Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Life of the Party

One-time presidential candidate and current Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean made news today for his comment that the Republican party is "pretty much a white, Christian party," a statement so politically unwise that fellow Democrats are trying to distance themselves from it while Republicans are pouncing on it.

It doesn't take a genius to realize (if one thinks it through) that all the Republicans have to do is present one non-white or non-Christian Republican to prove that such a statement is overblown. In fact, perhaps Dean's counterpart in the Republican party, Ken Mehlman, said it best: "a lot of folks who attended my Bar Mitzvah would be surprised" to learn that he's the head of a "Christian" party.

While I actually think that Dean is largely correct in his assessment (if only in broad strokes), it's annoying that the leader of the party can't come up with a more effective way of making his point. Rather, he says something so clearly an exaggertation that the extent to which the statement isn't true and the idea that the Republican party's enemies have to resort to "name calling" to make their point will become the main focus of the statement, thereby allowing the party to get away with the very agenda (which is indeed largely the agenda of people who happen to be white and Christian) that Dean sought to make a point of. The fact that Dean himself is white (undeniable) and a Christian (if a liberal one) is totally lost. If Dean wanted to say that Democrats are better at appealing to a diverse group of people (as he himself states in the same interview in which he made the statement in question), surely he could have done better than to make such an easily disproven statement.

Of course, this is the same man who seemed a shoo-in for Democratic candidate for President only a little over a year ago, yet destroyed his chances with a scream-filled-speech (the man truly seemed unhinged) that was played, to much effect, over and over again in the days after he made it. Obviously this is not a man known for thinking about his statements before he makes them. But perhaps that isn't a pre-requisite for being a successful politician anyway. After all, our president is rather known for some not-well-thought-through-beforehand quotes, as well (You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a page, of the tons out there, that wasn't filled with material that was inappropriate for some audiences!).

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