Tuesday, December 23

Viewer Mail: Well, Team Dean?

Barry Champlain sends along this from today's NY Times:

Dean Rebuked for Statement Implying Brother Served in Military

Howard Dean came under criticism from an Iowa newspaper last weekend for an answer to a questionnaire in which he implied that his brother was serving in the military when he disappeared in Laos 29 years ago. His brother had been traveling in Southeast Asia as a tourist.

Asked by The Quad-City Times, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, to complete the sentence "My closest living relative in the armed services is," Dr. Dean wrote in August, "My brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead."

The brother, 23-year-old Charles Dean, whose apparent remains were recovered by a military search team last month in Laos, was classified as missing in action, along with other civilians captured or killed in the area during the Vietnam War. But Charles Dean never wore a uniform, and while some family members at times suspected that he was working as a spy, Dr. Dean said he never believed that.

His answer to the newspaper's question, published on Dec. 14 as part of a regular feature on The Quad-City Times's editorial page in which the Democratic presidential candidates respond to questions intended to probe their persona, drew complaints from readers and a rebuke from the newspaper's editorial board on Sunday. The editorial was circulated to a handful of reporters on Monday by a rival campaign.

Dr. Dean was asked about his answer by a reporter after a town hall meeting here on a day when he took aim at President Bush for what he called a "callous" refusal to press Congress for an extension of unemployment benefits.

"The way I read the question was that they wanted to know if I knew anything about the armed services from a personal level," he said. "I don't think it was inaccurate or misleading if anybody knew what the history was, and I assumed that most people knew what the history was. Anybody who wanted to write about this could have looked through the 23-year history to see that I've always acknowledged my brother's a civilian, was a civilian."

Mark Ridolfi, editor of the paper's editorial page, noted that the question had specifically asked about the armed services and said of Dr. Dean's reply, "It certainly is not an accurate response."

...This is the latest in a string of incidents in which Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who has drawn support with his blunt remarks, has attracted controversy with imprecise statements.
Sure, this is a classic case of parsing words to create a story. Here's Barry's concern - and it's a good one:

So let me get this straight: right-wing editor parses a statement, spins it to make Dean look like an asshole, writes an editorial about it, uses it as an opportunity to slam Dean's dead brother; Dean objects, New York Times' Jodi Wilgoren picks it all up and cites it as "the latest in a string of incidents in which Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who has drawn support with his blunt remarks, has attracted controversy with imprecise statements.".

You only have one little blog, BUT... this really needs addressing. One more thing: how in hell do we beseech the Dean people to stop answering all these charges with an EXPLANATION, and start using them as an opening for an ATTACK? They must know they're not gonna stop, for the duration? I thought Dean "gets it"?
I've forwarded this to DeanDefense.org - we'll see if anything comes of it. Otherwise, it does raise a good point. Dean's really trying hard to keep the discourse civil, but it's getting tougher and tougher.