Give 'em hell, Howard

Over at Common Dreams, progressive Portland radio talker Thom Hartmann has a few choice words for the DNC:

This morning I called the Democratic National Committee to tell them that I support Howard Dean's modern-day version of Harry Truman's dictum that, "I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."

Timid and fearful Democrats are trembling on national television as they beg Dr. Dean to stop pointing out the hypocricy and misinformation efforts of Republicans in office and Conservatives in the media.

"He doesn't speak for me," they say, apparently longing for the days when their spokesman was taking big checks from multinational corporations, signing corporate-friendly trade deals, and defending sex scandals.

Read the rest of Dean Just Told Them The Truth and They Thought It Was Hell and come back to discuss.

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    the latest was gov bill richardson. what really angered me was not that he said dr dean's remarks were divisive (and we know how inclusive the Rs are) but that the question as presented was false. he should have pointed out that howard dean did NOT say he hates republicans. but by not attacking the question and its falsity, he plays into the wingnuts' & rove's hands. if he can't think more clearly than that, and act for the good of his party and not merely his own future, then i want no part of him. he clearly is not presidential material.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    if he can't think more clearly than that, and act for the good of his party and not merely his own future, then i want no part of him. Hear, hear. Can we send all these 2008 wannabees to some kind of crash course in standing up to media/Rovian framing? A spinal implant academy? A waffle removal operation? Something.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    Woops, I messed up the formatting, sorry about that!

    I forgot to say: go Thom Hartmann, our hometown media hero! If it weren't for Thom and a few other clear-eyed commentators, my head would be imploding from all the self-righteous op-eds and Beltway blather about Dean. Thank you,Thom.

  • Gregor (unverified)

    Dean said that Republicans were mostly White Christians and they are. I thinks it's embarrassing the other Democratic Party Leaders cringe at discussing issues of race, as though this is no longer relevant. It may not be our #1 issue today, but it's something of which the Democrats should be proud. Democrats are the people that fought for civil rights and we continue to reap the benefits of those changes.

    Not all African-Americans, or Latinos appreciate that the mere fact that they are at the table is related to the war on racism fought be Democrats. I feel that individuals like Condoleeza Rice, Blackwell in Ohio, Clarence Thomas, Attorney General Gonzalez, Al Sharpton are nothing less then blithering idiots. Living clueless lives about the people with whom they associate. Either that or they have convinced themselves race is no longer an issue because look where they are.

    Democrats should have taken Dean's lead and informed the press who the Democrats are. A reflection of the whole society, not merely the former, or soon to be former white majority. [Check the census. I'm not suggestign this is something to fear, but rather something to declare as the strength of the Democratic Party. A sign Democrats are prepared to thrive now and in the future.]

  • Gregor (unverified)

    PS - Want a window to change the frame, here it is. Jon McCain declared that "Dean is the gift that keeps on giving." That should be an opening to "What ARE the Republicans doing to ensure that Tom Delay's actions were ethical?" Andteh Democrast might also add an excessive amount of disgust that Mr. McCain would compare one who has made an "off color" remark to someone with serious ethical issues. It is simply "beyond the pale!"

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    The more Howard foams at the mouth, the more money I give him. Hillary too.

  • Jon (unverified)

    I guess I'll have to party company with the majority here. I just wrote a piece on this topic ("Dean's List") elsewhere.

    In a nutshell, Common Dreams' conclusion that "Howard Dean points out these uncomfortable truths" is just not a sufficient formula for leading Democrats out of the wilderness. Dean's skills at fundraising and firing up the troops are not the issue here. What's ailing the Democrats isn't primarily about grassroots efforts in all 50 states (though that matters) or about not being "Republican lite." As I wrote in December (as the DNC chair race was heating up):

    Dean is focused on the symptoms, and not the disease itself. Democrats must be more than the Party of No. Democrats must say what they stand for and articulate a positive policy program for change, all in a way that is easily communicated.

    Democrats need to take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and focus on who we're speaking to and what are our priorities. For all of the energy, outrage and intellectual horsepower being expended, what is the "meta-story", the unifying theme for groups like MoveOn and America Coming Together (ACT) on the left and the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and the New Democrat Network (NDN) in the center? When John Kerry lost every income group over $50,000 a year, was mauled both among white men (62-37%) and white women (55%-44%), and saw George Bush gets 42% of the Hispanic vote, who are we speaking to? Suburban voters (like "Office Park Dads", "Soccer Moms", or "Security Moms") or the mythical "ideopolis" of "creative class" professionals and urban minority voters? Have we created accidentally a de facto left-wing cacophony that obscures issues and confuses Americans as much as the right-wing noise machine we loathe?

    As the old saying goes, ya gotta dance with who brung ya. So I'll continue to back Howard Dean. But I can't help but agree with a clearly frustrated Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., who concluded, "his leadership right now is not serving any of us very well. We really don't have a message right now."

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    I wish Dean had said the problems with the Republicans are what Thom Hartmann says they are, but Dean didn't. If he'd said the Republicans are dominated by theocrats and big corporate money, we wouldn't be having the discussions we are. He may have said something closer to Hartmann about the media; if so, more power to him and he should keep doing it.

    Hartmann is off-base with his happy-talk about Democratic Party history, especially on "race." Before World War II, the DPs record on race was rotten, the strongest pro-slavery party, the party of Black Codes, the first KKK, of "Redemption," disfranchisement of black men and poor white men, of Jim Crow.

    T. Jefferson may or may not have been a Democrat. Many of his views were progressive in his day, but today conditions for his vision of democracy just don't exist. And that ignores the racial huge beam in his eye when it comes to democratic vision. He was a slaveowner, a promoter of scientistic racialism because emerging "racial science" was considered cutting edge, part of "progress" in his day, a supporter for forced expatriation of ex-slaves to Africa; he would not even consider the idea that black people or Indians should be able to be full citizens.

    FDR won his great victories on a combination of mobilizing workers and farmers around a broader vision of human rights (voiced in the Four Freedoms of World War II), and refusal to challenge the Democrat-controlled political order of the Jim Crow South, including refusal to support anti-lynching laws.

    Democrat defense of the filibuster in recent months has been positively sickening in its failure to recognize that the great role of that venerable institution in the 20th century was blocking anti-lynching laws and civil rights laws. Lyndon Johnson's tremendous achievements in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 depended on breaking the filibuster barrier.

    We can choose to try to follow up the more progressive and democratic lines of DP history for our future, and should. But we should not pat ourselves on the back too much about DP history. Rather we should face up to it, and recognize that the less progressive lines did not entirely switch over to the RP with the defections of the southern conservatives. We should particularly reject calls for "moderation" when they mean moderating our commitments to equality and justice.

    Howard Dean I think is fighting that fight for what the DP will be. Al Gore actually did surprisingly well at it during the last campaign. If he'd run in 2000 on what he was saying in 2004, he might not have ended up where he did. I just hope Dean gets a little smarter about how he takes on the Republican theocrats, who do not speak for all or even most Christians.

  • Mike S (Tokyo) (unverified)

    Hi everyone,

    I'm not sure if this is the right place to post or not, but I am an Oregonian who has spent the last 10 years living in Tokyo. I'm a member of the Tokyo Democracy for America group and we are looking for a candidate(s) to support in the 2006 elections.

    Does anyone know of any good progressive candidates in Oregon who might be worthy of our support? We're particularly interested in smaller, close races where our assistance might make a real difference. Personally, I'd like to go with someone in a very red area, if there is a reasonable likelihood of victory.

    If anyone would be interested in mailing me about it, please feel free to do so.

    I hope to hear from you.

  • LT (unverified)

    Aside from getting elected to Congress, what has Harold Ford accomplished? I vaguely seem to recall he ran against Pelosi for Leader and lost and I was glad because Pelosi made more sense to me.

    Tennessee is not Oregon. The E. Coast is not the W. Coast. And when I hear comments like this As the old saying goes, ya gotta dance with who brung ya. So I'll continue to back Howard Dean. But I can't help but agree with a clearly frustrated Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., who concluded, "his leadership right now is not serving any of us very well. We really don't have a message right now." I really wonder what the speaker specifically wants.

    There may not be "a message" which could sell in both Tenn. and Oregon except maybe that grass roots infrastructure stands a better chance of winning than corporate donations and listening to DLC tell us that only if we obey them will we win any elections. How did Potter beat Franscesconi? How did Bates and Buckley get elected in Jackson County? For that matter, for all the new school board members about to be sworn in, how did they win?

    There are a few broad topics (like caring for current and former veterans and making that more important than tax cuts) which could sell anywhere in the country, but there are differences in different areas. I think caring about your own area ("as I walked my district, I heard a lot of people concerned about...") is more important than having a broad national message that might sell in some areas but not in others.

  • expede (unverified)

    Who the hell is Tom Hartman? Can you please put some original filling content in your post instead of just a quote and link from elsewhere?! If I wanted a a link aggregator I'd be checking RSS. I come here, for the contributors that are here.

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    Re: Tenn vs. Oregon "messaging"

    FYI: The media firm who does both Darlene and David Wu's campaigns also has Harold Ford, Jr. as a client. They'd be the first to point out the differences in messaging, but the areas have more in common than you might think. I've worked in both areas- it's a lot easier to elect progressives here (not that surprising).

  • Nicholas Chorey (unverified)

    Dean, Dean, mean Dean! I agree wholeheartedly with his pronouncements regarding the White Christian, Corporate, Elitist , and Right-Wing Fundamentalists assisting the Republicans in eliminating the middle class and substituting our Democracy for an Oligarchy. Give em Hell Dean!

  • LT (unverified)

    I agree with a statement an old friend made today along the lines of "Sometimes Howard may run off at the mouth, but he is doing great things to reorganize the party"--grass roots, better organized, more in shape to put the emphasis on winning elections everywhere and not just raise money for the sake of it.

    The goal is to win elections, not to prove that a particular theory of politics works. McAuliffe had all the money and powerful friends, but by not winning 2004 elections a new type of leadership was needed.


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