Friday, February 11, 2005

Are We Ready to Rumble? (UPDATED)

"Rove on Dean" from the Financial Times discusses an alleged "second scream" that Rove mentioned at a media conference this week in New York: "But just for the record, Rove - the man President Bush affectionately calls "Turdblossom" - considers Dean a worthy opponent who could be a good chairman of the Democratic national committee." Doublespeak is alive and well in the White House. MSNBC presents highlights of Dan Balz' commentary in the Washington Post, "Ailing Democrats put faith in Dr. Dean," that covers all the possible pros and cons of Dean's impact on the body politic. "As New DNC Chairman, Dean Vows To Restructure Party," from the New York Sun, covers a speech yesterday at a gathering of state party leaders from across the country: "Previewing the acceptance speech he will give after votes are cast on Saturday, Dr. Dean told a gathering of state party leaders from across the country that he will spend a "disproportionate amount of my time" in states that Democrats had all but abandoned in the last election." The Baltimore Sun has this editorial, "Broadening the tent" that offers "congratulations for his anticipated victory, a comeback story come true because of hard work against long odds. His election was opposed by party leaders who favored candidates they thought would be less controversial." Their prescription for tent broadening might not be Dean's preferred strategy, however. Today's Boston Globe has a long story about the genesis of Dean's run at the DNC job, "For Dean's movement, an unlikely inspiration." Executive summary: Dean looked carefully at the success of the Christian right and has come to this conclusion: "After the Democrats' losses in November, Dean made it clear he intended to change the party hierarchy, not be changed by it. In a December speech titled "The Future of the Democratic Party," he laid down his marker with a quote from Harry S Truman: "We're not going to get anywhere by trimming or by appeasing. And we ought not to try it." Texas political consultant Billy Horton has "Howard Dean will make a great party chair for Dems" in the Houston Chronicle. What he says: "Perhaps we have wrongly come to see succinct candor as a kind of arrogance because we have forgotten that some of our best, including confident decision-makers like Harry Truman, did not dabble in political double talk. I find it refreshing that Dean's quick and sure answers to the press and political opponents are just what our party needs. His honesty, intellect and clarity of language will send Republicans packing on the Sunday talk show circuit." Update: Oh, I almost forgot the NY Times story, "A New Dean for a New Job. But the Old One Lingers." They never fail to piss me off, like everybody's old Uncle Sourpouss: "At that event, as Dr. Dean made his first public appearance as the presumptive chairman of the party, he began to give some clues about how he will lead it. There were early signs that he plans to perform a high wire act, balancing the older, rabble-rousing image from his presidential campaign that appeals to his ardent fans with the one of a more muted consensus-builder that he has presented to win over skeptics in the Democratic Party establishment." "Most of you know there are a lot of people in this city who are afraid I'm going to be very unorthodox - and I am," Dr. Dean declared to hundreds of mostly young supporters. Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska who is now president of New School University in New York, put a finer point on Mr. Kerry's comments about Dr. Dean. "He has to give people confidence there isn't a 'Democratic wing' of the Democratic party," Mr. Kerrey said, a reference to a trademark campaign phrase that Dr. Dean used to distinguish himself from moderates during the primaries. "The biggest challenge for Howard is going to be overcoming his own words and his own previous statements." Gee Bob, what have you done lately to unite, not divide, the Democratic party? If politics is war, Kerrey is not being patriotic and isn't that cause for consequences? Do we need to be tougher on those that drive wedges into our message in the pages of the major media? My Left Coast bias must be showing because I prefer the LA Times story, "Democrats Aren't Giving Bush a Break This Term" by Ron Brownstein. At least he characterizes the Dems as fighters, while he picks apart the various constituencies and wings of the party.

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