Thursday, September 11, 2003

More on Dean's biggest mistake so far

Just to demonstrate that I am not a knee-jerk defender of Dean I would remind the reader that I have been critical of Dean's handling of the "I'm the only one" flap from the Baltimore debate.

ABC's The Note provides some useful details:

4. In the case of Dean's Baltimore debate remark about being the only white politician who talks about race in front of white audiences, Dean's defense was that he said the same thing in June at a Rainbow-PUSH event and wasn't corrected, so the attacks now are politically motivated.

Leaving aside the questionable notion that a public figure can say something that is wrong with impunity forever if no one stops him after the first time; and leaving aside the fact that Dean had no reason to assume it was true that the other candidates don't talk about race — it now turns out that what he said at the Rainbow event wasn't the same (as helpfully provided — via a Googling monkey — by another campaign):

In June, Dean said at the Rainbow/PUSH forum "I don't just talk about quotas here in front of a predominantly Latino and Black American, African American, audience. I talk about quotas and affirmative action in front of white audiences, because white people need to hear from white politicians that this is an important issue." [Rainbow PUSH Forum, 6/22/03]

No mention, obviously, of being the only one.

During the debate, Dean said, "Secondly, I'll tell you why I connect with African-American audiences. I'm the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences. Black people have heard lectures from white politicians for a long time. White folks need talk to white people in America about race.

Obviously, two different things.

Obviously. The Governor has a good point to make here and his Rainbow/PUSH comment shows how it can be made. He just stepped over the line with the addition of the "I'm the only one" comment and his subsequent attempt to dismiss the criticism of it.

I'm still a Dean man. But this incident definitely takes the shine off.

Oh well. It was probably inevitable. If Dean is going to be the one to go up against Bush then now is as good a time as any to see if he can really take the heat. I just wish the heat the Dems were applying were only the legitimate kind represented by this dustup. The attacks on Dean about his Israel/Palestinian comment are deliberate distortions for political effect that will ultimately damage the party as a whole.


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