June 29, 2006

Howard Dean: The Timothy Leary of the 21st Century

Sundry “webloggers” on Al Gore’s World-Wide Web are in a tizzy about a speech Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean offered to a religious conference in the nation’s capital on Tuesday. As has been reported in the press, Dr. Dean declared his desire for America to return to the 1960s, a time in which presumably we could all turn on, tune in, drop out, and vote Democrat.

To be sure, Dr. Dean’s hagiographical take on the purple decade is a bit laughable, coming as it does from the chairman of a national party that advertises itself as far more nuanced than its opposition. Ah, yes: Heralding the excesses of the drug culture, the Black Power movement, and libertinism—what’s more nuanced than that?

Now, to be fair, it appears as if Dr. Dean’s discussion of the 1960s wasn’t entirely laudatory. He actually mentioned a few “mistakes” made during those heady years. Yet he still set up a cartoonish contrast between the evil 1950s, which he likened to Bush Administration, and the glorious 1960s. Of course: Those horrid 1950s, in which such trifles as Brown v. Board of Education were decided. How square, man!

Although there was obviously much to chuckle at in Guru Dean’s paean to the 1960s, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” particularly savored the following line, which, we presume, was delivered without even a soupcon of irony:

We know that no person can succeed unless everyone succeeds.

Uh, come on, Guru Dean: That isn’t just sappy pro-60s rhetoric. It’s also patently false.

For example, let’s take the matter of the most recent election for president of these here United States. If we recall correctly, you ran for the Democratic nomination, and you did not succeed.

John Kerry, however, did succeed this far. He did so—and this is the important bit—despite the fact that you did not succeed. In fact, not to put to fine a point on it, he actually succeeded in part because you failed.

Perhaps you don’t think that this one example proves much. Well, then, we’ll be happy to proffer another, one that also hails from the realm of American politics.

After winning the Democratic nomination for president (as a result, in part, of your lack of success), John Kerry then went on to face George W. Bush in the final contest for the office. And, despite President Bush’s much-mentioned difficulties with the English language, he succeeded in being reelected. John Kerry, one the other hand—and this again is the important bit—failed.

In short, Dr. Dean, if you hope to be the next Charles Reich or Norman O. Brown, you really ought to take more care in crafting your remarks. Or maybe, in the manner of 1960s radicals, you think that logic is “patriarchal” and “bourgeois”?

Posted at June 29, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack