Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Howard Dean Makes Controversial Comments

May26(June 8), 2005
Howard Dean has always been an outspoken political figure, a man never afraid to speak his mind and tell people exactly what he thinks. This is a trait that many politicians do not exhibit, and a trait that gained him many of his supporters (the zealous, “Deaniacs,”) during his failed presidential run in 2004. Unfortunately, in the world of Congressional power plays and in a country more polarized than at any other time since the Civil War, it is also a trait that frequently lands the chairman of the Democratic National Committee in hot water.
Recently, Dean angered a number of Right-Wing loyalists when he said that the Republican Party was a, “white Christian,” party. Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the GOP and a practising Jew, remarked dryly that, “a lot of folks who attended by Bar Mitzvah,” would be surprised that he heads a “Christian” party. Indeed, many Democrats are surprised to hear any Republican say the same thing.
While it is true that there are some minorities in the Republican ranks (among them Tom DeLay’s infamous lobbying cohort, Jack Abramoff and a rising number of Hispanics), Dean’s assertion is really not that far off base; the overwhelming majority of Republicans are still white Christians. As Dean has said, the Democratic Party is unquestionably the more diverse of the two. There was nothing wrong with this comment.
Dean, however, does have a penchant for hyperbolic rhetoric, and his next statement was unfair. He told a group of progressives that most Republicans, “never made an honest living in their lives.” While this was an ugly generalisation, it certainly pales in comparison to the outlandish statements made by one of the Right Wing’s must volatile proponents, Anne Coulter. Her vitriolic comments about minorities and liberals have led many moderates and virtually the entire progressive bloc to regard her at best as a hate-filled racist bent on stirring violence among the white populace and furthering the political divide in the country. Whatever his faults, Mr. Dean cannot be accused of that.
We live in a time of extremes, a time when suffocating political correctness is overcome only by bursts of white-hot enmity, loathing so intense that it is frightening. Howard Dean made a slip-up, and the political community should move on. It certainly should not take precedence over the pressing political issues facing us. As Mr. Dean has said, “This is a diversion from the issues that really matter: Social Security, an adequate job opportunity, strong public schools, a strong defence.” Both Republicans and Democrats need to realise that they are not little children whose feelings are hurt every time a colleague makes a comment they don’t happen to like. As adults, they do not require apologies when this happens. They agree to disagree, and they get back to business. Unless someone is so violently antagonistic that they are causing serious harm, they should not be put through the flames each time they open their mouth.

9 Comments:

Blogger AJStrata said...

I think you will find the problem not so much with saying the GOP is mostly white, mostly Christian, it is all the other statements he made which, when taken together, imply a pretty insulting picture of christians and whites. Please visit my site and see my post on this, I *think* this is where he has problems.

http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/91

I do think many conservatives are overplaying this, but then again if you look at how folks and democrat underground are responding I think you can see the ugly side of this.

Welcome to the Coalition, BTW!

12:34 PM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

Dean, however, does have a penchant for hyperbolic rhetoric (but) (b)oth Republicans and Democrats need to realise that they are not little children whose feelings are hurt every time a colleague makes a comment they don’t happen to like.

Absolutely correct sir! I joined the Rockridge Institute in order to get a better understanding of how to communicate across the divide of beliefs and world-views. As much as I enjoy Howard's extroverted personality, I really think he would benefit from such a program.

Either that or get Slick Willy to coach him.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Kobayashi Maru said...

Dean is playing into a dead-end notion, I'm afraid, in saying that the Democratic party is more diverse. Along axes of color and religion, perhaps, but certainly not in terms of ideas. If anything, the Republican party is a bubbling cauldron of ideas, some of which conflict with one another (libertarianism and evangelicism, xenophobia and JFK-style 'pay-any-price' missions abroad, etc.) The Democrat's diversity may look good in a photograph, but on every subject that matters, they are utterly homogenous - and therefore fragile.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Editor said...

I have to disagree with you there, Kobayashi. The very basis of the Democratic Party is dissent. When Congress met to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, a plethora of Democrats crossed party lines and voted with the right. This is to be expected in the progressive bloc. When seven Republican senators worked with Democrats to stop that maniac Bill Frist, the Right exploded with outrage.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Ranger03 said...

Both parties have dissent. The key distinction is from whence the disagreement comes. Among the right (not necessarily "Republican") it is over the validity of policy explicated from first principles. Among the left (not necessarily "Democrat") it is over what works, regardless of first principle as pragmatism is king.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Dean is playing to the angry Democrat and is getting traction. He knows that big Dem donors aren't going anywhere. He's not stupid, just a bit unhinged.

I have one bone to pick. As a life-long Democrat(now an Independent) I am well acquainted with the tactic of false comparison. Whatever you think of Ann Coulter, you can't draw comparisons between her and Dean. One is a paid pundit-monkey, the other is a party leader. One is freer to engage in hyperbole than the other. That's life.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

The Democrats the party of diversity? I guess--if you're going by skin color. But from an intellectual standpoint, the right is much more diverse: just read The Corner at NROnline. There are devout Catholics and agnostics; abortion absolutists and those less absolute; social conservatives and libertarians.

How many pro-life Democrats hold any position of power in their party?

And to shipwrecked: Surely the label "pragmatic" cannot apply to any party that continues to support such demonstrated failures such as the U.N., or "progressive" educational ideas that have ruined public education.

I really cannot see that Dean is doing anything to attract new voters to the Democratic party. Maybe they're playing a "good cop/bad cop" game--Dean comes across as a raving lunatic, which will make the '06 and '08 Demo candidates seem reasonable in comparison.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Rick Moran said...

Fact: 36% of republicans are black, hispanic, oriental or native american.

41% of Democrats are.

The statement by Dean was a slime, pure and simple. To try and put any other spint on it is unconscionable.

BTW - good writing...need to post more often if you can.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Minh-Duc said...

Nonsense. What Dean said was offensive. The target of his comment was not just the Republican leadership, but every registered Republican including myself who is an immigrant and a minority.

Dean is a nutcase and I reserve the right to call him a nutcase.

7:12 PM  

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