Some cordial advice

I wasn’t going to write an anti-Dean column. Dean faltered in Iowa, and the media, being the sensationalists they are, will be overplaying the story all week. I didn’t care to join them.

But all that changed as I watched Sen. John Edwards’ inspirational victory speech be interrupted as the media filmed a coked up Dean sprinting on stage, high-five-ing everything that moved and looking like he was about to do a stage dive. After ripping off his jacket with such enthusiasm that it prompted fears of further loss of clothing, rolling up his sleeves and waving victoriously to the crowd, Dean did what he does best – yell. Only this time, it was slightly more scary than usual. And then, when it couldn’t get any worse, he started talking in Spanish. Is that the new Southern strategy? So as I prayed that the network would switch back to the night’s real winner, John Edwards, I came to the conclusion that maybe it is time to offer the Dean campaign a little friendly advice.

Sorry to be like the rest of the Washingtonians, but here’s my advice for Dean. Who knows? Maybe the governor will read this column and change a few things. After all, it’s become quite a habit of his.

Most importantly, stop yelling so much! You’re scaring my grandmother, and she votes. Hell, you’re scaring everybody. Yes, we’re all pissed. But nobody wants a president who’s going to punch the first person who disagrees with him. Try to get me to vote for you because you’re inspiring, not because I’m afraid one of your supporters will bash my car’s headlights in if I don’t – which, knowing my experience with Dean supporters, is a very real possibility.

Stop talking about providing health care for all of Vermont. Providing health care for 600,000 white people is not that great of an accomplishment. I could mow lawns for the summer and pay for Vermont’s health care. Big deal.

You can’t be anti-establishment with Washington endorsements. Does anybody else get that? You can’t practically dry hump Sen. Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) at a rally and then turn around and rant about all those evil Washington insiders who voted for the war.

Carol Moseley Braun doesn’t count as an endorsement. It’s a truly sad reflection on the campaign that you have to pay Braun $20,000 a month for “travel expenses” to campaign for you. There goes any respect I had for the woman. If the .000056 percent of the vote that Braun brought to the Dean camp is really worth a bribe, then your campaign deserves to trip up.

Getting a National Rifle Association endorsement when you were governor is not a good thing. Anytime Charlton Heston pats you on the back and tells you “good job,” you’re on the wrong side of an issue.

You have a great organization, it’s just a tad cultish. While pulling in new voters is great, you have to appeal to the swing voters. S?ances and animal sacrifices – which I’m convinced happen at many Dean meetings – don’t exactly do the trick. Be more cordial toward opposing views. And don’t ever tell a voter to sit down when you disagree with him.

And yes, we can prejudge Osama bin Laden.

The only way you can win the South is if you stay the hell away from it. Put Gen. Wesley Clark or Edwards on your ticket and let them campaign there. Otherwise, the South is not going to vote for somebody from Vermont, even if you’ve never touched a latte in your life.

Finally, stop being so fake. We know God didn’t tell you to vote for the civil unions bill. Your wife is a wonderful doctor, not a prop, so keep it that way. And we know you weren’t excited when you came in third in Iowa. You got where you are by being yourself. Now if we could just figure out exactly what that is, you’d have a better shot.

I suppose I wouldn’t mind Dean so much if he didn’t shoot his mouth off and switch his position every time he sees his own shadow. Would I campaign for Howard Dean? Probably. Would I vote for Howard Dean? Definitely. But until Dean learns how to control himself, or not talk at all, I’m becoming more and more convinced that in order to beat Bush, first you have to beat Dean.

-The writer, a sophomore
majoring in international affairs,
is a Hatchet contributing editor.

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