk. It may take a few elections to put together a win, but Kerry's 49% in 2004 should give us hope.  

// posted by Law Talking Guy

Anonymous said...

As always LTG has articulated my point better than I should have. I completely agree with his stance that Democrats need to stand their ground, speak up and call the REpublicans out on thier bulls**t. It IS a step in the right direction, I just think Dean is coming off as whiny and pissed off as opposed to the guy in school who stands up against the schoolyard bully 

// posted by Siddharthawolf

Anonymous said...

SID, to clarify, LTG's comments reflected your first post about values, not your second about Dean being “whinny.” If speaking out and admitting you’re an angry, and then acting on that anger to bring change is “whinny”, then I am not sure what "whinny" means anymore. Granted, I think the jury is out on how much real “change” Dean is going to bring. But when it comes to my attitude about Dean, I am pretty consistent in my views.  

I said in my post "Dean is playing the game the way Neo-Cons do." I also said, "Dean is well positioned to say things that others can't. Dean, in his bombastic style, can raise issues or spark discussion about things that others can't." And this, I think is part of what must happen in order to "fix" America. I’ve been saying that since the elections.

Do I want to be entertained? You bet. I am very entertained and thrilled when I see a Democrat speaking out boldly, frankly, and honestly. I get a chill when Democrats confront Republicans head on and get a little nasty. That is one of the things I liked about Gray Davis. He wasn't afraid to play ball. Democrats have to stop being so lily-livered. Thus, I too agree with LTG.

And let's not forget that isn't Dean who is running for an election as Sid's posts seems to suggest. He is working to rebuild the DNC and the party. And He will move it to the left. And maybe we will end up with 2 parties again as a result. And this may be what America needs in order to be "fixed". The danger is that moderates get excluded. This would be my main concern. I wouldn't want to see some ideological wing of neo-progressives taking over the party. Then we would end up becoming no different than that which we distain.
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

FYI: Considering the topic we are discussing, you may want to read the following article from the Boston Globe  "Dean isn't the Problem". 

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

I agree that the problem is one of substance. Democrats need to be for something and be seen to be for something. Attacking Dean doesn't get us there...but then neither does Dean.

What's more, Dean's outbursts (and those of people like Hillary Clinton etc) send the same old signal to the vital suburban voters that Democrats are a bunch of raving fools.

LTG is partly right that Democrats need to stand up to the Republicans. But they need to be saying something coherent when they do. Dean doesn't really have anything substantive to say.

The list of votes that Harry Ried threatened to use to bog down the Senate did however give a hint of the kind of thing the Democrats SHOULD present as their platform. Only after adopting a coherent platform will Democratic anger be seen as anything other than childishness.

As for what the Democrats should stand for? I point to much of what Ried talked about. But I would oppose any attempt by the Democrats to change their message on key social issues (such as abortion, prayer in schoools etc) in an effort to outbid the Republicans for the votes of rural voters.

Now for a bit of a tangent that may shed light on what kinds of changes the Democrats should go for. (Besides I think this is a really interesting issue.) Several recent comments have alluded to the supposed division between Red States and Blue States. Or to a conflict between the coasts and "Middle America." But the reality is a division between rural counties and urban counties. Check this out . It's a map of the 2004 election by county (red for Dems, blue for GOP). Or look at it with population of the counties included here. Note that all the counties with big populations went for the Democrats, at least marginally, regardless of which way the state as a whole went.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I agree that Reid's Senate agenda is a good start. But I thoroughly disagree with the comment that "Dean doesn't really have anything substantive to say." Hogwash. He's the only Democratic politician willing to say what J. Danforth said: that the Republicans have been taken over by right-wing evangelical ideologues. That's crucial substance to communicate -- in other words, to communicate to your average suburbanite that Republican values and ideas are really alien to them. I take issue with the idea that "substance" means "being a policy wonk." You're not going to win national elections on peculiar issues.
 

// posted by Law Talking Guy

Anonymous said...

Substance is policy. Firey rhetoric is just the package. Fire rhetoric has its place. And it is a good political tool. But without the "policy wonk" stuff, it is easily recognized as nonsense. People like Bush because they "know what he stands for." And while I despise the man's policies, I must admit they are fairly easy to predict.

What policies does Dean advocate?  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Repeal of Bush tax cut. Reinstatement of estate tax. Anti-discrimination legislation for gays. Equal Rights Amendment. Universal health coverage. An end to military adventurism in Iraq. No torture as national terrorism policy. Affordable housing. Labor's right to organize freely. Free Speech. Freedom of Religion. Separation of Church and State. Increased funding for AIDS research. Reproductive rights. Academic freedom. Federally funded stem cell research. Environmental regulation. Promotion of hybrid fuels for automobiles. Promotion of alternative energy sources. Gun control legislation. More money for police and schools. Maintaining Social Security.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The question really is why this message doesn't get carried clearly.

I think Senator Obama was right to begin his speech by saying "We believe in an awesome God in the blue states." But I know RBR disagrees with making morality the unifying theme for the policies outlined above. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with making morality the basis of policy advocacy - just as a basis for institutional design. I do object to making RELIGION the basis for either. And I find the implicit assumption that belief in an "awesome God" equals morality to be offensive. The implication is that there can be no morality absent religion. I argue that the correlation between religiosity and morality is close to zero! That is to say there are moral people who are religious and moral atheists. And there are people who behave badly who religious and who are atheists.

American society is plauged by the intolerant assumption of a causal relationship between religiosity and morality. And both the religious right and the religious left are guilty of it.

 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I pushed a button. Religion is the traditional language of moral talk. That's all. And you'd be rather a fool to try to talk about morality without using the customary language. The argument about the relationship of religion to morality is, I think, beside the point. 

// posted by LTG

Dr. Strangelove said...

I like it when Dean tells it like it is. As LTG says, Democrats need to start calling Republicans liars and sinners when they lie and sin. But I cannot support Dean when he tries to "play the game" like the conservatives do; I do not like it when he lies either. Deception spreads like a rot and corrupts all it touches. Only the wicked prosper in a world of lies.

LTG has said that Democrats should advocate a "Culture of Love," yet I feel a "Culture of Truth" is more urgently needed. All this talk of "values" in politics is bullshit. Nobody cares about what is true or right--especially those in power--they only care about how much they can get. And this is true for liberal politicians as well as conservatives these days. So long as politics remains just a nasty struggle of greedy children to get everything they want for themselves with no thought as to what is fair or good, how can anything but evil ever come of it?

I'm so fed up I think I'd vote for the devil himself if he'd just tell the truth.

[note: the preceding has been a discussion of values using traditional language. No Jesus required]

Anonymous said...

With respect, I don't think the discussion of the relationship between religion and morality is beside the point. I think it is the point.

Democrats get all muddled with the "values" debates because they try to use religious terminology that most of them don't use on a daily basis in their lives (of course there are many deeply religous liberals as well). They are immediately recognized as "posers" and dismissed. But if they came clean and said, "I don't go to church very often." Or (gasp!), "I don't believe in God." They would be declared unelectable and all too few people would object.

This puts the Democratic Party in a bad spot. On the one hand, a disproportionate share of their members are either only occaisional church goers (you know, the type that go on holidays and when Grandma is in town but that's it), agnostics or atheists. But by insisting that any discussion of values be carried out in an exclusively religious (and predominantly Christian) vocabulary, they are put in the position of being either posers or "fools."

Finally, in another discussion stream on this blog we are all in agreement that a young man's parents are "evil" for trying to force him to deny his homosexuality and live life in the closet. But anyone who tries to talk about morality without the "traditional language" is a "fool." Don't ask don't tell for atheists?  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

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