Monday, April 25, 2005

Dean Doing Republicans a Favor

The Washington Post has a story today that reminds me of the old adage: "The Inmates are running the Asylum." Since Howard Dean was elevated(demoted?) to the position of Chairman of the DNC in February 2005, he has displayed a knack for inserting Tab A (his foot) into Slot B (his mouth). In a real sense, he has been helping the Republicans more than he has been helping his own party. Although he has demonstrated these tendencies in the past, they have been on parade as of late:

Since taking over as chairman of the Democratic National Committee earlier this year, the former presidential candidate has been quoted in newspapers making unusually caustic remarks about Republicans.

Dean has suggested that they are "evil." That they are "corrupt." He called them "brain-dead" during a stop in Toronto -- and while the Terri Schiavo case was still in the news. He has tagged Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) as a "liar." Last week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that he mimicked a "drug-snorting Rush Limbaugh" at an event there.

The Democrats and the mainstream media seem to be more than willing to help Dean in his quest, intended or not, to destroy the party's image:

"You don't want a wallflower for a party chairman," one Senate Democratic aide said. Dean's remarks have not attracted much attention in the national media, in part because he has focused largely on local and regional news outlets since taking the party's helm in February.

While it may be true that "you don't want a wallflower to lead the party", you probably shouldn't have someone on the opposite extreme leading it either. The only people he is appealing to with his over-the-top rhetoric are those who are already on board and those who simply don't know any better. That isn't a very effective way to build the party structure.

As for the media, they want to push the message that "Dean's remarks have not attracted much attention in the national media." The fact is, Dean has attracted a lot of attention with his comments, but the mainstream media chooses to under report or ignore anything that casts the Democratic Party in a bad light. The news is being reported, it just isn't being reported by them.

With the advent of the internet, and more recently the blogosphere, the media does not have the same monopolistic control over information they have enjoyed in the past and as a result, the truth comes out, and it does so at lightning speed. They no longer have the luxury of deciding what they want the American public to know about, nor the ability to shape the news to fit their own agendas.

While the Democratic Party attempts to rally around Dean, the media tries to perform damage control for the party by attempting to keep the ridiculous statements he makes out of their news stories. Neither side will admit it, but it's been in the playbook for years. The difference today is that other news sources, including the internet and bloggers, are now calling their bluff.

Whether Dean realizes it or not, he is taking both the Democratic Party and the mainstream media in directions neither can afford to go, and by doing so, he is helping the Republicans far more than he is helping his own party. Here's hoping they don't figure it out!

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