Thursday, January 22, 2004


Dean is being Muskied

The media are piling on Howard Dean for his passionate speech (and yelp) following his third place finish in Iowa. The San Diego Union Tribune sums up the conventional wisdom. I haven't picked a favorite candidate among the Democrats yet, but I think Dean's being treated shabbily. I remember how the press turned on Edmund Muskie in 1972 after he was said to be crying after someone attacked his wife. Muskie would have been a fine president, at least as good as Richard Nixon turned out to be in his second term. I thought that was unfair then, and I think this is unfair now. Dean, to be sure, is a very different kind of person than Muskie-- one can't imagine Dean as secretary of state, for example. But there are many kinds of successful presidents. I suspect the reason why we are getting the piling on is a combination of different factors and different interests, including the other candidates' desire to sink the person with the most money, the press's desire to make the Democratic nomination a genuine horse race, and the talk shows' discovery of a funny and effective way to portray Dean in a few broad strokes.

In 2000, the talk shows (and Saturday Night Live) portrayed Bush as well meaning but stupid and Gore as a robot. Both of these portrayals turned out to be inaccurate, particularly the portrayal of Bush, who has shown himself to be neither well-meaning nor stupid. On the contrary, for anyone with eyes to see, Bush proven himself to be ruthless, vindictive, and cunning. That is one reason why he has done so well.

UPDATE: The Miami Herald's Jim Morin puts things in perspective.


In case you never get a second chance: don't be afraid!" "And what if you do get a second chance?" "You take it!
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