Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Time to Talk Seriously About Dean

By now I'm sure you've seen the latest news today about Dean's run for the DNC Chair:
Governor Howard Dean was endorsed today by several state Democratic Party chairs and vice chairs, adding to his broad, diverse and growing list of support both among the members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The list of voting DNC state party chairs and vice-chairs supporting Governor Dean include:

Florida: Chairman Scott Maddox, Vice-Chairwoman Diane Glasser
Mississippi: Chairman Wayne Dowdy
Oklahoma: Chairman Jay Parmley, Vice-Chairwoman Debbe Leftwich
Utah: Vice-Chairwoman Nancy Woodside
Washington: Chairman Paul Berendt
Vermont: Chairman Peter Mallary

This list of supporters signifies that people in every region of the country approve of Dean's vision and structure that he wants to bring to the DNC.
I remember when Dean was endorsed by Al Gore. It was one of the happiest days I can remember from 2003. But I also remember what happened next. That's why my fellow bloggers, it is time to talk seriously about Howard Dean and discuss the baggage we fail to acknowledge due to our hopes for him.

Truth be told, I am leaning very much toward Howard Dean for the Chair. But let's all stop with the "Dean's the man" talk right now and sing his praises loudly another time. I want to openly discuss what the GOP, The Right, the SCLM, the DLC and the Wurlitzer will say and will do should he be named the head of our party. It's a discussion long overdue in my opinion.

I think the need for such a discussion has deep roots the Blogosphere. In all our good intentions we have glossed over Dean's faults, either real or perceived, based in hopes that a DNC Chair victory would vindicate the slanders and mischaracterizations visited upon the man in the primaries and beyond. Hopes that in such a victory, our belief in the man would be vindicated as well. Hopes we must put aside in order to see clearly the path to assure that Dean is not only elected Chair, but more importantly that he is successful in the position.

With this in mind, I'd like to have a serious discussion of the following bits of baggage that will immediately dog Dean in the Chairman's role:

The Scream
What I want to know is how does Dean propose to overcome the image of the crazy man that has been painted upon him by the SCLM and the right. I know all about the untruth behind that video tape. I defended him for weeks and weeks from my GOP friend, neighbors, coworkers and relatives. I don't care about the truth here. Remember, Al Gore invented the internet, right? Howard Dean is viewed as an object of derision by many outside of the Blogosphere. How does he overcome this, both personally, and as the head of the party?

Just as I commented about Frost being confronted by Russert with his commercial praising his backing of Bush, you can bet the ranch Russert will get at a minimum three or four replays of that speech the first time Dean is on MTP. Saying it ain't true won't cut it. I know it isn't accurate. You know it isn't accurate. Russert knows it isn't accurate. They don't care. I want to know what we and the party will do to cut this attack off at the knees. And I'd like an answer from Dean on this as well. To me, this is the white elephant in the room that no one to my knowledge has asked him directly yet.

Volvo Driving North Eastern Liberal
Next, I'd like to hear how Dean and the party will combat his image, again falsely painted, that he is another North Eastern flaming liberal somewhere to the left of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. I know this is again far from the truth, but remember the truth doesn't seem to matter much in the SCLM or to The Right. I think he's answered much of this with his record with DFA. The endorsements above also help to douse this fire. But the question will come from the Russerts of the dark side, so I'd like to be prepared.

Resistance from the inside out
Finally, and probably most importantly, Dean's fever for reforming the party from the ground up is often one of his foremost selling points. It is one of his greatest positives in my mind. But it is also this drive for reform that will raise the most obstacles from those who might be reformed. How will Dean as the head of the party deal with a party machine that might not see eye to eye with his views, resist his changes, and work to undermine his leadership from the inside out? It is obvious Dean is looking to clean house. I think many of us agree with this greatly. But we're not the one's who stand to get cleaned. How will he deal with the Fainthearted faction and the Lieberman's of our party who will not agree or support him?

I think the world of Howard Dean. The questions I've raised above are not new, but I have yet to see any meaningful dialog on them around the Blogosphere or from Dean. I could care less if Dean pisses off the status quo and the GOP. Actually, I think that would be great for a change. But today for the first time I again see victory nearly within Dean's grasp. But unlike last time, I've seen what happens to front runners. I honestly believe if we do not blunt these issues now, and address our reaction to them preemptively, Dean will again face an onslaught from all directions aimed at taking him down. I rather not witness that again.

I yield the floor....