Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor
Hewitt is senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
board. [go to Hewitt index]
The mad doctor is taking it from all sides...
[Hugh Hewitt] 12/31/03
Angeles Times carried a story by Mark Babarak and Matea
Gold that included large chunks of John Kerry's and Dick
Gephardt's recent and very harsh attacks on Howard Dean.
The same day the Washington Post let Dean have it
with the toughest pre-primary negative editorial I can remember: "Assessing
Mr. Dean." And Monday's Post included another
round of attacks on Dean from Kerry and Lieberman, in an
article by Jonathan Finer.
I had begun
to wonder how anyone could remain viable as a national candidate
after so many left-of-center voices had denounced him as unfit
for the presidency on grounds of temperament and stability.
Ronald Reagan had a tough time dealing with George H. W. Bush's
attack on his "voodoo economics," but at least that
was a policy judgment from a fellow Republican, not a character
press is forcing him into the "mad scientist" corner
from which escape is pretty difficult. Don't expect me or any
of the Dean critics to close the drawer on all these attacks
on Dean once his nomination is secure and his opponents have
gone home to sulk. The Kerry-Gephardt-Lieberman assessments
of Dean may be too late to deny Dean the nomination, but they
are accurate statements of why Dean is unfit for the presidency.
I expect to be using them for the next 11 months, and I suspect
the president's team will as well.
A hint of
how the Dean fans in the elite media are going to attempt to
rehabilitate Dean appears in Monday's Los Angeles Times in
a column by the always-there-for-the-Democrats Ronald Brownstein: "On
the Dean Campaign Trail, the Man in the Mirror is Bush." (Not
for nothing did Bill Clinton brand Brownstein as his favorite
reporter. Along with Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, he
is the most reliable anti-Bush scribbler from among the major
papers in the D.C. media corps.)
first line tells you all you need to know: "George W.
Bush and Howard Dean: separated at birth?"
It is obvious
to even Brownstein that Dean's reputation as angry, unstable
and truth-challenged can't be rehabilitated, not with Dean's
embrace of loony conspiracy theories like the Saudis whispering
warnings to Bush about the 9-11 attacks, Dean's nutty declaration
that "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer," and
last week's flip-flop on frying Osama if he's captured alive.
Dean's mouth works overtime at revealing the wild-eyed tin-foil
can't really be built up, it will be necessary to define Bush
down to Dean's level, and Brownstein gives it a go: "Dean
and Bush also share a tendency to sometimes speak before they
think, and to dig in deeper when events seemingly demand retreat.
More important, Dean is proving Bush's double in his tendency
to view the world in black and white. Bush has divided the
globe into nations that support his view on how to combat terrorism
and those who are with the terrorists: His guiding principle
is that you're either with him or against him."
Brownstein doesn't provide any examples on Bush speaking before
he thinks or digging in deeper when he ought to have retreated.
And is Brownstein really arguing that Bush should divide the
world a different way than pro- and anti-terrorism? If Brownstein's
thesis had any evidence to support it, it would help Dean out
of the hole he has dug for himself.
isn't any evidence, and Brownstein could have been counted
on to provide such evidence if it was there. He doesn't, serving
up instead a few threadbare generalizations which don't stand
up for even a minute for anyone with a passing knowledge of
Bush or Bush's record in Texas or D.C. If there was a comparison
with Dean's "the Saudi's warned" lunacy, don't you
think Brownstein would have used it?
column is an extended effort at starting a "meme" on
Bush-Dean: That they have the same personality and thus that
the electorate can and should ignore Dean's weird and unsettling
personality because it is just like Bush's.
clever. And doomed. Because while Brownstein might not see
the differences between a president who mangles his syntax
while pursuing a mainstream policy of national security abroad,
and economic growth at home, and a candidate who indulges in
the volatile mix of paranoid theories, huge ego and foreign
policy by committees chaired by France, voters will distinguish
between the two easily.
Letterman and the Washington Post have got Dean's number: He
lacks basic qualifications to be president, beginning with
his temperament. Brownstein and the Los Angeles Times don't
agree. Fine. But keep in mind that the Times was with
Gray Davis until the bitter end. The paper and its staff aren't
exactly known for their accuracy or their objectivity.
2004, the Times will best serve the public as an early-warning
system for lame Democratic Party rhetoric, like the idea that
Dean and Bush are "separated at birth." Even though
it is still 2003, the opening line from Brownstein's column
may prove to be the worst opening line for any column in all
of the reporting on Campaign 2004.
Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television
and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh
Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country.
He blogs regularly at HughHewitt.com and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly
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