February 17, 2005

DANGEROUS DEER HUNTER:

Now He Has the Power (JOHN NICHOLS, March 7, 2005, The Nation)

With the selection of Howard Dean as its chairman, the 213-year-old Democratic Party has become something it has not been for a long time: exciting. A measure of that came three days before the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee chose him, at a pre-victory party Dean held in a microbrewery just blocks from DNC headquarters. Hundreds of his mostly young, mostly liberal supporters packed the place to hear Dean declare the Democrats to be the "party of the future." They also got a signal that he remained "their man," not the neutered version of himself that party insiders were still hoping he might become in his new role. When a backer bellowed the updated Harry Truman slogan that became a mantra for Dean's presidential campaign--"Give 'em hell, Howard!"--a wicked grin rippled across Dean's face. "I'm trying to be restrained in my new role," he chirped. "I may be looking for a three-piece suit." Then he burst into laughter and exclaimed, "Fat chance!"

The crowd cheered. Reporters flipped open notebooks. A faint shudder was heard from the offices of Congressional Democratic leaders. And Republicans, recalling the Iowa caucus incident that so damaged Dean's presidential prospects, repeated their tired take on the Vermonter's political resurrection: "It's a scream."

But unlike past DNC chairs, Dean won't have to scream for attention. Taking over as chairman of a party that is locked out of the White House and unable to muster anything more than a "minority leader" to flex its legislative muscle, Dean has positioned himself as the most camera-ready Democrat in the country. As such, he is in a position to make his party--as opposed to an individual candidate or faction--more newsworthy and potentially more dangerous than it has been in decades.


Didn't The Nation get the memo about how Howard Dean doesn't speak for the Party?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2005 8:11 PM
Comments

Perhaps by alienating religous blacks and other minorities, they can make themselves even more dangerous.

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at February 17, 2005 8:21 PM

With the selection of Howard Dean as its chairman, the 213-year-old Democratic Party has become something it has not been for a long time: exciting.

Beg pardon?

Posted by: Captain Curmudgeon at February 17, 2005 8:54 PM

Captain:

Train wrecks ARE exciting.

Posted by: jeff at February 17, 2005 9:02 PM

In his secret cave far under Gotham, Karl Rove cackles.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 17, 2005 9:04 PM

The problem is that Dean is an expert fundraiser and I suspect his whole Crazy Left persona is an act. I sense a wee bit of overconfidence in the Right's reaction to his chairmanship.

Sweet Jesus, let me be wrong about this.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 17, 2005 9:40 PM

Matt:

Don't worry. Dean will probably be more effective than many expect him to be, but he may not be able to raise money like Terry McAuliffe did. I doubt if Dean is plugged into Hollywood or the unions the way other bigshot Dems are. Howlin' Howard will give them a jolt of energy, but what that means, we don't know yet.

And, unlike Ken Mehlman, who always looks like a tired actuary, Dean is always just a sentence away from political firestorm. Plus, the one thing we know Howard did with money in 2003/2004 was to spend it profligately.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 17, 2005 9:55 PM

he is in a position to make his party--as opposed to an individual candidate or faction--more newsworthy and potentially more dangerous than it has been in decades.

He's too cautious: the Democratic party is already more dangerous than it has been in decades.

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 18, 2005 1:20 AM

To what besides itself?

Posted by: Gideon at February 18, 2005 3:26 AM

If he goes on TV a lot, it will be a disaster for the Dems because he is, to put it mildly, gaffe-prone. If he stays put and raises money from his acolytes in Hollywood and the trust fund Left, he'll do very well.

The problem the Democrats have in a nutshell is that the people who give them the money they need to run for office hold positions which about 80% of the country find anywhere from morally repugnant to unpatriotic to downright loopy. Corporate money is gone. Why give bucks to the losing candidate, when the reason you give bucks is to 'purchase influence?' Politics is a winner-take-all game, losing candidates have no influence.

So, they are caught in a vicious cycle, they need to raise money so they can get votes from the center but to raise money they need to appeal to people whose entire reason for giving politicians money is to advance positions the center overwhelmingly rejects.

Posted by: Bart at February 18, 2005 9:34 AM

I saw an article on Yahoo that was headlined, "$100 Million spent in Ohio." The breakdown was Kerry-$61, Bush-$39 (strangely, the article disappeared 5 minutes later). The Dems have never had so much money. Perhaps their message doesn't resonate.

Posted by: ed at February 18, 2005 9:43 AM

I suspect 99% of Americans never know who the party leaders are. Even less have it affect their votes.

The quality of local candidates is what determines the party.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at February 18, 2005 10:45 AM

Chris:

Dan Quayle.

Posted by: oj at February 18, 2005 10:56 AM

Gideon: dangerous to the country.

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 18, 2005 4:02 PM
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