Some readers have noticed that my Howard Dean banner to the left has gone on hiatus. I'd like to clarify before everyone has a cow over this.
It was not an easy decision. We've sunk a lot of time and money into his campaign - including dropping some serious coin to see him at a knock-'em-dead show at L.A.'s House of Blues a few months ago. And it may not even be permanent, but that doesn't make it any less painful.
I still like Dean. I would like to see Dean fix the campaign, refocus his message and get that message to the voters. But some stuff is going on right now which is making me call a big time-out. Most notably, the current message.
The Problem: In interviews and in new commercials, Dean has set his sights on John Kerry, making comparisons - rather, similarities - to George W. Bush in Kerry's voting record and policies. I'm not crazy about this new tactic. Simply stated, it's sending the wrong side-message about Dean...and it's Dean who's sending it.
The Rebuttal: Kerry (along with Gephardt and Lieberman) went after Dean in a big way late last year when their campaigns were lagging behind Dean in the polls. Dean protested to the DNC to keep the focus on the issues, not each other, with no results. Turnabout is fair play. Payback's a bitch. How does it feel?
My Rebuttal to the Rebuttal: It wasn't right when Kerry did it. It's not any more right for Dean to do it now. It's coming off as revenge and sour grapes. It's not flattering, especially when you combine it with the baggage Dean is carrying at this point in time. His recognizability factor in make-or-break Minnesota is about as high as you can get it - 99%, even higher than Kerry's - but he's second only to Sharpton in unfavorability. He still hasn't recovered from the Iowa shock.
The EASY answer is to keep supporting him and shout his name from the rooftops. The CORRECT answer is for the good doctor to let America know what he will do...not dwell 100% on what his opponent did or didn't do. He needs to spend more time defining who he is (because the media is doing it for him) - not defining Kerry as another George Bush.
Dean won me over with his passion and mission. NOBODY this election year is better at speaking from the heart than Howard Dean. His conviction and sincerity are unparalleled. But resorting to Kerry bashing is disappointing, whether or not Kerry is deserving of it. As I said, Dean on the attack is no less unappealing than when Kerry did it. He talked the talk brilliantly in the past. He needs to find that voice again and dwell on what we all agree on - the freeloader in the White House. Democrats are obviously are not agreeing with his anti-Kerry talk and it has to stop.
Until then, I urge all of us to support our party in general by donating to the DNC. Readers know I have my problems with Terry McAuliffe, but the money doesn't go to him. It'll go to the one thing that I'm certain we ALL want.
Bush. Finished. Gone. Out of there.
And when a candidate emerges who is deserving of the space, they'll occupy the vaunted left-column banner spot. Dean can very easily reclaim it. As I said - it's a time-out.
Your work is cut out for yourselves, fellas. I'll be watching.
Okay...let me have it.