- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The greatest gift to the Republican Party since the left-liberal Democratic Party nominated George McGovern for president in 1972 has been the choice of Howard Dean as the party’s national chairman and Democratic Party spokesman. Indeed, how lucky can you get?

Richard M. Nixon’s opponents used to ask about him: “Would you buy a used car from this man?” Listening to the ravings and rantings of Howard Dean, M.D., I thought of an updated version: “Would you allow this doctor to take your temperature?” My answer: I would not. Boom Box Dean has ignored the most important warning to doctors, an ancient warning which applies even more so to ambitious politicians: Primum Non Nocere, in English, “First, Do No Harm”.

When Mr. Dean, Vermont’s five-term governor, ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, he began his campaign speeches with these words: “You don’t know me.” And as it turned out, Democratic voters nationally not only didn’t know him, they didn’t want to know him.

On many American college campuses, there is a period in the fall semester called Fraternity Rush Week when prospective members are invited to visit fraternity houses for a look-see. Antisocial members are hidden away in the fraternity house basement so as not to discourage prospective rushees.

Instead of hiding Boom Box Dean in the basement before the next election, Democrats, blessed with a fine suicidal instinct, handed the Republican Party a gift: they chose Mr. Dean as its chairman and fund-raiser. At a time when as partisan a Democrat as Hillary Clinton, dreaming of 2008, has piped down, hoping thus to persuade the electorate she is a moderate, Boom Box Dean comes along and fouls up her campaign.

To put it simply: While the Republican Party today controls all national levels of government: House, Senate, White House, Supreme Court, the one political “institution” they don’t control, fortunately, is Mr. Dean. And why should they want to control him? Democrats like John Edwards know and reputedly have said that with Boom Box Dean at the pilot’s wheel, they are headed for rocky reefs and down the vasty deeps.

But Boom Box Dean goes right on claiming “people want us to fight. We are here to fight.” That’s not how other Democrats see it. The Associated Press reported June 11 that Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s campaign manager, whose political past includes being fired during the Michael Dukakis’ presidential bid against George Bush 41, was 100 percent behind Mr. Dean, which figures since she is another Boom Box. Or is she?

Ms. Brazile said: “Privately, people have said they don’t want Howard Dean to become the story because we have more important issues to talk about. But publicly, we will continue to give Howard Dean our strong support.”

Mrs. Clinton better clean up this mess if she can, or she won’t have much of a party to support her in 2008.

She might benefit from remembering that in the 1945 British elections, a Howard Dean precursor, Harold Laski, a left-wing pro-Soviet intellectual who was doing a character assassination job on Winston Churchill, was told by Clement Attlee, Labor Party leader and future prime minister: “A period of silence from you would be welcome.”

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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