Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

September 10, 2003

by V

Two things Howard Dean should stop doing

In the debate last night, Dean did at least two things wrong.
Secondly, I'll tell you why I connect with African American audiences. I'm the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences. Black folks have heard lectures from white politicians for a long time. We always talk about race. White folks need to talk to white people in America about race.
Claims of exclusivity are strong stuff, and unless you're positive you can back it up, you shouldn't make them. The Edwards campaign in particular took exception to this remark, and I'm inclined to agree.

Safer (and fairer to others) would be, "Very few white politicians talk about...". You still make your point, and you don't get dinged right away by press release.

Second, he's got a pattern going that I don't like. In answering Chideya's question "What's your favorite song?" Dean said:
One you've never heard of, Wyclef Jean, "Jaspora."
That's fine by itself. But combine it with this exchange with Wolf Blitzer a couple of weeks ago:
DEAN: Well, we pay attention to a lot of people who are not simply along our own campaign -- former secretaries of state, national security advisers and so forth. We have a core group of people who I don't think most of your viewers would have heard of, people who worked in the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, people who worked in the State Department. On the military side, retired Marine General Commander Joe Hoar has recently signed on. So we have a good group of people who know what they're talking about, although I doubt your viewers would have heard of them.
BLITZER: Can you give us one or two more names?
DEAN: Probably not, because I probably ought to consult with them first. Ivo Daalder certainly, from the Brookings Institute, has been very helpful to us. Susan Rice has been helpful to us. But I don't think you know who those people are.
BLITZER: I know precisely who both of them are.
DEAN: You do know who they are, but your viewers may not.
If you don't think people will be informed enough to appreciate something you're about to tell them, it's OK to keep that to yourself.

Either they do know and you look patronizing (I'm sure plenty of people in the debate audience know who Wyclef Jean is), or they don't know and you've rubbed their nose in their ignorance, which nobody likes.

It's a lose-lose.

Please, just give your answers and don't speculate about your audience's knowledge base.
Posted by V at September 10, 2003 10:56 AM

I understand what you mean by the claims of exclusivity thing. But why does Dean have the responsibility of being so knowledgeable about every one else's positions?

We need to cut him some slack for this. Non-issue.

Dean is the most effective at addressing these issues, not jsut some sentence saying "I grew up in the South so I feel your pain" but actually has substantive things to say about these matters.

Go Dean!

Posted by: Chi at September 10, 2003 04:08 PM

why does Dean have the responsibility of being so knowledgeable about every one else's positions?

Because he's the one making the claim. No one's making him do it, he's saying the words on his own.

Chief Wiggum put it best: "Don't write checks your butt can't cash."

Blaming Edwards for calling him on it (as I see some people doing over at Daily Kos) is pretty backwards.

Posted by: V at September 10, 2003 04:43 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
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Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
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Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

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