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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, February 20, 2003


On the campaign trail with the un-Bush

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, February 20, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Several readers have submitted this link to a Jake Tapper profile of Dean in Salon. This ia fairly big news for Dean, it was similar profiles in TNR (The Invisible Man) and TAP (The Darkest Horse) that really launched Dean's grassroots support. Unfortunately, Salon still insist on their Premium nonsense to access material, but you can circumvent this by using a "free pass". I have also sent the article to the UNMEDIA mailing list (feel free to browse/search the public archives).

Caption to the photo: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, right, answers questions at a gathering in Concord, N.H., Feb. 16. Story excerpt:

...the story Dean wants to tell me happened when he and Romer met with the Democratic House leadership, including House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., and others. Dean, he recalls, was brash. He remembers telling Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the Democrats' leader on healthcare reform, that he "didn't know what he was talking about." Then, he told Foley that healthcare reform was an issue that needed to be tackled, and that the governors were prepared to lead the way. Foley told him to hold back, that the Democrats wanted to do it at the congressional level.

"Well, why don't you?" Dean asked. Foley told him that the Democrats, who then held more than a 100-seat advantage in the House, didn't have the votes.

"Well, then let us do it at the state level," Dean said. Foley told him that he'd prefer if they didn't.

Exasperated, Dean lashed out, saying, "Well, Mr. Speaker, if I were in charge of an organization that had a 25 percent approval rating, I might move on healthcare one way or another."

There was silence in the room. Finally, Foley smiled. "Actually, it's 27 percent," Foley joked.

Finishing the story, he smiles again. Later, over breakfast at Henry's Diner in Burlington, he says, "It's not a story that reflects well on me. I hope I've matured since those days."

But of course it's a story that reflects quite well on Howard Dean and he knows it. Dean generally uses his blunt comments like an inmate with a shiv. And already, he's used it to set himself apart not only from the bland, cautious Democratic bench of presidential wannabes, but from the bland, cautious Democratic Party in general. In an interesting contrast, when I ask Waxman about Dean's 1991 anecdote -- without telling him where I heard it - Waxman, through a spokesman, followed Washington protocol and praised Dean while denying such an incident ever occurred. Dean's brashness could prove not only refreshing but awfully successful in an era when both the media and the opposition party seem cowed into submission by the White House.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.