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Dean of the Debate
by A.M. Siriano
28 October 2003Metrosexual

Howard Dean, metrosexual, smugly stood, stiff as a board, against the opposition, and walked away, stiff as a board, knowing he had not been damaged.


Forcing oneself to listen another Democratic candidates’ debate is like taking blows to the head with a hammer in one-minute intervals. One comes away wondering whether a stint in an insane asylum might be more instructive.

Sunday’s debate, which involved all nine candidates, wasn’t nearly as interesting or funny as the last one, thanks to the absence of hecklers. But it was a bit more vicious, mostly because of the first-time appearance of Wesley Clark and because of the growing threat of Howard Dean.  At the beginning the responses to all questions were attacks on President Bush, until Joe Lieberman, being the underdog for his support of the war, lashed out at John Edwards, John Kerry and Wesley Clark:

I don’t know how John Kerry and John Edwards can say that they supported the war but then oppose the funding of the troops who went to fight the war that the resolution that they supported authorized.  I’ve been over Wes Clark’s record and statements on this so many times.  I heard him tonight.  He took six different positions on whether going to war was the right idea.

Now we were getting somewhere!  Naturally that “somewhere” was nowhere, but it was fun just the same.  After numerous rebuttals, in which both Kerry and Clark defended a no vote on Bush’s $87 billion Iraqi fund and advocated an “out of harm’s way” strategy in Iraq (presumably, to leave, for how else does one wage a “safe” war?), the unlikelies -- Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun, and Dennis Kucinich -- demanded more air time.  “Believe it or not, much of this has been in rebuttal action and not actual formulated questions,” offered questioner Carl Cameron of Fox News as an excuse for ignoring them.  “Just ’cause nobody’s mad at us,” quipped Moseley Braun.

Moderator Gwen Ifill of PBS was cool and professional, but did little to keep the candidates from overrunning their time limits.  Carl Cameron asked the most difficult questions, and took some heat for his troubles, but remained objective throughout the proceedings, while the other questioner, distinguished Detroit personality Huel Perkins, could not resist the urge to get his digs in about the Rush Limbaugh fiasco, thus revealing his partisanship.  But overall the questioning was more negative than the last debate, involving accusations of wishy-washy voting records and remarks, and attempting to pin down specific plans to replace the “failures” of George W. Bush.

With the exception of Dennis Kucinich, who has been consistently nutty from the start, and whose plan for America is to create a socialist welfare state that just says no to war, no candidate offered an inkling of what his or her proposed administration would do differently -- other than to do nothing at all.  Well, that’s at least two points for Kucinich that none other got!  If this were the measure for who won the debate, this former trolling car-dweller turned statesman was the clear winner.

The measure, as usual, was not what anyone said, which had no substance whatsoever, but what they didn’t say to take down the frontrunner, Howard Dean.  Dean smugly stood, stiff as a board, against the opposition, and walked away, stiff as a board, knowing he had not been damaged.  Sharpton, Kucinich, and Moseley Brown didn’t much concern themselves with Dean, which wasn’t surprising; if anything can be said of these candidates, they are straight shooters, albeit at the wrong target, and they care little about playing games (even when Sharpton called the others “elephants that are wearing donkey jackets,” it was not so much of an attack as it was what he truly believes).  The rest attacked, but with little effect.  Why no dent in Dean’s armor?  What has gone wrong?

Dean has deftly taken the Democratic party to the far left, but not so far as to appear outlandish or screwy.  The Dems, feeling lost in Bush’s scary conservative world, have responded to Governor Dean’s call, defying reason that would demand a move to the center.  They can’t be pure pacifists like Kucinich, with his goofy plans to create a “Department of Peace,” but they do believe that a U.N.-led diplomacy can eliminate the need for war.  On the home front they are against all intrusions into personal privacy and think John Ashcroft is the devil.  They don’t want anyone to blow them up, of course, but they view terrorists as freedom fighters, not enemies, thanks to U.S.-imposed poverty and “bad governance” (Gephardt).  If we would just feed them, they think, all this nasty terrorist business will go away.

In the economic wars, they don’t like impartial tax cuts, but favor instead the merry Democratic dream of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.  Dean is all for repealing the tax cuts, which will go back to the people anyway, he believes, via entitlements, and he’s all for increasing taxes against the evil rich and their Nottingham-like corporations.  Plus he insists that Washington must “be free of special interests,” which always sets a nice tone as long as one doesn’t have to answer how.  Jobs are no issue with Dean, for they can simply be created arbitrarily by “needful” big government programs.  Pour in the money, is Dean’s message, and he’ll make everything better.

It all sounds great to Democrats, who never seem to concern themselves with details or to challenge the countless misleading statements and lies used by their pathetic manipulators.  Whenever the candidates were asked what they would do specifically to remedy the supposed terrible situation America is in, they skirted the question altogether.  Armed with the usual empty phrases, references to humble beginnings and quotes lifted from Black History Month calendars, they could only assure us that they had the goods to rebuild America.

I personally urge all Democrats to stick with their gut feelings and support Howard Dean.  Keep ignoring the fact that the economy is growing -- slowly, yes, but steadily, so that by 2004 you will no longer have this bullet in your arsenal.  Keep ignoring the fact that the War on Terror is being won, and that no one really believes your candidates can be tough on terrorists.  Keep telling Arab-Americans and the Iraqi people that they were better off with Saddam still in charge.  Keep telling Israel that the Palestinians are their friends, even as they blow up another bus loaded with innocent people.

In fact, just keep ignoring mainstream America altogether, whose hard-working people are tired of the pinko-progressive Left’s assault on the Constitution, its desire to take their money and give it to do-nothing losers, tired of its war on traditional values, its anti-religion agenda, and its conciliatory, sycophantic tones -- epidemic during the Carter and Clinton years -- that were rightly perceived as weakness by the enemy and led to 9-11.

Yes, give Dean a chance.  Long after the lunatics are off the stage, it will be interesting to revisit his liberal positions during Bush’s next four years.

A. M. Siriano is a DBA/web developer by day and writes for his own website, amsiriano.com, by night
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