Howard Dean
August 27, 2002 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Howard Dean Get to know that name because you will likely be hearing it often in the coming months. The Governor of Vermont is currently the only Democratic presidential contender who has officially declared his candidacy. He is gaining press nationally and internationally as a potential breath of fresh air on the American political landscape. An interesting mix of liberal populism and traditional conservative fiscal responsibility, he is known to rub colleges from both sides of the ideological spectrum the wrong way. Regardless of your opinion on his politics, do you think this man have a shot? Do the proverbial square pegs in the Democratic and GOP round holes ever stand a chance? Will the Bush and Gore juggernauts forever push differing ideas into the realm of third parties or is there room for descent from within?
posted by EmoChild (40 comments total)
Is it just me or have we been experiencing a low in spelling and grammar lately? Voices of "descent" please speak up.
posted by metaforth at 8:38 PM on August 27, 2002

Let it go, descent would not be picked up by Mefi's spell check feature, and its always easy to miss something when proofreading your own work unless you're a professional copyeditor.

As for Dean, I'm betting he'll get to the primary but be a non-factor.
posted by Stan Chin at 8:42 PM on August 27, 2002

Is it just me or have we been experiencing a low in spelling and grammar lately? Voices of "descent" please speak up.

Not to dissent, but the phrase "descent from within" in fact accurately describes the path of these two political parties.

Before 9/11 and some other curious recent events (like the amazing sight of grown humans falling all over themselves to chant "one nation, underdog" in harmony ), I didn't think either could get much lower.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2002

Never heard of this Dean character, but around town good ol' Dick Gephardt has been pressing the flesh and banking the cash. I'd give odds today that the Dem primary fight for the nomination will end up being between Gephardt and Gore, with Gephardt squeaking by and getting it. For VP, I dunno, Kerry maybe?

In any event, I think Gephardt is more than competent enough to whup GWB's ass in the fashion it was supposed to have been whupped last time around. He'll cream him at the debates, he'll pummel him with Ashcroftian shenanigans, and he'll basically make GWB look like the grimacing gladhandler he is.

If it had been a Cheney-Bush ticket, I could see Cheney giving Gephardt a bit of a tussle. But Bush is going to fold like a suckerpunched girly.
posted by UncleFes at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2002

Stan, Dean can very well be the Democrats' Alan Keyes in 2004, getting equal time in all the debates and shifting issues toward areas that will make Gore and friends mighty uncomfortable. If only Nader had done the same thing in '00, instead of run with a third party, he would have gotten much more positive PR.

Emochild, please watch the line breaks.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2002

Who wrote that opinion piece, Howard Dean's campaign manager?
posted by Beholder at 9:18 PM on August 27, 2002

The "Bush/Gore juggernaut" is more precisely the Neoconservative/New Democrat juggernaut. Personally, I wouldn't lump guys like Dean into the opposition to that juggernaut. Fiscal conservatism is an earmark of New Dems. Dean's just running for name value.

The only thing I can see that could impede the Bush/Gore juggernaut would be a McCain/Leiberman ticket, going off Bull Moose-style on Gore and the son of a drug lord.
posted by jbrjake at 9:22 PM on August 27, 2002

I'm just reluctant to get behind any Democrat right now. I was pulling for Bill Bradley in the 2000 primaries, and we all saw what happened when a real Democrat (anti-death penalty, pro-restrictions on handguns, stuff like that) without oodles of money tried to run. He got creamed.

Gephardt, Lieberman, Daschle - I just can't stand them. Watching them all line up with cute sound bites in response to the "under God" ruling made me want to gag. A quote from a recent Tom Tomorrow cartoon taken slightly out of context pretty much sums it up for me: "Senate Democrats offer a slightly watered-down alternative."

posted by UKnowForKids at 9:24 PM on August 27, 2002

You know what would make this contest interesting? A little friendly Metafilterian wagering...
posted by UncleFes at 9:25 PM on August 27, 2002

I'd be a lot more impressed if Howard Dean would just buy a text ad and help support Matt.
posted by SPrintF at 9:33 PM on August 27, 2002

Here's another article on Dean: Invisible Man.
posted by homunculus at 9:42 PM on August 27, 2002

Stranger things have happened. Did anyone ever think during Iraq round one (he says with all inevitability) that George Bush would be defeated?

In all my years of living across the lake from Burlington, I never heard a bad word about Dean in the local media, and I'd love to have a former doctor overhaul our health care system. If Gephardt becomes our only choice, I'd sooner vote for McCain. What ever happened to John Breaux throwing his hat in the ring?
posted by machaus at 10:43 PM on August 27, 2002

The DLC/New Left (progressive centrism) is the future of the Democratic party. Deal with it.

Whenever Bush is neck-and-neck with whoever gets the Democratic nod (I'm a Gore man myself, though I would vote for Dean or a rabid monkey as long as it's not Bush), he'll look for a new boogeyman to attack (wonder what the Iraqi casualty numbers will be like?).
posted by owillis at 12:11 AM on August 28, 2002

I've met Howard Dean and he seemed like a fairly down-to-earth kind of guy. He couldn't do a worse job than GWB and probably is a lot cleaner/more honest than the rest of the bunch in the Democratic party. He is also the closest thing to McCain in the upcoming election .. in fact a dream ticket would probably be a "bipartisan" ticket with McCain and Dean (not sure who gets the top spot).
posted by ssheth at 12:47 AM on August 28, 2002

CSPAN did their American Politics bit (I am a huge CSPAN-watching dork) with Dean this weekend. Aside from the shaking babies and kissing hands, he had an interesting piece to say about health care. We can blame insurance companies, or we can blame HMOs, or doctors' labor groups or we can ask ourselves if we honestly believe every hospital in the country must supply all sorts of extremely expensive and inefficient services that most patients don't even know exist. On the other hand, his universal child care program is a huge success and very popular.

I have a bad feeling that Gore is going to run again and Dean will be just like Bradley in '00. Dean will be (ah jeez, here's the prognostication) the guy with the right message for the climate but without enough contacts inside the party to get the nod. If Dean wins the primary -- a long shot at this point -- he could win the big one. His CV looks almost exactly like Clinton's at this point. Clinton was a national nobody til after the convention.

On CSPAN he advised a recent college grad to take a year to live as a ski bum in Vermont. It was one part complete sincerity, one part Vermont ski industry plug. Kind of charming, actually, like Bush's statement during a First 100 Days interview that he can't explain the feeling he gets walking into the Oval Office because he's not a poet.
posted by raaka at 1:30 AM on August 28, 2002

Uh-oh. Well, if we're doomed anyway, allow me to be the first: Deaner Deaner Deaner.
posted by dhartung at 5:36 AM on August 28, 2002

I saw the C-Span coverage too and was very impressed with the guy. I had given up on politics after the 2000 "election". I don't know enough about him yet to say he should be President, but seeing Dean gave me hope that I might find a candidate I could feel good about voting for.
posted by neuroshred at 6:02 AM on August 28, 2002

I think Gephardt is more than competent enough to whup GWB's ass

Really, Fes? Gephardt's always struck me as an amazing behind-the-scenes guy, but not very impressive on the stump. But that's just based on seeing him once and on the press stories I've read. More power to him if he really can whup GWB's ass.

This American Prospect article was the first I heard about Dean's candidacy. Haven't made up my mind. Dean's more fiscally conservative than I'd ordinarily look for in a candidate--but I can live with fair fiscal conservatism. On the other hand, he gets props for pushing the civil unions law and for being, perhaps, uniquely qualified on the issue of health care. Dean might not be my first choice, he's better than many possible candidates (I'm especially looking at you, Joe Lieberman) and not at all someone I couldn't vote for.

What sort of wager do you have in mind, Fes?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 AM on August 28, 2002

Howard Dean is a true leader. Against general nationwide public opinion, the man signed into legislation a bill that allows legal unions for gay folks. He's a trooper. I'd love to see a Dean candidacy thrive.

Unfortunately, I doubt it'll happen. The fact that he's supported legal gay union will already be a point or seven against him in the minds of many Americans. It will be a position he'll have to defend countless times on the national stage. He will be in a politically difficult position that will make it difficult for him to get past the primaries.

posted by NedKoppel at 6:42 AM on August 28, 2002

I dunno, I think the gay unions thing would only be a really huge negative among people who would never vote for a Democrat anyway.
posted by gimonca at 7:05 AM on August 28, 2002

" Against general nationwide public opinion, the man signed into legislation a bill that allows legal unions for gay folks. He's a trooper. I'd love to see a Dean candidacy thrive. "

I agree with Ned here...and I have to ask if it was it the will of his constituents? If the people who elected you to office to represent them don't agree, then right or wrong, you're not representing your constituents.

A lot of people already have problems with GWB "pushing an agenda" down people's throats, if a candidate doesn't represent "the people" then he doesn't have a chance. And unfortunately liberalism of any kind (far left, almost middle of the road, or extreme leftist) are not the views of most voting Americans.
posted by mkelley at 7:05 AM on August 28, 2002

Is that what I said? Damn.
posted by NedKoppel at 7:08 AM on August 28, 2002

Gephardt's always struck me as an amazing behind-the-scenes guy, but not very impressive on the stump.

He swings a pretty big stick, and he's been around awhile, and that counts for a lot. He's made half-hearted attempts at primary wins in the last few presidential elections, but once it became clear that the party wasn't going to give him the nod, he quietly went back to being one of the most powerful congressmen in the building. But he's a good speaker and debater, and has a lot of support. I think he'll get the nod this time - there's a lot of powerful dems who are still smarting from Gore botching what should have been a walk.

What sort of wager do you have in mind, Fes?

Some sort of paypal pool or something? Politics is way more fun when you're betting.
posted by UncleFes at 7:11 AM on August 28, 2002

...was it the will of his constituents?

mkelly, Dean was responding to a throw down from the Vermont Supreme Court. From the Invisible Man article homonculus linked above:

In 1999 the Vermont Supreme Court unanimously ruled that gay couples deserved the same legal rights of marriage--shared employer benefits, inheritances, child custody, etc.--as heterosexual couples. It was, in effect, an ultimatum: If the legislature and governor didn't give gays marriage rights, the court would do so itself. Though none too thrilled about the court's aggressive meddling in the lawmaking process, Dean threw his support behind a compromise--allowing gays to enter into "civil unions" with all the rights of marriage but not the name. When, after a grueling and anguished debate, the legislature passed a civil-union bill in the summer of 2000, Dean signed it. But while Dean hailed the law as "a courageous and powerful statement about who we are in the state of Vermont," he pointedly refused to hold a public signing ceremony, arguing that it might further divide the state.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2002

Uncle Fes, count me in, and my money's on Edwards.

Dean seems like a great guy, but will be painted as an ultra-liberal socialist (even though he's not!) because of the civil unions and healthcare. Maybe as Veep?
posted by amberglow at 7:58 AM on August 28, 2002

Your money's on Edwards? Oh man, let me in on this!
posted by Dean King at 8:15 AM on August 28, 2002

Hey guys, Dean's Vermont country baked ham serves 16, and you can make gravy out of the cider raisin drippings.
posted by sp dinsmoor at 8:20 AM on August 28, 2002

Your money's on Edwards? Oh man, let me in on this!

Yeah Dean King--don't ever underestimate the power of a handsome face...and the DLC won't let Gore or Lieberman win, so....who's left?
posted by amberglow at 8:46 AM on August 28, 2002

oops, I meant to add after handsome face ..."with the voting public (and me too!)"
posted by amberglow at 8:47 AM on August 28, 2002

Nope Ned, sorry I was quoting the same thing you were.

On the quote that Ursus posted, it's good that he doesn't want to divide the state. States rights after all. But concerning the court, why not put it on the November ballot? I mean I can sit here and "armchair quarterback", but voting is the only real solution.
posted by mkelley at 8:55 AM on August 28, 2002

As a voting Vermonter and Dean supporter, I can only offer support for the man. He's taken a ton of heat from conservatives for some of his initiatives, but he's survived their assaults and spent the last 11 years in the Governor's office. Grace under pressure, great public speaker, and a supporter of government provided (or at least assisted) health care for children. He's got my vote.

But I still don't think he has a chance.
posted by brand-gnu at 9:03 AM on August 28, 2002

amberglow, I have mixed feelings about Edwards. I don't think he's well-known or experienced enough to make a successful bid, so I'd rather that he concentrate on representing NC. It just surprises me when I hear that folks are taking him seriously as a presidential candidate. I think he's trying for too much too soon. (But I'm with owillis on the rabid monkey candidate.)
posted by Dean King at 9:36 AM on August 28, 2002

An acquaintance of mine--an absolute Gore junkie--met Edwards last spring on an Amtrak train. They chatted briefly, and my acquaintance left convinced that Edwards is destined for the White House. I wasn't convinced. Edward's lucrative career as a personal-injury lawyer looks like a big handicap--the GOP'll immediately call him a million-dollar ambulance chaser--and his southern charm and populist rhetoric will make it easy to caricature him as just another Clinton. For all that, I don't know why Edwards doesn't deserve a chance to run. Why not a Edwards/Dean (or Dean/Edwards) ticket?

Betting's a tough call. From here Gore--unfortunately--still looks like an odds on favorite to me so I'll put 10 unimaginative bucks on Gore.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:36 AM on August 28, 2002

And unfortunately liberalism of any kind (far left, almost middle of the road, or extreme leftist) are not the views of most voting Americans.

So 'most voting Americans' on the sliding scale (or political compass, if you like) are closer to the bunch of God-bothering warmongers you've got now? Or just that it's harder for the left to fool the public into thinking they're 'bipartisan'?
posted by riviera at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2002

i first heard of Howard Dean here. He does sound pretty damn good in comparison to most of the other politicians in the dems, and i'll have to agree with john stewart, the real party politics now aren't dems vs republicans as much as the middle vs the extremes. I'm going to hope for the best...and then just vote NOT BUSH anyway.
posted by NGnerd at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2002

Dean, I loved this from your link:
One criticism of Edwards is that he talks centrist but votes liberal

First, that's right up my alley--I care about someone walking the walk; not just talking the talk...
And I think that's exactly what it takes to get into the white house nowadays--Bush talked centrist when he was running--Gore too, even Clinton both times...
The experience thing is not such a deterrent anymore...and people don't want an old man (see Dole, daddy Bush, etc)

and don't forget how cute he is ; >
posted by amberglow at 10:15 AM on August 28, 2002

He sounds like the anti-Duhbya... that's good!

Personally, I was just plain stunned by Bush's complete avoidance of the gay union question during the debates. I think his response was something like "I respect the sacred vows between a man and a woman." Through my Shithead-MediaSpinner Filter (tm) that roughly translates to "fuck off, gays, your relationships don't mean shit to me."

I am really glad to see someone who a) actually understands the issue and b) has already made the right decision. My question is, what percentage of voting America is still homophobic enough to have this freak them out? I fear it's larger than we would suspect.
posted by zekinskia at 11:08 AM on August 28, 2002

No riviera, I believe most American voters are moderates. But what we deal with are "yellow dog" democrats & republicans who vote for someone based on part affiliation...Cynthia McKinney aside.

As far as the homophobia issue, I also believe that more people are homophobes than they would have you believe. I have friends who are "left leaning", vote Dems every chance they get & who were raised by liberal parents, who are homophobic...more so than I was despite my conservative upbringing (my family would freak if they knew about some of my friends).
posted by mkelley at 12:20 PM on August 28, 2002

Most Americans are moderates. This trend will continue. I can't understand why people can't see this when the data repeatedly says so.

Kerry/McCain: It might be nice (I'm not as enthralled with McCain as other Dems seem to be) but the sheer force of ego would cause an implosion. Gore can certainly do better than Lieberman, maybe Kerry?
posted by owillis at 2:39 PM on August 28, 2002

Most of america is not only homophobic, but racist too (at least in some part, hell i've seen it in myself). Otherwise we would probably have powell as a president as his wife wouldn't fear for his life if he did run for president.

The good news is that eventually old people die and their memes trail off with them. We have a hell of a long way to go, but we've made some good progress for a generation or two.
posted by NGnerd at 3:54 PM on August 28, 2002

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