It's not that he's wrong, precisely.
But I'm thinking that a whole lot of people are beginning to wish that Howard Dean would just shut the hell up for a week or two.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday defended his recent harsh criticism of Republicans, including his observation that they are "pretty much a white, Christian party." Dean noted that he, too, is a white Christian. But he said the GOP is too narrow in its scope and the Democratic Party is far more diverse.
While even prominent Democrats in recent days have distanced themselves from some of his comments, the outspoken Dean, appearing on NBC's Today show, said criticism of him is meant by Republicans to divert attention from the country's problems and make him the issue instead Dean told a forum of journalists and minority leaders Monday that Republicans are "not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party." Challenged on that during the NBC interview, Dean said "unfortunately, by and large it is. And they have the agenda of the conservative Christians. This is a diversion from the issues that really matter: Social Security, and adequate job opportunity, strong public schools, a strong defense," Dean said....
So the one thing is ... yes. He's quite right. The Republicans are pretty much a white Christian party.
The problem is that this is, still, pretty much a white, Christian country. While the Democratic party is more diverse, it, too, is pretty much a white, Christian party because that's just the way the country is. And that sort of comment is going to alienate conservative white Christian Democrats -- yes, there actually are some -- who may feel that the unstated message is "get OUT of our party!" And the plain fact is, he knows that the Republicans will be making him the issue until they have a candidate -- or set of primary candidates -- to villify instead. He knows that he's in for another year or two of this. And given the way that he got kicked out of the primaries, he knows that what he says and does will be blown out of proportion. And yet he went ahead and gave them this golden gift that they don't have to even tinker with. They can just attack his words, and his defense of them, as they stand.
Does the Democratic party need to be more progressive and more liberal? Probably. This country has lacked a true liberal left for well over 20 years now, since "liberal" became a dirty filthy curse word. Is Dean the man to help make the Democrats more progressive and more liberal? Possibly. Those are his politics, after all, and he was effective at getting young people and progressives and liberals fired up about politics, before his yell of self-destruction. Regarding the actual substantive point of Dean's talk, before it got sidetracked into the white Christians abyss: has the Republican hierarchy steadily, steadfastly, thoroughly and comprehensively betrayed working class Americans not only to benefit the wealthy monied classes, but also in favor of a social agenda that covertly attacks minorities and hides the fact that the social agenda distracts from the pro-wealthy agenda? Well, hell, yes! And that he would, and could, say that is good, and he needs to keep saying that, in ways that working class people will listen to.
Could the Democrats use a party chair with, you know, the brains god gave a goose and a reasonable amount of political savvy? Or, to put it more kindly, wouldn't it be nice if Dean thought -- really thought -- before he spoke?
Oh, hell, yeah.Posted by iain at June 08, 2005 10:53 AM