There is a line from Rob Reiner's
White House propaganda film, "The American President", where
Michael Douglas, portraying the good but much maligned incumbent
President of the United States (a Democrat, of course), is
watching his evil Republican rival, "Senator Bob Rumson", played
by Richard Dreyfus, attack him on television. Rumson is
throwing chunks of political red meat to a group called the
At the end of his speech, he looks
into the camera and delivers the most mindless signature line in
the history of politics: "My name is Bob Rumson and I'm
running for president." To which the president smugly
replies, "I'm sure glad he cleared that up, because that crowd
was about to buy some Amway products."
Back here in the real world, a man
named Howard Dean is running for president, and what he is
selling is a snake oil worse than anything ever pedaled
door-to-door at any MLM convention. In fact, what Howard
Dean is pushing would make FDR gasp and Lenin applaud.
A few years ago Dean was the
governor of Vermont, a tiny state with more than its share of
leftwing ideologues: Patrick Leahey and Jim Jeffords in
the U.S. Senate and a self-proclaimed Socialist named Bernie
Sanders in the House of Representatives. Dean was right in
line with the Vermont tradition of his colleagues, taking
ultraliberal positions on abortion, homosexual special rights,
health care, Social Security, Medicare and, of course, the taxes
to pay for it all.
While he was governor, Howard Dean
signed an outrageous piece of legislation that legalized civil
unions between members of the same sex. It was tantamount
to same-sex marriage, and now 49 other states have to deal with
the contractual migraines created by this perversion of the
Constitution's full faith and credit clause.
Now he is on the campaign trail
running for president. An internist by training, Dr.
Dean is gleefully running to the left of everyone—no small task
when one is running in a field of whining collectivists that
includes Richard Gephardt, John Kerry, Dennis (the Menace)
Kucinich and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Yet there he is, the
maverick from Vermont, the man who is capturing the media's
fascination: "Could he be just blunt-talking enough to
capture the Democratic nomination? Film at eleven."
Dean is the one person in this
weak group of Democrats who can hurt John Kerry. Without
Dean in the race, Kerry, from nearby Massachusetts, would
probably win the New Hampshire Primary without breaking a sweat.
However, with fellow New Englander Dean assaulting him from
neighboring Vermont, Kerry could very well be in trouble,
especially since the courts have ruled that he cannot finance
his campaign with his wife's vast personal fortune—the "ketchup
money", as Gephardt has called it (Kerry is, after all, Mr.
Which all adds up to a rerun of
1988's Bush-Dukakis race: a liberal from New England
captures the imagination of the activists in the Democrat
primaries, then reveals himself to be the emperor with no
clothes when he has to make his case before the entire country.
Some say that Dean's personal
problems will derail his candidacy. Quite the contrary,
among his Democrat base in particular. Like Dukakis, whose
wife, Kitty, admitted to emotional and drug problems, Dean's
difficulties with a teenage son in trouble with the law will
make him human in the eyes of many voters, especially Democrat
women, soccer moms who tend vote with their emotions.
Of course, barring some
catastrophe, Howard Dean will not defeat George W. Bush to
become the next President of the United States. Those who
truly wish for such an outcome can always move to Canada and
pretend their guy won.