Thursday, November 20, 2003

Howard "Zoom Zoom" Dean

Over on Not Geniuses they are having a discussion of Dean's latest policy speech in which he called for a crack down on corporate malfeasance. Prior to the speech he gave an interview in which he used the word "re-regulation". This was the only time he used that word. He did not use it in the speech. However, it has become the word for critics and commentators to use when talking about his proposal.

Some have cringed at the word, saying it is a terrible label to use for what otherwise is a good proposal. One of the posters to the Not Geniuses thread, Morat, disagrees:

Just a note: Everyone's talking about what Dean said, aren't they? It was news, wasn't it?

In fact, the term "re-regulation" really got a lot of ears perking up.

More than "We need to give the SEC more funds, and crack down on those corporate bad-boys".

Everyone says that. No one listens.

Dean's gaffes, oddly, serve to further his agenda. Because they're plainspoken, because they're not couched in political doublespeak, people pay attention.

He's going to have reporters constantly asking about it, and even have other candidates talking about it.

And what does he get to do everytime it comes up? Remind us that Enron and Worldcomm are still among us...that we're still getting shafted, and that the only thing done was to paste cosmetic bandaids over the problem.

*snort*. I rather doubt it will cost him, even among the libertarians.

I'm not sure about the liberatarians, but I think Morat has a point. Dean's alleged gaffes have resulted in increased attention on the very thing that Dean was trying to draw attention to. How many articles after the confederate flag flap lead with some variation of, "it was a clumsy way of putting it, but Dean has a point?"

Dean wanted Democrats talking about how to win back southern voters. Democrats are talking about winning back southern voters. Mission accomplished.

When you can get the majority of commentators and critics to say that your point is valid, they just disagree with your terminology, then I would call that an overall win. Dean could have couched these issues in more diplomatic language. But, as Morat points out, everyone does that, yet nobody listens. It's that kind of carefully parsed language that so often puts people to sleep. It is as much to blame for decreased voter participation as is extreme partisanship. Perhaps even more so.

To make a wild comparison: why do so many people watch auto racing? Part of it is undoubtedly the thrill that comes from watching several tons of metal so precariously close to smashing into pieces. It's dangerous, but it is also exciting, and it gets people interested.

Dean is a NASCAR driver in a world of bumper car politicians. He's thrilling to watch specifically because his off-the-cuff style draws attention to the most important issues of the day. He does it in a way that few other politicians can achieve.

Is it dangerous? Hell yes! But it's even more dangerous to go on ignoring the very real problems that Dean, by his "gaffes", draws our attention to.

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