A Rather WTW
In honor of Dan Rather's last day on the job, I have taken this article and Rather pimped it up some.
Liberal Groups Keeping Close Eye on Dean
A year ago, in a situation that would give an aspirin a headache an activist group from the Seattle area gave Howard Dean a thin, golden statue of a backbone. The Oscar-like award honored the former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont governor for standing up against the Iraq war and other Bush administration policies. Keep in mind they were teetotally meetmortally convinced they had found their savior in Dean.
Now, as Dean has swept into his new role as head of the Democratic Party, like a tornado through a trailer park, that golden spine has come to represent, for many liberal Democrats, Dean's potential to develop a tougher, take-no-prisoners attitude among the party faithful.
"There's no gut-check required for Dean. Dean just needs to be Dean," said Dal LaMagna, founder of the Progressive Government Institute. "He's the kind of person who's a collaborator, a facilitator, a collaborfacilitatertater. He's not someone who has a clique or who will only talk to people in his clique. He's going to find that people will hang on him like a coat rack".
In an e-mail sent to supporters Thursday, Dean said he has gotten an overwhelming response from "grass-roots Democrats" offering input on the party's agenda. When it comes to running a party like this, Dean is a long distance runner and an all-day hunter, he's a ding-dong, knock-down go-getter.
"So many Democrats can't wait to get started. They want to grow our party from the ground up. And that's exactly what we're going to do," Dean said. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, Republican or a mug wamp, for a metro-sexual Dean plays it straight.
Bill Moyer, executive director of the Backbone Campaign, said he hopes Dean will continue to be a leader among liberal Democrats and that his chairmanship will mark a turning point for the party. "Frankly we don't know whether to wind the watch or to bark at the moon" he said.
"Dean is the link to this progressive movement," Moyer said. "The Democratic Party can either use that or squander it. I am not saying it will be easy, no, it's about as complicated as a wiring diagram to some dynamo."
The latest recipient of the golden backbone was Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio, who challenged Ohio's electoral college results from last November's election which was tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach, forcing a rare debate in the House and Senate.
"There are some that worry that he will move the party too far to the left, but I'm not worried about that," she said. "I think he will give definition to the party and allow Democrats to define the party instead of allowing Republicans to define us." Many consider this a proposition that is shakier than cafeteria Jell-O. To that Rep Tubbs says turn the lights down, the party just got wilder.
Another golden spine recipient, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, said the Democratic Party's problem is that it needs to stop talking in generalities and start articulating its message, two hands worth of white knuckle is still hanging ten: "I don't know why the Democratic Party even exists if it can't advocate for universal health care and ending the war in Iraq."
Jodie Evans, a founder of the women's peace group Code Pink, poses the question that is hotter than the Devil's anvil when she said she's watching to see if Dean maintains his grass-roots connection or becomes part of the Democratic establishment in Washington. "He had the courage to step into a position where he can break the Democratic Party out of its stagnation," she said. "Does he have the leadership capacity to do that?" One's reminded of that old saying, 'Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek.
It's this balancing act between pleasing the more liberal parts of the party while also appealing to middle-of-the-road voters that will be Dean's biggest challenge, and his margin for error is as thin as turnip soup said Charles Franklin, a political scientist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Are the Democrats going to dance the electoral macarena? Is Dean up to the job, or will the Republicans beat him like a rented mule. Folks, let me point out something to you, because for a lot of people in Washington, they could not be more surprised if Fidel Castro came loping through on the back of a hippopotamus.
Well, you know the old saying, 'cold talons, warm heart.'
That's all, folks.
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