Washington — Just as things were going swimmingly for the presidential campaign of Dr. Howard Dean, a thick gray storm cloud floats over his shiny oval of a head. In New Hampshire, scene of the first presidential primary, he has forged ahead of his nearest opponent, Senator John Pierre Kerry. Last month it was the Francophone senator who was ahead, 25% to 22%. Now Dr. Howard Dean is ahead 38% to 17% in New Hampshire. Vast crowds are turning up all over the country to hear him. In Seattle, Washington, 10,000 showed up in another of what the New York Times reports are “seemingly spontaneous crowds.” You know, word spreads from Starbucks to Starbucks, from health food shoppe to health food shoppe: “Dr. Howard Dean is coming!” Of a sudden 20,000 Birkenstocks are stomping towards Dr. Howard Dean’s venue.
There they will hear Dr. Howard Dean, attired in button down dress shirt and a nice tie — he never wears a jacket, sports jacket or otherwise. That is part of his message: “Don’t be stuffy.” So he leaves the jacket in the plane. He does wear pants, usually the suit pants to the jacket that he does not wear, and he wears leather shoes, but rarely wingtips. Nixon wore wingtips. A lot of Dr. Howard Dean’s supporters remember Nixon, not with fondness. Nixon lied to the American people.
Dr. Howard Dean’s wardrobe is only part of his magic. He is very angry with President George W. Bush. In fact, of all the Democratic candidates Dr. Howard Dean is the maddest. This seems to be the reason for the large crowds. They are really mad too. They love it when Dr. Howard Deans says things such as, “When this President talks, sometimes the opposite of what he says is really the truth.” As with Nixon so with George W. Bush, liberal Democrats do not like to be lied to. That is one of the things they admired about Bill Clinton. He never lied to the American people…unnecessarily.
“He’s not running a campaign, he’s running a movement,” writes Natasha C. on the Dean website, if the New York Times is to be believed. “These are protest-size crowds, these are not politics-size crowds, and that makes a critical difference,” Ms. C. asseverates. Indeed it does. Join the first protest of the Twenty-First Century. The only problem this protest movement faces is that there is almost nothing to protest. Yet Dr. Howard Dean can face up to that problem later. For now he has that storm cloud overhead.
Just as he is forging ahead in the polls and his fund-raising appeals are enriching the campaign so handsomely that he is considering eschewing federal funds by ignoring spending limits, comes devastating news. One of his opponents among the nine Democrats seeking the party’s coveted nomination, former Senator Carol Moseley Braun, has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women’s Political Action committee and by the National Women’s Political Caucus — two in one day!
“We are particularly pleased that out of a field of strong progressive candidates, the strongest feminist candidate turns out to be a woman,” intoned the president of the National Organization for Women upon announcing her support of former Senator Braun. I suppose this is another first, a woman Democratic presidential candidate who is also a feminist or is it a feminist Democratic presidential candidate who is also a woman? At any rate, former Senator Braun was equally obscure. Said she: “Together we are going to take the ‘men only’ sign off the White House door.” Possibly she does not know how big the White House is. It has many doors, and I cannot recall any with a “Men Only” sign on it.
So it looks like Dr. Howard Dean is not going to get the feminist vote. In his party that is a large percentage of the vote. Now what if Senator John Pierre Kerry takes the gay vote? And what if the environmentalists go to Congressman Dennis Kucinich? We know that the unions lean towards other candidates and very few African Americans appear in Dr. Howard Dean’s spontaneous crowds.
The problem the clever Dr. Howard Dean faces is that his party is a mélange of one-issue enthusiasts. Dr. Dean has reached for the anti-war crowd but what about the other groups? He hopes to corral them by striking the one chord that holds them all together, hatred of President George W. Bush. Democrats get very mad when they think someone other than a Democrat is lying to them.