Howard Dean ought to have been happy with his fifteen minutes of fame.
During the diminutive former Governor of Vermont’s mercurial rise to the top of the news cycle throughout the 2004 Democratic presidential primary — and his equally sudden fall into buffoonery — Dean easily affixed his immortality on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card. Unsatisfied though, Dean ran for chairman of a defeated, demoralized and directionless Democratic National Committee. And won. Today marks the completion of his first 100 days in office. It’s a natural integer at which to take stock of his performance.
Unfortunately for Dean it’s a big leap from 15 minutes to 100 days. While Dean approached the job of chairman like a 747 through a doggie door, some high-level Democrat governors have so far dangled him at arm’s length like a soiled diaper. Arizona’s Janet Napolitano, Kansas’s Katherine Sebelius, Tennessee’s Phil Bredesen, blue governors in red states all, have cited the always convenient “scheduling conflict” when the chairman has swung into their respective towns. Virginia’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine, who would like to be governor of the conservative Old Dominion, has also recoiled from Dean.
Dean is not without his fans, of course. An April Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey shows Dean indeed has a gaggle of enthusiasts. But they can’t really be called “mainstream” in any strict sense of that term. Eighty-two percent of self-described Dean activists also describe themselves as liberal; 99% opposed the war in Iraq; 91% favor gay marriage; and half “never” or “rarely” attend church. But an open question remains as to whether or not this audience is large enough to win a national election.
No job description of “national chairman” could exclude the responsibility of raising the money necessary to mount a respectable performance in 2006. Here again, though, Dean has fallen short. Way short. During the first quarter of 2005, Dean’s Democrat National Committee raised $16.7 million. In contrast, Ken Mehlman’s Republican National Committee raked in $32.3 million, nearly twice the amount. Indeed, the Republicans nearly matched Dean’s three-month take in one night: May 17, on which the GOP raised $15 million.
Asked about this on Meet the Press on May 22, Dean pretended it was no big deal. “Well, that’s — I think that’s fine. You know, Republicans have always been better at raising money than we have,” he said. But Dean wasn’t being honest. For example, during the 2004 election the Democratic National Committee raised and spent more money in its losing effort than did the GOP.
These first 100 days have been characterized largely by Dean’s quixotic foray into “moral values” territory. The reader will recall that nearly a quarter of all American voters cited “moral values” as the primary motive behind their vote in 2004 and that this subgroup split its votes in favor of President George W. Bush over Senator John Kerry 82% to 18%.
Overnight, 2004’s Dr. Dean, who castigated voters for caring about “God, guns, and gays,” transubstantiated into 2005’s Rev. Dr. Dean, the Bible-quoting crusader for the rights of the poor. But casual observers might be forgiven for believing Dean is speaking in tongues. Here’s the Right Reverend on Meet the Press on May 22:
Well, something like that, anyway.
At an early-March fundraising dinner in Mississippi, Rev. Dean expounded, “Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” It was an odd homily coming from Dean, who appeared to condemn himself and his whole family to an eternity of teeth gnashing and flesh tearing, for Dean grew up in Manhattan’s tony Upper West Side and vacationed at the Hamptons as a boy.
At the same dinner, the Rev. Dean preached, “You should love thy neighbor. I didn’t notice that in the Republican platform.” This was a peculiar tirade for the Chairman of the Democratic Party because the Democratic platform doesn’t contain that language, either. Moreover, Dean has a history of rejecting that little pearl, as when he berated a simple farmer in Iowa named Dale Ungerer on January 11, 2004:
Dean: George Bush is not my neighbor!
Ungerer: Yes, he is…
Dean: You sit down. You’ve had your say and now I’m going to have my say.
Moreover, just when the Left thought it had the Religious Right on the run over the perceived political overreach regarding the tragedy of Ms. Terri Schiavo, Dean pulled defeat from the jaws of victory.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?