Last week, Howard Dean told the Democratic faithful at a meeting in Toronto that Republicans are “brain dead.” Although many conservative feelings were hurt, I’m holding my breath for the ACLU to file suit for infliction of emotional distress. While I’m here asphyxiating — and for the sake of the lamebrained among us — let’s review why Dean is even speaking anywhere at all.
At the Iowa caucuses, during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Dean lost to Kerry by more delegates than he received, and was closer to Gephardt in fourth than to Edwards in second. The Democrats, under the leadership of the two candidates who beat Dr. Dean, then went on to lose the electoral count and popular election by 3,012,497 votes to the archetype of the “brain-dead and intolerant”: President Bush. The brilliant democratic minds observed that something needed to change at the base of their party’s leadership, that a charming and inspiring new Democratic National Committee chairman was necessary — so they went with the guy who got third at Iowa. Since then, Republicans have rejoiced and strained to withhold their exuberance. My theory regarding this curious choice is that next to Dean, Hillary will seem moderate in 2008. Someone more left than Hillary is running the party? Things are not looking good for the Blue.
Less than two months ago, during his chairman acceptance speech, Dean said, “We cannot win if all we are is against the current president and his administration.” Already the M.D. is disregarding his own harangue by spending all his energy rallying against one of Bush’s most loyal senators. Dr. Dean is making the case to kick Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum out of office because, gasp, Santorum wanted Terri Schiavo to stay alive. In Philadelphia last week, Dean said he will do “anything” to defeat Santorum in 2006. Using the time-honored negative campaigns the Dems so loathe, Dean is more focused on trashing Santorum than promoting anyone else. He is throwing his support to the next best thing, Robert P. Casey Jr. — a strange endorsement considering Casey is anti-abortion and anti-gun control, but he’s a faithful yellow dog to the Pennsylvania Deaniacs.
In a February stop in Kansas, Dean said, “This is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.” I try not to read too much into politicians’ comments, but unless the Dems are now campaigning against Darth Maul and the Lord of the Sith, I think he’s saying that Republicans are evil. He also just stopped short of calling Santorum a liar with, “He doesn’t tell the truth.” But the highlight of the evening was this knee-slapper: “Santorum should stay in Virginia, but he’s too much of a right-winger for Virginia. How about Venezuela?”
Enough making fun of Dean. Here’s the deal: I’m no Joe Trippi, but it seems Dean is not following his own advice. He’s given the speech before about the degraded state of politics today, and has been a victim of it himself, but still can’t manage to stay away from temptation. If we have to focus on the cons of Santorum’s re-election, let’s shy away from adjectives such as “evil” and “brain dead.” I’m not here to support Santorum’s re-election bid. He should lose a lot of votes because of his thoughtless comments on homosexuality, but he would lose more if Dean weren’t approaching the election like a raging bull. Democrats should be concerned about Dean’s actions.
Instead of only highlighting Santorum’s faults, Dean should focus on Casey and talk about his strengths. Here’s a great opportunity for the Democrats to prove that Republicans can be out of step with the morals of America, and to prove that a positive campaign can work.
But I doubt Dr. Dean will heed this advice. Why would he? He now has an influential position as the leader of every “brain-dead” Democrat in America. (Hurts, doesn’t it?) As expected, there’s no current Republican campaign to discredit Howard Dean, because the longer he is running the show, the better off we all will be.
Mike Slater is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.