Every stump speech Dean delivered last week during a breathless two-day barnstorm of 10 towns and cities spread over 10 counties ended with the same rousing exit line: "The biggest lie told to people like you by people like me at election time is that I can solve every problem in America. That's not true. But the truth is the power to change this country is in your hands, not mine."
On first glance Howard Dean looks like...a beautiful loser, a Dem Quixote. Another McGovern liberal waiting to be fed into the Republican woodchipper, soon to be reduced to a wet pile of well-intentioned pulp. A big, fat white canvas to be painted by the Republican spin guys as a tree-hugging, peace bear Birkenstock liberal who wants to let the sodomites marry.
Howard Dean is generating something no Democrat in recent memory has: excitement. Not just partisan cheerleading, but real honest-to-goodness shake-shit-up excitement.
In the last six months he's gone from nobody to the Guy to Beat.
He's pro-choice, but also pro-death penalty. He signed the civil union bill into law--after the State Supreme Court essentially left him no choice. He's been awarded an "A" by the National Rifle Association for his refusal to toughen Vermont's lax gun control regulations. And slowly but surely Dean achieved universal healthcare coverage for almost every child in Vermont. The statehouse press corps that covered him as governor openly admire his ability to know the pulse of the electorate without polling or focus groups.
"Howard Dean and the Great Middle, always in the same place," says a Burlington, Vt., reporter who covered him as governor. "And that's a gift."
There's a crucial difference between Dean and the insurgent ghosts of elections past.
None were this organized, this well-funded or this talked about this early in the election cycle. Dean's stated goal is to get the millions of Americans who don't vote back into the process. And the plan appears to be working.
Karl Rove is a smart man. A smart man in Karl Rove's shoes would be crapping himself right about now.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.