Jewish World Review June 13, 2005/ 6 Sivan, 5765

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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The totally awesome Governor Dean | Howard Dean deserves some kind of award, so we must give him one. Let's call him Entertainer of the Year. We'll forward the plaque, C.O.D.

The former governor of Vermont most resembles a character out of what Hollywood used to call "a laff riot." Abbott and Costello were only almost as good.

He does it with the limited vocabulary of the schoolyard. "I hate the Republican Party and everything it stands for." Republicans are "liars," "evil," "corrupt" and "brain-dead." And his daddy can lick your daddy. Totally awesome.

Since the governor obviously doesn't take himself seriously and his fellow Democrats can't take his material seriously, there's no reason why any of the rest of us should. Whether scream or sotto voce, his message is a mess. Like anybody's 5-year-old grandson, the governor says the darndest things. The governor's Democratic colleagues can't laugh but the rest of us can.

George W. and the Republicans are going through Bad Patch No. 9, but the Democrats can't get no satisfaction. So frustration grows. Anger abounds, and the consternation is contagious.

Hillary Clinton took time out from the vast reclamation project of refurbishing herself as a believable matronly moderate for '08 to hurry out to the Left Coast to raise money for her aborning presidential campaign, delivering herself of a few choice remarks that might have been written by the Dean wordsmiths at the Democratic National Committee. The people in the White House, she said, are "intent on abusing power, destroying the United States Senate and undermining our Constitution."

The current Republicans, meaning George W. and his pals, are "the worst abusers of power ever." This was a bit extravagant since "ever" includes Grant, Harding, Nixon and even her husband. Nevertheless, Hillary's ladylike rant was ranted at a fundraising breakfast, and for the kind of money she was picking from their pockets the donors deserved meat a little redder than pickled herring.

Such rhetoric (if not the pickled herring) as the governor and the senator from New York are dishing is enough to frighten sane and sober Democrats. John Edwards, Joe Biden and every other Democrat who expects to face voters soon tried to distance himself from the governor's more outrageous sentiments, such as suggesting that Tom DeLay go back home to serve his jail time, or that Republicans are people who have never had to hold a real job, or that the Republican Party is the party of "white Christians." (Nobody felt man enough to chide Hillary.)

Embarrassed Democrats are saying the obvious, that party chairmen are hired to say outrageous things and everyone should chill. Jay Dickey, a Republican insurance salesman whose talent for telling bald truths in colorful ways cost him an Arkansas congressional seat several years ago, was once scolded for over-the-top language in a fundraising letter.

Well, he said, yes, that was his signature on the letter, but he didn't write it and besides, he hadn't seen it, and anyway, nobody believes anything in fundraising letters.

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Howard Dean, on the other hand, has the sense of humor you expect to find in Vermont, which is not really a state but a collection of cheese and craft boutiques squeezed between New York and New Hampshire. The winters are so cold in Vermont that summer, which arrives in August and sometimes lasts for nearly a week, never can quite thaw everything and the governor's sense of humor remains locked in ice the year 'round. The smoked cheddar is good value for money, but there's a very high fat content in nearly everything that slides down the Green Mountains.

But not all the fat is from the cheese. Richard Durbin, the senator from Illinois who is the minority whip, sat in on a meeting several Democrats had yesterday with Mr. Dean in Washington. He described it as "a room full of people who have all misspoke."

The trouble with Mr. Dean's speeches, the senator said, is that if it weren't for the dadgummed newspapers nobody would know what he was saying. His inflammatory remarks only make headlines because reporters "play into the service of the right wing. I think we understand what's happening with you all. The right wing has got the agenda moving ... and everybody's got the agenda. It's all about Howard Dean. You've bought into it. You can't let up on it. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

Is this a great country, or what? Where else can so many million-dollar mouths attached to hundred-dollar brains succeed with so little effort?

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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