by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
January 2, 2004
THE RIGHT'S NEWEST DEAN SMEAR TACTIC: HE'S CRAZY
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The right-wing screech monkeys (or RWSMs, for short) seem to have a new strategy for dealing with Howard Dean.
Call it the insanity offense.
I've been seeing quite a few columns of late that are questioning the mental stability of Dean. Why? Because he dared to say that perhaps President George W. Bush has not been as forthcoming as he could be regarding the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Most of the outrage stems from a comment that Dean made during an hour-long interview on Dec. 1 with NPR's Diane Rehm. Here's what was actually said, courtesy of BuzzFlash.com:
Caller: "Once we get you in the White House, would you please make sure that there is a thorough investigation of 9/11 and not stonewalling?"
Dean: "Yes, there is a report which the president is suppressing evidence for, which is a thorough investigation of 9/11."
Rehm: "Why do you think he is suppressing that report?"
Dean: "I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far - which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved - is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis.
"Now, who knows what the real situation is? But the trouble is, by suppressing that kind of information, you lead to those kind of theories, whether or not they have any truth to them or not, and eventually, they get repeated as fact. So I think the president is taking a great risk by suppressing the key information that needs to go to the Kean Commission."
To me, there's nothing that sounds crazy in those words. It sounds utterly sensible that the more secrecy there is surrounding a traumatic event, the more conspiracy theories you get. And we also know that the Bush administration has been utterly uncooperative with the various 9/11 inquiries and appears to have no interest in seeing a thorough investigation take place.
But daring to suggest that President Bush and his administration has been less than frank about its actions before, during and after 9/11 means giving the RWSMs another opportunity to tear you apart.
In his Dec. 5 column for The Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer decided that Dean was suffering from "Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency - nay - the very existence of George W. Bush."
Krauthammer goes on to take the above quote from Dean out of context - namely, only quoting the beginning of the last passage. "When (Dean) avers, however, that 'the most interesting' theory as to why the president is 'suppressing' the 9/11 report that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, it's time to check on thorazine supplies."
Even by the normal hyperbolic standards of conservative punditry, this is way over the top. But he wasn't alone.
Linda Chavez piled on, saying that Dean "is increasingly looking like he's come unhinged" and that "he can't help himself from saying weird things."
Like Krauthammer, Robert Novak quoted Dean out of context about the Saudis while lamenting that Dean "neither apologized nor repudiated himself for passing along this urban legend."
And so this verse is added to the master narrative that is being spun by the RWSMs - that, in the words of Ann Coulter, "it is beyond dispute that Howard Dean is a more appalling candidate than George McGovern ever was."
It's interesting how vigorously conservatives are attacking Howard Dean while at the same time they are fervently hoping that he's the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. They have visions of a 50-state landslide win for Bush if Dean is the opponent.
Coulter may write off the Dean supporters as "impotent nosepickers hoping to make some friends and unsuccessful auditioners for Gap commercials ... the followers (as opposed to leaders) of tomorrow." George Will can dismiss Dean as being "the candidate of America's professorate and others whose strongest passion is as much aesthetic as political - intellectual contempt for George W. Bush." Mona Charen may think that Dean's "arrogance is so hot it throws off sparks" and that "his relationship to the truth is showing signs of Clintonitis." The Mighty Wurlitzer of the conservative propaganda machine can go full-tilt boogie from now until November, and none of what they say will matter.
That's because something else is happening out there - something that the Washington press corps and the political establishment of both parties hasn't a clue about.
Having recognized the utter failure of the press to report timely, accurate and truthful information about the Republican Party's theft of the 2000 presidential election and the Bush administration's fraudulent reasons for its invasion of Iraq, many folks have tuned out the corporate press.
-Few are paying any attention to the attacks on Dean, because they are coming from the same folks who painted Bush as a "compassionate conservative" in 2000 and who unquestioningly swallowed the Bush administration's lies on Iraq.
So when the RWSMs question Dean's sanity when he makes a statement as innocuous as his remarks to Diane Rehm, or for stating the equally obvious fact that capturing Saddam Hussein did not do anything to protect the safety of the U.S. from al-Qaeda, many take it with a dump-truck load of salt.
People don't have to look hard to realize that the Bush administration has been a disaster for this nation and the world as a whole. Dean spoke up about this when the Democratic Party's was cowering in fear. That has been the reason why Dean is the frontrunner and the reason why all the mudslinging against him has had almost no effect.
So let the RWSMs call Dean insane. They only look like nuts themselves by doing so.
Randolph T. Holhut was a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.