Sunday, May 29, 2005

I try to be positive…

…heck, in terms of the blogosphere, I'm a downright cheerleader for the organized Democratic Party, but I try to stay conscious, too, of potential trouble ahead. That's why this remark from Howard Dean's recent appearance on Inside Politics has been stuck in my craw for a few days…
I can't worry about what the press does. The press has done what they do since I have been running for office. My job is not to worry about the press. My job is to worry about the American people and the Democratic Party.
I don't know why the hell he said that, but I sure hope to hell he doesn't believe it. Howard Dean brought two strengths to the position of DNC Chair. The first was a personal appeal to a faction of progressive activists who might typically vote for Democratic candidates but have been generally unafilliated with the Party in more formal ways, including financial support of Party organizations, as opposed to campaigns. This is the area that seems to have received most of Dean's attention to date, as he's worked to integrate his network of supporters to build stronger Party organizations at the grassroots level, state by state. While the lackluster fundraising at national headquarters has disappointed some Democrats, I think it's too early to measure the impact of Dean's efforts to date. The attempt to rebuild a Party, bringing aboard new voices and working from the ground up, takes time and there may yet be a commensurate financial reward.

Dean's other strength is actually something of a mixed blessing. What many Democrats laud as a spirited defense of our Party and its principles is portrayed by the GOP as a demonstration that the Democratic Party is so whacked out that they made the notorious Iowa screamer their Chairman. Maintaining his aggressive persona while countering that Republican libel means that Howard Dean has to walk something of a tightrope every time he makes a public appearance, knowing as he must that the spinners in the GOP oppo shop will be pouring over every word. How his story is presented vs. theirs in the press will have a powerful effect on every other effort undertaken by our Party and its candidates, for better or worse.

Unless Dr. Dean understands that a very important part of his job is to worry about what the press does, to him and to all of us by extension, we can only expect the worst...


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