This past week has been a pain to watch as far as politics. Earlier this year I contributed for the first time to a political campaign – that of the good doctor from Vermont, Howard Dean. I still think he’s gonna win – and my Uncle George will have to pay up that dollar he wagered back in August. But the flag flap (via rc3) is unnerving for a few reasons –
First — it seems now that Dean is becoming something more like a politician. His assertions at first that he wasn’t wrong were honest, from the heart statements. I could recognize – knowing his past use of the flag in his speeches – that he had simply misspoke. But on such a divisive issue – one has to carefully arrange your words so as not to offend. Unfortunately – the campaign took that careful arrangement and scripted out two ensuing statements that obviously weren’t coming straight from the candidate himself. There was something forced in Dean’s apologies…Something that revealed the behind the scenes machine — as he made the news broadcast circuit – and gingerly addressed the issue…
Second – As John Edwards said something to the effect of – The last thing the South needs is someone like you coming down and telling us what to do. – Edwards hit upon a key weakness I see in the Dean campaign. Having gone to see Dean over at the old alma mater, I was a little unnerved when he remarked something along the lines of – they say a Yankee can’t win in the South. Who’s this Yankee coming down here and – yada yada yada. The truth is – I hadn’t heard anything quite as trite. I know the South is switching over, horrificly so, to a Republican standing — but I hadn’t heard anything as base as the Yankee idea…Sure, the remarks were somewhat tongue in cheek – but that’s part of the problem. Dean doesn’t seem to have a grasp of what the South is. I’m not gonna claim that I have an inkling of a clue either…I’ve only lived here 14 years — and I’m still a Yankee…I have an Uncle who, after the Atlanta boom of the 1980′s, refused to go further north than Atlanta because of all the damn yankees. He recently moved from Macon to Valdosta – because – well — I don’t want to say because Macon had become too northern – as it probably was work related – but I’m sure he would probably agree to the former as well.
Anyhow — there is a certain feeling of the South that is difficult to put your finger on — a history, an emotion, I don’t know what it is — and Dean doesn’t seem to have control over that finger yet. Instead of resting it on the pulse of the people here – he seems to be waggling it in front of their faces in a condescending manner. Ultimately that is what is going to get this campaign into trouble…Dean seems to be coming off lately as someone who is speaking at the people, rather than with them.
Third – The other candidates are gonna take every possible jab at Dean when he provides an opening, and Dean is going to provide plenty of openings with his off the cuff remarks. I’m not saying I want to see him reel in his tongue — that is part of his appeal – that is what got him on the map – when he went off on his “What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the president’s unilateral attack on Iraq” speech, I was on the wagon. You could see Dean get angry at the Rock the Vote forum — when he called out Edwards, “No, I wasn’t John Edwards.” That first and last name thing was hot. When he went on this apology circuit – that was not. There are several catch-phrases Dean is employing on this campaign – the one I’ve heard most often is “Ken Lay and the boys.” Nothing wrong with catch phrases. But please don’t turn this into fodder for SNL. I guess I’m just worried about seeing another puppet out there – at least it’ll be a puppet for the people…
$26 $126 into this campaign so far…I don’t want to be disappointed.