Friday, January 9, 2004

The sufferer whirls like a dervish, stumbles frequently, blinks before bright lights, occasionally whines through gritting teeth.

Mad Cow disease? No — Mad How disease, the political bacillus spread by Park Avenue’s Typhoid Mary of ulcerous anger, “Mad How”ard Dean.

Mad How is a variant infection of SARS — Scream and Rage Syndrome — a brain-eating, kuru-like plague afflicting the hard left of the Democratic Party, the hot-wigged activist and conspiracy theorist faction that forces even the sanest of Joe Liebermans and Dick Gephardts to madly kowtow.

Kuru? It’s a malady cannibals catch, “a progressive, fatal degeneration of brain tissue, marked first by unsteadiness of stance … loss of coordination … exaggerated startle response.”

Mad Howard’s frantic, peptic rise to top dog in the Democratic pack exhibits similar symptoms, from his “unsteady” (retracted) crack about Rebel flags to his hideous conspiratorial “hint” Bush knew in advance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to his demand we deal with the Soviet Union (it’s Russia now, Howard), to his huff that America is no safer with Saddam incarcerated, followed by his startling revelation Job is his favorite New Testament book.

Imagine the monthlong jihad Maureen Dowd and other smirky national press poohbahs would have waged had George W. Bush had done a similar job on Job. For years, leftish poohbahs have dubbed W. a “moron.” Will the poohbahs ever tell us what kind of imbecile these gaffes make Mr. Dean? Or will they excuse him as a victim? Here it is: One dark morning, a Rupert Murdoch hireling infected Howard’s organic yogurt with Foot-In-Mouth disease. Evidence? To paraphrase Mr. Dean: Who needs evidence if the theory is “interesting”?

Kuru is nothing to laugh at, nor is the serious strategic illness infecting today’s Democratic Party, a legacy of weakness and fecklessness when it comes to U.S. national security and sustained international action to defeat antidemocratic thugs.

Mad Howard’s scream-and-rage campaign, whatever his tactical stumbles, thoroughly charms his party’s most critical nominating constituency, that cadre of angry American leftists struggling with a nasty case of ‘60s nostalgia and their failed elitist ideology.

Sixties nostalgia and elite ideology entwine with these Baby Boom radicals’ narcissistic notion they’re smarter than their parents and, golly gee, everyone else. Their various passions combine with pop socialism to produce a “progressive” agenda where they — behind smokescreens of social science jargon — use government coercion to force you to do what they currently theorize is best for your benighted little life.

These “progressives” wish America were France, where they, the bicoastal and academic American equivalents of French L’Ecole Polytechnique and Left Bank elites, will call the political and cultural shots for us stupes inhabiting flyover country. Now, whether tenured in the Ivies, ensconced in editorial positions or pulling in trial lawyer and Hollywood bucks, these late middle-age Volvo drivers long for L’Age D’Or, when smoking dope and calling U.S. soldiers babykillers made you “hip.”

That pop-off antiwar posture reflects their tie-dyed dogma that “America is wrong.” Such knee-jerk opposition to decisive American national security action was deep-down dumb in 1983 when they plugged for unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament in the face of Soviet SS-20 missile deployment in Europe. Post September 11, this brain-zapped foolishness is even more dangerous.

America will be better off when the Democrats have a leader with the national security grit and vision of Harry Truman. I’ll reserve judgment on Wes Clark, since he’s little more than Hillary Clinton’s stalking cavalry horse. Fortunately, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Gephardt do show signs of common-sense defense and foreign policy instincts. However, waltzing their party’s flaming left nominating constituency damages their general election credibility.

Mr. Dean has said his campaign is more about his supporters than about him. Give Vermont’s Guru of Gaffe credit — for once he’s right. Mad How disease is really a symptom of the American left’s debilitating intellectual and moral malaise.

This decades-old left-wing illness has weakened the Democrats. It’s time the public scourged the illness. A Bush-Dean confrontation in November, with Mad Howard trounced, would be a welcome cure.

Austin Bay is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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