Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Deanyaanisqatsi...

Well. Just got back (well, when I started writing this, anyway...) from Howard Dean's appearance at the Church Brew Works here in Pittsburgh, and it was a most excellent time, I must say. The food was good, the company was excellent - I sat at a table with both a fellow Liberal Drinker and a fellow Atriot (spork_incident, who I found to be a charming and erudite companion - I think Hoyt stopped by our table briefly as well, but he didn't recognize us, and I wasn't sure enough to say anything) - and El Medico Dean was fired up and brought lots of red meat, and he hit almost every possible target.

Money line of the night was early: "The Republicans have brought a culture of corruption to Washington," and he hammered at an overarching theme that the Democrats are the party with real morals and convictions. Some other noteworthy highlights, not necessarily in any kind of order, including chronological:

  • He challenged Bush to fire Rove, and show that he values the cover and safety of an undercover agent working for our security more than he values protecting a loyal crony and political operative.
  • He took a swipe at Santorum, referring to him as one of Virginia's senators, and also pointed out DeLay's ethics deficiencies as further examples of Republican "moral values".
  • He made the point (in defense of Bob Casey, Jr.) that he would much rather have a pro-life Democrat in his corner than a pro-life Republican - because pro-life Democrats at least care about children after they're born. And, of course, he mentioned that there were fewer abortions under Clinton than Bush.
  • He emphasized that Democrats must campaign and try to compete everywhere, not just in blue states and swing states. We can't just write off Mississippi, or we'll guarantee that we'll never win there.
  • He spoke of the need to count every vote - he expressed admiration for the Oregon law that prohibits use of any voting system that cannot be recounted by hand, and asked How Dare Republicans make a show of trying to attract blacks and Latinos while at the same time trying to repress their votes.
  • He pointed out Bush's cocoon and imperial arrogance in a very interesting way, saying that when he was governor of Vermont, he considered the people his boss, that even the ones who didn't vote for him still paid his salary. But President Bush, by contrast, will not even allow any of the 48% of the country who voted against him to participate in any of the town hall meetings he's been holding all across the country, and Dean drew a line from that to the incredible political incivility that has taken over this country.
  • He also shared an anecdote about when he asked a young evangelical Christian woman why she supported him - she said she disagreed with most of what he stood for, but the Texas Republicans had screwed over her family's healthcare, and she (and other evangelicals) placed a great value on convictions, especially in positions of high office, and she felt Dean had them, and Republicans didn't (he also disparaged the notion that Democrats should be centrist "Republican Lite").
I thought the convictions anecdote was telling, and seemed like it might be the start of a strategy to pre-emptively inoculate for whoever runs in 2008, so they don't get the same politically-expedient-waffler tag that Gore and Kerry got stuck with. Someone else (spork_incident, I believe) also observed that this appeared to be a concerted effort to encroach on the Republicans' own turf, by appealing to morality and convictions, and trying to make common cause with pro-lifers. Hopefully it will be enough to peel off some non-insane evangelicals, although I won't bet money on it.

Basically, if this is the message and strategy Dean wants the Democratic party to adopt, then I feel pretty good about it. The only major theme I'm sorry he didn't cover was The War On Terror - the Republicans have done a shite job at it before and after 9/11, and they need to be called on it, repeatedly. I would have liked to hear more about the Downing Street Memos and how Bush lied us into war, but Plamegate at least touches on that indirectly. I also would have liked to see him follow Hillary's lead and address the lapdogginess of the media, but that's maybe just my obsession, and might not have been appropriate or necessary for a fire-up-the-faithful address like this one.


And I realize this is a bit strange, but spork_incident backs me up (or at least humors me) on this: When Howard smiles, he looks a bit like the middle-aged, Monsieur Verdoux/Limelight-vintage Charlie Chaplin.

5 comments:

NYMary said...

But did you ask him about EschaCon? He'll no doubt attract a lot of softball players....

Eli said...

Nah, I didn't get any nearer than our table, which was pretty close. Would not be surprised if I was on telly or in the paper or something. Too lazy to check, tho.

Desi said...

It sounds great, Eli. I wanted to stand up and cheer just reading the points he covered. :D

watertiger said...

I wish more Dems were willing to be firebrands like Dean.

Eli said...

True dat, des & tigre. The need to speak out, let the chips fall where they may, and don't apologize.

If you keep making sense and get accused of being looney, eventually people will realize that your accusers are the ones who are the crazy ones.