Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Let Dean be Dean!

Howard Dean points out that Republicans (in context, implicitly the leadership) have never worked for a living.
So John Edwards and Joe Biden have distanced themselves from the comment (and by extension, the Chairman himself). Both are gearing up for 2008 (already!).

Of course, Edwards is smart enough to be blogging, and has clarified his comments. I'll reserve my ire for Biden, though Edwards is wrong to say that Dean "doesn't speak for the party." To the extent anyone does, it must be Dr. Dean.

Anyone who thinks that Howard Dean shouldn't be making fun of Republican leaders is a moron. If we don't start framing Republican leadership as out of touch, we'll lose every election from here to eternity. The great weakness of Republicans is that everyone sees them as out of touch rich folks at the country club.

When Dean says that he's for working class people and Republicans are all fat-cats, that's how we win. If we run from that, we look weak, dumb, and divided.

Setting aside the truth or falseness of what Dean said, how he said it matters, and was exactly right. Democrats need to make it their practice to say tough truths some times, and saying it off-the-cuff lets you bury a retraction a few days later if need be, while getting out a critical message.

Do Republicans go through such paroxysms of apology whenever one of their leaders says something dumb? How about when the chairman of the RNC claims the administration's support for science is unprecedented when science funding is being slashed? That's pretty bad, but no one is claiming Mehlman doesn't speak for them. No one stepped in to distance themselves from Trent Lott's neoconfederatism.

Why do Democratic leaders assume that people will tar them with the same brush as their leader? Why do they care?

What I've always liked about Dean is that he is real. Maybe he misspeaks, maybe he's a little rambunctious, but that's only because he cares and he doesn't script every sentence he utters. When he said in the primaries that Democrats should be reaching out to guys with Confederate flags on their pickups, everyone knew what he meant, even though some people pretended it was a play for those same neoconfederates. No, it was a play for rednecks. Grow up.

Did Dean say that Republicans don't work for a living? Not really. Whatever he said off-the-cuff, context, history, and facts all suggest that he was making the uncontroversial statement that Republicans are fat-cats.