[Image courtesy of the one and only SM from Tampa.]
Howard Dean was on the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” on Thursday afternoon. What he had to say was both fascinating and revealing. I hope you will all listen to the entire interview. It is only about 16 minutes long. Here are the parts I found most striking.
Question: How much credit do you claim for what happened [Obama’s win]?
Dean: Well, we claim some. It helps to have an extraordinary candidate….Well whoever is alive now is going to be able to say that 2008 was the most important election of their lifetime no matter how many elections they go through.
Wait a minute. So no matter how many elections a person lives through, from now on this will always be the most important election? Even if a woman is elected President? Based on the treatment that both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin experienced this year when they ran for President and Vice President respectively, I’d have to say that a woman would clearly have a much harder time getting elected President than any man, regardless of ethnicity or skin color. I’d say if a woman overcame what happened this year and became President sometime in the next 40 years, that would be pretty darn historic and unforgettable. Let’s go further: what if the woman who finally managed to break the glass ceiling were Latino, Asian, or African American? Wouldn’t that be pretty important? What if a gay person were to be elected President someday? That would be pretty amazing and unlikely, wouldn’t it? I think Howard Dean needs a bigger imagination.
Dean: They [Obama campaign] had the best team that I’ve ever seen run a campaign on the Democratic side….There were no leaks, there was no drama, people got along, there was extraordinary discipline. So [laughs derisively] when you have that for a campaign, it makes a big difference.
No leaks? No drama? Is he serious? What about the campaign memo that listed all of the Clinton’s “racist” behavior? What about the leak of the “bitter, clinging” audio and then video? And there was drama aplenty every time anyone dared to ask for the tiniest bit of information about Obama’s background. He was shocked, shocked! when Hillary dared to ask about Tony Rezko. And when George Stephanopolous brought up Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers….OMG! It was high tragedy for Barack. Being confronted about Ayers was so painful for him that he was forced to give Hillary the finger and brush her off his shoulders and shoes in public in order to deal with the agony of it all.
This is the part of the interview that interested me most:
Dean: The first calculation we made was that…the road to the White House leads through the West. We didn’t know we were going to have a candidate like Barack Obama who could win in Florida and Ohio. So we decided we would find a way to win without Florida and Ohio; and the solution was that Nevada, Arizona–we didn’t know we were gonna have Senator McCain either, so Arizona was on the table–New Mexico, Colorado…Montana. If we could win those states, then we wouldn’t have to win Florida and Ohio.
Please. I just don’t buy this. Howard Dean and the rest of the DNC knew perfectly well that Hillary Clinton was going to be running in 2008. They knew she could carry Florida and most likely Ohio. If she were a possible nominee in their minds, they wouldn’t have necessarily had to use a Western strategy. Instead they would have expected to win West Virginia, Arkansas, and perhaps Kentucky and Tennesee. In fact, they deliberately invalidated the votes of Florida and Michigan Democrats in order to hobble Hillary’s campaign and give Obama a better chance to win. Furthermore, we know now that Dean turned over the apparatus of Democracy for America to Obama and provided staff and techniques for the Obama camp trainings. Of course the NPR interviewer never asked about any of that.
In answer to callers’ questions, Dean shared the following opinions:
Dean: President-elect Obama, his campaign believes in empowering people. That’s what their campaign was all about. That’s what we believe in at the DNC….First of all, they [Obama campaign] have pretty much controlled the workers of the DNC since the day he became the nominee, in June sometime. I have confidence in these folks. I’ve worked side by side with them….”
But why was Obama put in charge of the DNC workers in June (the coup happened on May 31, didn’t it?) But Hillary only suspended her campaign; she didn’t concede. Why was Obama allowed to move the entire DNC to Chicago and pull staff and money out of state organizations when he could still have lost to Hillary at the Convention if Dean and his minions hadn’t intimidated the superdelegates into choosing Obama? Even after all that, Hillary might still have won an honest roll call vote.
Dean: One of the things that is remarkable about President-elect Obama is that he is a “new generation” candidate. He really is. He’s 47 years old, and the “new generation” really cuts off at 35. But he thinks like one of these new generation folks.
In other words, Obama is an immature, inexperienced man who thinks like someone 12-20 years his junior? Uh huh. Forgive me if I don’t see that as a strong qualification to be President.
Dean: And what they say, among other things, is let’s unite the country and focus on the things that we can work together on and not keep focusing on the things we disagree on. And one of the byproducts of that, I believe, is that the placement of people on the political spectrum and the verbiage that goes with it is gonna become obsolete. I don’t think that most young people think of themselves as conservatives or liberals or centrists…Evangelicals, for example, under 35–here’s their top three issues: 1) poverty, 2) climate change, and 3) Darfur. Well…are those liberal issues or conservative issues? I don’t think you’d wanna say young Evangelical Christians are liberals….
So I think this talk of centrism and conservatism and where you are and liberalism and all that stuff–I think that’s obsolete with the new generation. I think they’re issue focused, and I think they’re caring focused, and I think they’re unity focused. And I don’t think they’re particularly partisan….It turns out they voted 66% with the Democrats in the last election, but I think that’s because our message resonates…our message of inclusion, working together in unity resonates so much better with them than the divisive messages you saw on the other side.
This mealymouthed “unity” message was Obama’s all along. If the DNC were really neutral, wouldn’t they have just let the candidates try to sell their various messages rather than making sure the DNC echoed Obama throughout the primaries?
I guess when Dean refers to “the new generation,” he is talking about Generation Y, AKA the Millennials. I don’t know if he is correct that these younger voters don’t care about ideology, but I do know that they didn’t make up a large proportion of the votes cast for the Democratic candidate this year. According to Pollster.com, first-time voters made up the same proportion of voters as in 2004–11%. There really is no way to know if Millennials will continue to vote Democratic–especially if they don’t vote on ideas and values (ideology), but just on specific issues, as Dean claims.
When the interviewer drew a comparison between Obama and Joe Lieberman and claimed that Obama is very liberal, while Lieberman is a centrist, Dean replied:
Dean: Joe really is a centrist….He’s also a polarizing figure. His rhetoric was very polarizing. So here you have a centrist moderate who’s a polarizing figure. Now whether Barack is a liberal or not I’ll leave up to the pundits…But he is a unifier. He’s not a polarizing figure at all. No matter where you think he is on the political spectrum, Barack Obama is not a polarizing figure. So here you have a so-called centrist who is a polarizing figure; and then you have a so-called liberal who is not a polarizing figure. That’s the difference between the old politics and the new politics…we’re gonna see a lot more of that. I think you’re gonna find it impossible to say where Barack Obama belongs on the political spectrum; and people my age will be be very upset about it. People his age will think it’s great.
Dean doesn’t make it clear whether in talking about “people his age” he means those approaching 50 or those under 35 whom Obama supposedly “thinks like.” Anyway, maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t help seeing the discussion of Lieberman being “a polarizing figure” as actually making the comparison that was often made during the primaries: Hillary = polarizing; Barack = unifying.
I really think that Dean has confirmed in this section of the interview that Obama was the DNC’s hand-picked candidate all along. They apparently wanted a candidate who was so vague that no one could ever tell where he stood on anything. And we couldn’t tell! And now Dean seems to be telling us than when he becomes President, we will not know where Obama stands either.
Next a caller says all she heard 18 mos ago was “Hillary Hillary Hillary.” But she is so happy that it ended up great “with a unifying President-elect. She wants to know if the DNC pushing a candidate from the beginning.
Dean: We never push a candidate ever. I was the referee. Around last May when the campaign was at it’s hottest point–I think all the Hillary people thought I was with Obama, and all the Obama people thought I was with Hillary. It’s our job to stay neutral…We wanna give everyone a chance…. There has to be one place in the Party where everyone feels that they will be treated fairly. And that is meant to be the Democratic National Committee….We work behind the scenes to make sure everyone gets a fair shake.
Ha ha ha ha ha hahahahahaha!!!!! I guess that’s why Howard never told the media to stop screaming at Hillary to get out of the race. I suppose that’s why Howard started in February telling superdelegates they had to choose a candidate–right now!!
Finally a caller from Indiana talks about the Florida and Michigan primaries. He says the Republicans moved the dates and DNC said their votes wouldn’t count. What if the Republicans sabotage the process again? Will the DNC “fall prey to their little scheme again and they’ll be laughing all the time.”
Dean: We actually didn’t say we won’t count the votes. We said we’d like you to adopt a process within the rules. And then the states didn’t want to do that and there was a big flap about it which ultimately got resolved [….] If you change the rules in the middle of the game, it’s not fair to one of the candidates. You can’t do that.
I see. I have to say, that is one of the sleaziest, slimiest, most dishonest and even ludicrous lying lies I’ve ever seen. In fact, I found this entire interview to be incredibly dishonest.
I’d love to hear other Conflucians react to Dean’s clownish comments. Apparently he thinks no one was paying attention to the actual tactics that the Obama campaign used or the shocking way that the DNC enabled Obama’s nomination by stealing votes from Florida and Michigan voters and from the voters of all the states that Hillary Clinton carried.
Sorry, Howard. We pumas were paying attention.
UPDATE: In response to all the snide comments about this post being a complete downer, here is some material to aid the mocking of Howard Dean.