- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

It’s rather amusing, frankly, to see certain Democrats trying to distance themselves from Howard Dean’s latest round of vitriol against the Republican Party, when you consider the systematic slandering most of them have heaped on President Bush for more than four years.

Assuming you’re not dwelling in a cave with Osama, you’ve heard that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said many Republicans “never made an honest living in their lives,” and the Republican Party is “pretty much a white, Christian party.” (As to the former, remember when Democrats, in their postelection, grief-born introspection promised to redouble their efforts to reach out to the Christian right and “values” voters? As to the latter, I haven’t heard whether Howard cynically attempted this time to pepper his remarks with scriptural passages, as he is wont to do.)

Most Democrats who even bother to dissociate themselves from Mr. Dean’s remarks are presidential aspirants, such as Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who said, variously, Mr. Dean doesn’t speak for all Democrats.

Oh? That’s news to me, since he occupies precisely the position of one who does speak for Democrats. Indeed, Democratic honchos were well aware of Mr. Dean’s proclivity for Republican villification when they deliberately placed him in his current position. And need I remind you Mr. Dean is a perfectly logical successor to Terry McAuliffe, who character-assassinated Republicans for sport?

Democrats knew what they were getting with Mr. Dean and chose him with malice aforethought. They either affirmatively support his endless defamation or have concluded it’s the price for mollifying their antiwar, anti-Bush base. Either way, Mr. Dean’s words were entirely foreseeable, even predictable.

That’s why it is a little hard to take Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s disingenuous suggestion that Mr. Dean’s comments were a mistake: “Well, I think, as all of you know, that there isn’t a single person that hasn’t misspoken.”

How true, but don’t insult us by trying to pass this off as a misstatement. Did the faux mild-mannered Mr. Reid misspeak in calling President Bush a loser in comments to schoolkids and a liar? As far as I know, he didn’t retract the latter.

Did New York’s Sen. Hillary Clinton — also, by the way, a Democrat presidential hopeful, who has a newly acquired immunization from serious criticism for her intermittent, intemperate remarks — misspeak when she charged, “There has never been an administration, I don’t believe, in our history more intent upon consolidating and abusing power?”

Or, did someone fail to deliver the memo to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who said Mr. Dean had “energized the base of the party. He has a plan for building the infrastructure of the party. People feel very involved in terms of issues, organization and communication?”

So, which is it? Did Mad Howard misspeak, or are his remarks calculated to “energize the base”? (That was a rhetorical question.)

No less a paragon of verbal restraint than Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy said that though some of Mr. Dean’s phrases have been “inartful,” he has been an effective party chairman. One must ask what criteria Mr. Kennedy has in mind, given that Mr. Dean reputedly has difficulty raising funds, which one would assume to be the party chairman’s primary duty. Or is it to incite the loony Left base, which apparently gets a little antsy between Michael Moore mocumentaries?

And since we’re debating if Howard Dean said what he meant to say, perhaps we should consider his own reflections after a couple of days to ponder the uproar his remarks generated.

In full-throated Bill Clinton mode (attacking his accusers), Mr. Dean said, “You know, I think a lot of this is exactly what the Republicans want, and that’s a diversion.” He said Republicans are feigning outrage to divert the public’s attention from their problems on Social Security, gas prices and the war in Iraq.

Does this sound repentant to you? Next time I get caught robbing a bank, I’m going to accuse the police of diverting attention from their failure to control white-collar crime.

I agree with House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, who properly noted that “Democrats, while quick to publicly distance themselves from Dean, can’t hide the fact that their national party chairman remains a sought-after presence in closed-door strategy sessions.”

I’m afraid Democrats know exactly what they’re doing with Mr. Dean. They’ve decided, as a matter of strategy, they must vilify and berate President Bush and Republicans because it’s the only real weapon remaining in their arsenal. For now, they’ve quit competing in the marketplace of ideas.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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