Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Friday, January 23, 2004
The Dean Scream
The Iowa electorate goes suddenly volatile, and within a 10-day period you go from solid front-runner to distant third place. It's bad to lose--ask Dick Gephardt--but Dean's loss was like losing a 31-point lead in the fourth quarter. At least Gephardt knew going into the fourth that he was down two touchdowns and a field goal.
So Dean goes to the faithful and lets it all hang loose with a primal scream. Of the many non-issues of this campaign, this is the most non. Acting human and expressing human emotions isn't really the sign that a guy's not presidential material--the opposite is true (recall that faced with 9/11, Dubya fled to Nebraska).
But what has become an issue is how he's handled it--which is, of course, the nature of politics. The Dean camp didn't embrace it soon enough or lightheartedly enough--sending the message that they thought it might be a problem. I have some advice: appropriate the Dean Scream.
Call it what it is--the battle cry. Make light of the moment and admit that it looks pretty funny, but don't back off the message, which is that you stand foursquare against politics as usual. With the Bush administration committing horror after horror against the country, a battle cry is just what the doctor ordered. Point out that throughout the election, one guy has been hammered by both the Democratic candidates and the conservative punditocracy. And Dean's also right to point out that the unpopular message he advanced 9 months ago, alone save for Dennis Kucinich, is now the playbook of every one left standing--including a former Republican general.
A scream of protest? Maybe we should all be making one.