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March 28, 2005

Dean Don't Speak

Speaking of Dean -- and freaks who read the blog from the bottom-up will know I am -- anyone else a bit surprised at the Chairman's decision to treat the press like he's a groundhog and they're his shadow? The rationale for making him chair rested pretty heavily on his facility in front of the cameras, but the reality of his chairmanship has been a continuing race away from the glare. So while I'm glad he's doing the grassroots thing and encouraged by his focus on local press, which is basically the only kind he's talking to, I fear this is less strategy than phobia.

Folks who rode the Dean train the whole way through its slow-motion explosion have told me how the guv'nor's mistrust and paranoia of the national press rapidly expanded as the campaign fell. Dean, for his part, never liked the press, but at least he tolerated them. I'm a bit concerned that his past experiences have -- rightly! -- soured him on media reliability and fairness, so he's decided to circumvent them. But that judgment, which is perfectly logical considering the guy's past, can't inform his chairmanship. We need Dean to be fairly aggressive with the national press because Democrats lack all the natural points of entry -- the Presidency, the Senate, the House. If this is strategy, as some say it is, and Dean will explode onto the scene in a week or two, that's well and good. If this is character flaw, however, we're in some trouble.

March 28, 2005 in Democrats | Permalink

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Comments

Dean is, at this point, a national figure. Taking a national figure to a local or regional outlet sure seems like a great idea, in some ways. Easy to get time at that level. Bypass the other side's instant spinners. Maybe actually reach people, show that the democratic party is about folks.

There's really a lot to recommend it.

Does a party chair necessarily have to talk to the national media a lot?

Posted by: TJ | Mar 28, 2005 1:36:21 PM

Matt Y spanks you bad. ouch!

Posted by: Al | Mar 28, 2005 1:47:37 PM

I'm not sure Dean can get even a normally unfair treatment from the national media as Dem. spokesperson. So maybe he is right to keep his focus on state/local party organization and media.

On the other hand, who speaks for the Dem. party?
Joe LIEberman? Hillary? Kerry? The question answers itself. No one currently.

So what is the answer to the question of who should be speaking for the party? In the past, that has been a function of the Congressional leadership in the House and Senate and the DNC Chair.

Reid is doing pretty good, Pelosi isn't awful. Dean is invisible but working the state parties, to seemingly good effect - along with some local media exposure.

I think that question of 'who should' can't be answered now, since if someone is to speak they must say something - and the brutal truth is the Democratic party is not sure what to say.

So, maybe the 'let a thousand flowers bloom' approach is right for now. Dean shouldn't speak to national media for the party unless we are pretty sure that it would not set off a circular firing squad reaction that ends up doing more damage than good.

What would the party say about Iraq? or North Korea, or Pakistan, or CAFTA, or the right to die, or gay marriage, or etc?

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. And any spokesperson.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Mar 28, 2005 2:22:40 PM

Howard Dean right now is a superstar. He should not be trotted out every week as the face of the Democratic Party; save the spotlight for actual elected Democratic office holders or for people who, unlike Dean, are allowed to run for president in 2008.

Roll out Dean for talking to the party faithful, for fundaraisers, and for rarer media appearances. An anticipatory press, hoping for a word with an elusive Dean, may be more inclined to toss him softball questions. But his role isn't to shape message.

Posted by: Anthony | Mar 28, 2005 2:34:54 PM

Dean is doing what he was elected to do... shore up the grassroots. His focus should be local media right now. If he was in the national media now, we would be subject to his famous scream every time the media introduced him. The repubs are screwing up right and left right now. Why should Dean take the light off the repubs by stepping into the national media??? Oh ye of little faith... hold your horses, the time for Dean to emerge will be prior to the '06 elections, not now. Now he is rightfully organizing for those elections. Let the Repubs hang themselves now without any help from us. By the way, it wasn't Dean's ability to speak to the press that got him elected----it was his reaching out to the grassroots and local organizers.

Posted by: Mike | Mar 28, 2005 3:05:41 PM

I’m sorry to see another politician shying away from the press. I don’t blame him, but I’m sorry to see it happen. For that may be the location of the sword in the stone. At least that’s where I think it is. How can we return to Camelot unless some aspirant to higher office draws the sword from the stone? The ability to wield the press as though it were a sword is my guess as to where the sword is buried. Sword in the Stone
And now we have another politician that avoids the press. Not that the press is going to do his or anyone’s bidding willingly. Their a cynical self-serving lot; it will happen unconsciously – certainly without their knowledge or acquiescence. They (and we for that matter) may not realize it until after it is over or well into his (or her) presidency. But it can never happen if one takes on the Nixon/Bush attitude that the press is the enemy. The press is not the enemy; it just appears that way.

Posted by: scou29c | Mar 28, 2005 3:36:08 PM

While Ken Melham is out mobilizing right and left, Dean is staying way under the radar. I read the same political wire articel, and cannot agree with Ezra more. He has the celebrity aura, and asides from his duties to mobilize and plot better than the GOP, he ought to be orating with gusto.

Posted by: Michael Schreiber | Mar 28, 2005 3:38:13 PM

Curiously I sort of like Dean - he at least has beliefs and commitment.

I do think though he would be better keeping a low profile and on "energizing" the Dem base.

After all rich Manhatten abortion doctors don't tend to go down to well in conservative areas.

Posted by: Boethius | Mar 28, 2005 4:51:05 PM

I think Dean's staying out of the spotlight because the party establishment that failed to get him run out of the DNC race have made it very clear that they want him to do exactly what he's doing now.

I could be wrong, but after his primary loss, he showed up everywhere they'd talk to him to defend John Kerry. During the DNC race he was all over the place again, chatting up whoever he could. If he's quiet now, I doubt it's because he's media-shy, and would say it seems more likely that certain someones are stepping on him with both feet.

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 4:05:30 AM

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