Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

January 21, 2004

by J

Wellstoning of Dean

I said in a comment here that I don't really care about Dean's yawp the other night, and I don't. In context, it makes perfect sense (apparently Harkin had completely pumped up the crowd and was hooting and hollering before Dean came on, then the cameras rolled as Dean continued the pep rally). I don't think it has any political significance except that the media, well... the media is THE SUCK as a recent commenter here is wont to say.

Cheryl at Kos pulled a couple of comments out of thread at Atrios that explain what's happening here quite well.
Wellstoned: Having the press take down a populist, popular politician and cut off any political momentum that an emotional speech might create by ignoring the setting, the context and the crowd reaction, first quoting the opposition's meme that said emotion (in a POLITICAL SPEECH TO SUPPORTERS!?!? Oh, the HORROR!!) displayed an inappropriate level of emotion and then topped off with finding someone else to quote making a apology for creating the opposition's manufactured, overhyped negative reaction (this is the "Please don't hit me" apology/response Dems too often give that makes me insane). Once this cycle completes itself -- 24 hours seems to be enough time, a little less maybe -- begin quoting from people who bought the new spin: "I was always a loyal follower of [Wellstone/ Dean/Democrats], but after hearing about . . ."

Lather, rinse, repeat. Who's next?

And Atrios' response:

Yep. Exactly. It's rather sad. Oh well, 4 more years. I don't say that because I think we need Dean to beat Bush - I say that because of people on our side who are too stupid to realize they've been played. yet again.
Atrios, by the way, also said this about Dean's TerriblyFrighteningHockeyDadPepRallyMoment: "It is quite hilarious. Dean was having fun and deliberately going over the top and the yaawrl just emphasized that. But, the word from on high is that Democrats aren't allowed to make jokes."

Watching the Dems buy into media/RNC (too often they are one and the same) talking points and spin over and over again instead of standing up for core American values, speech, and democracy is becoming excruciating. For a refresher on how this Wellstoning works, go read Franken's chapter on it in Lying Liars. If you don't own it, just go to a library or bookstore and read it and never, ever talk to me about Howard Dean being "angry" again.

A commenter at BFA recently wrote:
Governor Dean should drop out of the race ASAP and lead a Vermont secession movement. That's right, secession. Under Bush, the US has passed the point of no return. It's going to come down to freedom-loving individual states to leave the corrupt Union. All of us who support Dean can pick up and move to Vermont and let Dean be the new Father of *our* Country.
I laughed. And then I thought, "You know..." Sigh.

You know?
Posted by J at January 21, 2004 08:50 PM

Well, I think invoking the much-missed Paul Wellstone's name here as a verb is going a bit far. I mean, it's not like it's the opposition's reaction that's driving this...it was my reaction, and everyone else I've spoken to about it. Dean was way, way, way over the top, and this wasn't just some random campaign stop in a day full of 'em - it was a crucial campaign moment which everyone knew was going to be televised. A very, very bad time to break out into Gollum-Dean, as the Daily Show might say.

In sum, I don't think this is some RNC-driven propaganda campaign - It's a terrible news cycle that Howard Dean brought on himself for giving one of the worst televised campaign speeches since Muskie. But he's still got the better part of a week to change the story...unfortunately, the newest NH poll is ugly, ugly stuff.

Posted by: Kevin at January 21, 2004 10:04 PM

My initial reaction watching it live was negative as well, but then I never liked the yelling, even when he did at the Califoria Democratic convention and he said he was tired of the fundamentalist preachers. Much better was "what I want to know..." at the National Dem convention. Not so good was "you have the power" yelled over and over at some big dinner in Iowa a couple of months ago. That said, anybody who feels Dean's outburst was enough to disqualify him should go to c-span.org and watch the whole event again. In context, and knowing what's coming, Dean comes off much better on second viewing. Hopefully the campaign will learn from this and separate the role of partisan cheerleader from that of the candidate. The campaign says they're listening. We'll see.

Posted by: harveyIL at January 22, 2004 09:09 AM

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
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

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
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

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

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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