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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Demon Dean

Fans of former Gov. Howard Dean might want to avert their eyes from Sunday's edition of the New York Times Magazine.

There's an article in the mag entitled ““Is Howard Dean willing to destroy the Democratic Party in order to save it?” and the scuttlebutt courtesy of this week's issue of Editor & Publisher is that the piece does not look kindly on the onetime presidential candidate and current chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The NYT article is meant to be a profile on Dean and his efforts to establish a 50-state strategy to expand the party's base and give it a long-range plan for recapturing Congress and the White House. Many Washington-based party leaders aren't simpatico with Dean's vision, however, and he takes his lumps in the piece, written by Matt Bai.

Here's some exerpts, via E&P:
Writing about a Dean visit to Alaska to check on progress in his 50-state strategy, Bai writes “In just a few hours, Dean had nicely demonstrated why so many leading Democrats in Washington wish he would spend even more time in Alaska – preferably hiking the tundra for a few months without a cell phone.”

At another point, Bai notes "At power lunches and private meetings, perplexed Washington Democrats, the kind of people who have lorded over the party apparatus for decades, find themselves pondering the same bewildering questions. What on earth can Howard Dean be thinking? Does he really care about winning in November, or is he after something else?”

Bai thinks not, but sums up Dean's image this way: “Fairly or not, Dean has come to embody a species of Democrat that a lot of Americans of both parties find off-putting -- the 60‘s antiwar liberal, reborn with a laptop and a Prius."

What do you think?

-- Sam Hemingway

Being a party chairman is about building the party - Dean is looking out for the future of the Democratic party, and wants to reach out to voters who aren't usually hit with the Democratic message.

The DSCC and the DCCC are looking out for the short-term goals of the party, and Dean is looking 20 and 30 years down the line.

And who said being anti-war and driving a Prius was a bad thing? There was a good reason to be anti-war in the 60's, and there's a good reason to be anti-war today.
The most obvious problem with Howard Dean has always been his fascination with himself. Dean is a raging ego out of control. He has always been a control freak (remember how he strong armed the media into keeping third party candidates out of electoral debates?) who doesn't tolerate disagreement with him. No wonder the old guard is worried. Dean wants to remake the party in his own image, which is natural for someone with a major case of narcisism.
Dean is going to kill the DEMS. He is way out of step with everyone in America, excluding the crazed and narrow minded "anit-war" wackos.
Did you really read the entire article? I am unsure because your interpretation leaves out quite a bit of the back and forth questioning the author does on whether or not Dean's strategy is working. To end your blog comment with the 60's quote as a summation really misses the point of the article, and does a disservice to Dean's work on the grassroots level. I commend Dean's effort to reach beyond the Washington elite, spreading out to re-energize the party and build up local participation.
over 60% of americans are now against the Iraq War.

that makes a lot of anit-war "wackos" out there.
Hemmingway, you should be ashamed of yourself for doing such a hackjob of a summary on this one. You went through a ten page article and pulled 3 negative quotes out of it. The article clearly states that people from within the washington establishment are supporting Dean's strategy, including Donna Brazile who ran Gore's campaign in 2000. Also the grassroots democratic organizations are supporting him. Try reading the article next time before you write about it.

Career politicians are shaking in their boots because Dean is thinking outside the box again. They are clearly afraid that he's changing how things are done. Oh my, they may just lose their cushy jobs because of it too ... oh, the horror!

Fear of change in our leaders, local and on Capital Hill, is precisely why this country has remained stagnant over the past 20+ years. Think about it, if our "elected officials" were actually doing their jobs, wouldn't they have nothing to fear?

More over, why is it that those "leading" this country don't want to try anything new (ie like Dean)? I think it's because they fear being criticized, or worse yet, out of job at the end of the next election. It's so sad if it's true. So, for me, I'd rather see someone like Dean make a bunch of mistakes in the course of getting "it" right over any of our current so-called "leaders" doing little or nothing at all any day.

At least he's trying something different ...
FYI to Kyle Arnold. When I wrote to post on the Dean NYT piece, it was Friday and I only had access to excerpts that Editor & Publisher had printed in its story about the NYT article. And I noted the source of the excerpts in my post. The reason I did this item was just to give folks a heads-up that the piece was coming on Sunday. -- Sam Hemingway
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