If You Like Canada, You’ll Love Howard Dean
By Doug Patton
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 “Conservative Coalition.”
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 or 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 Lahey 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 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. Theresa Hines).
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.
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country, and on www.GOPUSA.com, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor.
He also writes for Talon News Service (www.TalonNews.com).
Readers can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org