Howard Dean's Media Blackout

Joshua Gibson

Howard Dean debated Richard Perle last night at the Tom McCall Forum. First, Dean ordered a media blackout, then changed his mind.

I am, admittedly, still in a slow-simmering rage that my beloved party has chosen the toad from Vermont to lead us.  With his bulldog demeanor, Jack-Nicholson-As-The-Joker grin, and profound inability to communicate any kind of message to the American people other than his insanity, it would seem to me that Barbra Streisand would be a better choice.  Perhaps even a half-eaten Egg McMuffin or Buster the Bunny.  But my temperamental inability to like Der Kommissar isn't the issue tonight, my dear blue friends.

The issue is the press blackout that wasn't.  I've never understood progressives' fascination with Dean, who is neither progressive nor fascinating.  Okay, I take that back.  He is fascinating.  In precisely the same way as President Bush.  Both are arrogant, secretive and authoritarian, hiding behind an image and calling foul whenever someone questions their unbounded authority.

But this is the final straw, the nail in the coffin, the end so final that it requires cliche.  Dean would dare to appear in a forum named for a great champion of open-meetings laws and forbid the press even to "paraphrase" his statements?  We are led by a man so afraid of the press that he'll go to absurd lengths to protect himself from them.  How, exactly, is this different from Bush's own fear of the White House Briefing Room?  Sure, I understand why Dean's afraid.  He knows that if he slips up and says something monumentally stupid (and he's smart enough to know that he probably will) the press will run the hell out of it.  He knows he's up against the articulate and intellectually staggering Richard Perle.  So why not show utter contempt for the press by barring them from covering the story?

But, not only does his maneuver stink of the petty despot that lurks in his shrivelled grey heart, but it was also incompetent.  He had to backpedal and let them cover it anyway.  He must have realized, at some point, that the story was going to be about the blackout itself.  That Perle would be quoted at length, with no rebuttal from Dean, even in paraphrase, while the story would end with "Chairman Dean asked that his statements not be quoted."

Progressives should be ashamed to have supported this man.  The party shold be ashamed to have promoted him.  And our politicians should fear what horrific damage this man is about to do to our chances of electoral victory.

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