In the article "Short-Fused Populist, Breathing Fire at
Bush" in yesterday's Washington Post, reporter Evelyn Nieves
has already started the Dean-bashing. The press has already
decided that they don't like Howard Dean, so they're going to do to
him the same thing that they did to Al Gore.
She starts off by writing: "Ropy veins popped out of his neck, blood
rushed to his cheeks, and his eyes, normally blue-gray, flashed black,
all dilated pupils." Like she was really close enough to see his pupils.
She continues, "President Bush is all wrong, he [Howard Dean] says:
wrong on the economy, wrong on the environment, wrong on health care and
affirmative action and peace and justice for all." Wonder why she added
the "peace and justice for all" bit. This thing is starting to read like
some Maureen Dowd Column on Bill Clinton.
She also tries desperately to make Howard Dean out as some Blue Blood
ascot-wearing millionaire. "Howard Brush Dean III, 54, a Park
Avenue-bred medical doctor, is the Democrats' angry Everyman, heading to
Washington to make things right." What is she supposed to mean by "Park
Avenue-bred," and "Democrats' angry Everyman." Like Bush was born the
son of a toothless sharecropper or is somehow an obvious populist-the
very wealthy are people too.
She also comments on his lack of prospects as a candidate: "Dean's
passionate, bare-fisted pounding at the Washington power structure is
obviously working, at least for now." What is she implying, "at least
for now" like in a couple of months he'll be out of the campaign or
something. She even manages to disparage Dean's height, calling him "the
shortish (about 5-foot-8) contender." If anything dean is of average
height. The funniest part of the article is when she comments on Dean's
diplomatic skills, saying "...a few more choice words on his part, and
critics will be questioning whether Dean has the diplomatic skills
needed to be the leader of the free world." Excuse me; I wasn't aware
George W. got an 800 on the Verbal part of his SATs. I guess she
misunderestimated George W's verbal skills. I'm sure those critics will
nail Dean to the wall for his undiplomatic abilities. Why, he might even
think that the UN is somehow, dare I say it, a rubber stamp.
When she comments on Dean's Meet the Press interview, "he fumbled on
some basic questions, such as the size of the military..." she neglects to
mention that Howard Dean said "As someone who's running in the
Democratic Party primary, I know that it's somewhere in the neighborhood
of one to two million people, but I don't know the exact number, and I
don't think I need to know that to run in the Democratic Party primary."
I didn't realize that the exact number of troops on active duty was
somehow a "basic question." Isn't that number classified anyway? In any
case Dean did correctly estimate the number as being "in the
neighborhood of one to two million" troops.
Then she starts questioning his background as the governor of a small
state. She refers to Vermont as "a one-area-code state." But Montana is
a "one area code state." Yet if its Republican governor had been running
for president, would she have summarized it as such? She describes Dean
as "confident enough to tell voters that if he could balance the budget,
provide almost universal health care and protect open space in Vermont
(pop. 609,000), he could do it for the whole country." As if he can't do
it for the whole country because Vermont (pop. 609,000) isn't Texas
(pop. 21,325,018), which Bush left in a total mess anyway. The press
would have known this had they asked him in 2000 like they were supposed
Then she begins to reveal Dean's upper-class roots. "Dean comes from
money-his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were investment
bankers; he summered in Sag Harbor, part of the Long Island playground
that includes the Hamptons, and went to Yale." I guess she's just a
hard-working muckraker, exposing the elite's abuse of the workingman.
Wait a second, wasn't Bush's father an oil tycoon who later became
president, and his grandfather a real Blue Blood who was senator from
Connecticut. Wait a second, didn't Bush go to Yale. I guess Bush isn't
the son of a toothless sharecropper after all. Notice how she says "he
summered in Sag Harbor, part of the Long Island playground that includes
the Hamptons." Let's face it, this must have been like 30 years ago or
something, back then "the Hamptons" was just farmland, with some beach
in front of it. In any case had he summered in Long Beach, California,
she would have written that it was a part of the country that included
Beverly Hills. About Vermont politics she writes, "entering politics
there was relatively easy." Bush must've had it real tough in Texas,
where your father has to be an oil tycoon so that you can be governor.
She even deftly exposes Dean's Vermont record as a fiscal conservative,
showing, again, her muckraking prowess. As governor "Dean was no
fire-breather. He insisted on balancing the budget above all else. He
went from being against the death penalty to supporting it in limited
cases. He refused to fund social programs without making sure the state
could pay its bills first." Wouldn't you know it, Dean "refused to fund
social programs without making sure the state could pay its bills
first." Thank God we have a Real Man in the Whitehouse, where the rich
will get their tax cut, even if we have to run record high deficits. She
thinks she's so smart for writing this. Like Vermont is a bed of Liberal
activism anyway. It's probably the most Libertarian state in the
country. It's sole representative, and one of its senators are
Independent. What was she thinking? That's not fair of me.
I should say that towards the end of the article she does redeem herself
somewhat, describing his wife, and his first entry into local politics.
It was creating a scenic bike-path that's close to his house. She also
goes onto describe his appearance in front of the California Teachers
Association. She writes: " 'I taught eighth-grade social studies for
three months,' [Dean] said, 'so I can personally say that I am the only
person running for the presidency of the United States that knows what
it's like to stand up without being able to go to the bathroom for five
"After 15 minutes, Dean told the audience he was going to
wrap it up. 'Awwww' pulsed through the ballroom."