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The Dean beat-down

The Black Commentator on what happened to Howard Dean.

If a mildly progressive, Internet-driven, young white middle class-centered, movement-like campaign such as Dean's -- flush with money derived from unconventional sources, backed by significant sections of labor, reinforced by big name endorsements and surging with upward momentum -- can be derailed in a matter of weeks at the whim of corporate media, then all of us are in deep trouble. The Dean beat-down should signal an intense reassessment of media's role in the American power structure. The African American historical experience has much to offer in that regard, since the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements were born in a wrestling match with an essentially hostile corporate (white) media. However, there can be no meaningful discussion of the options available to progressive forces in the United States unless it is first recognized that the corporate media in the current era is the enemy, and must be treated that way...
It is important to note that in mid-December, according to Newsweek's poll, Dean, Kerry and Clark were doing equally in a match-up with George Bush, at 40, 41, and 41 percent, respectively. There was no statistical basis to single out Dean as unelectable... No matter. The corporate media has the power of self-fulfilling prophesy, and they know it... Dean was tagged by the media as a loser to Bush well before he let out "The Scream" -- an innocuous, non-event, on the night of his Iowa defeat.
Dean understands what was done to him, although there's nothing much he can do about it. In an interview with CNN's repugnant Wolf Blitzer, the candidate said: "You report the news and you create the news... You chose to play it [`The Scream'] 673 times."

(Via RandomWalks.)

causes 2004.02.01 link


That's a tough one. Let's pretend I disagree with you for the sake of argument. It may be a shame that politics is media, but it's the state of things, and this election is a contest for the center. There's a case to be made that Dean has proved himself maladept at managing the media, perhaps out of an infatuation with his own posture as an uncompromising outsider. A lot of us identify passionately with that stance, but historically speaking, it's a losing proposition. And we really need to win this one. I have been attracted to Kerry for this reason: He's a boring, technocratic suit carrying on doggedly in the "it's the economy stupid" tradition. "I was for the war when I thought Saddam had WMD, but I was made an ass of just like everyone else": No matter how much I agree that many of Dean's statements on the war have been misconstrued, that message of Kerry's is a lot simpler, and, frankly, inspires more confidence because it sounds more honest. America wants the government to kick some ass, but people are going to weigh their $300 rebates against the price of kicking the wrong ass and realize that Bush has been wasting our time and baffling us with bullshit.
Thus, as the bard of silver beard hath quoth, "You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em." Dean has chosen his battles poorly so far, it seems to me. It's like what they used to say about an old mayor of São Paulo: "He steals, but he gets shit done." Kerry may be an establishment pol, but I really don't think middle America is going to go for the revolutionary rhetoric surrounding Dean. Middle America does not care that Dean blogs. Middle America thinks blogging is a big wank. Middle America wants a Clinton without the draft-dodging and sex appeal. I say, for argument's sake, that the French-looking guy's our man.

colin [iggy cxe hairyeyeball punkto net] • 2004.02.03
There are at least two separate issues here. One is what you think about Dean vs. the other Democratic candidates. I happen to like Dean on various grounds including standing up against the war ahead of the curve, and I'm having a lot of trouble stomaching Kerry for not opposing it when it really mattered. I understand the point that boring is good when you're fighting for the middle, but I think history has plenty of examples of that strategy going wrong for the Democrats -- think Mondale, Dukakis and Gore, oh my.

But that's not what this post was about. As the Black Commentator takes great pains to point out, they don't have a horse in this race and nevertheless are horrified by what the media did to Dean.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.02.03
Well, I'm sure not going to argue that the media won't savage you just for something to do on a slow news day. Case in point: "This country is not safer for the capture of Saddam Hussein." Which happens to be true. But it requires following a complicated argument for more than 30 seconds. Which is death on TV. Here's what >Steve had to say about the whole thing:

"Stripped of all the net wizardry and media hype, Dean is only a moderately appealing candidate for most mainstream Democratic voters. He's got great energy, of course, and he's clearly a very smart guy; but he's also got a testiness (not anger, just testiness) that doesn't come across very well in a lot of settings."

Settings like sound-byte driven TV, unfortunately, the mainline to the Amurrican mind. Tha's all I'm sayin.

colin [iggy cxe hairyeyeball punkto net] • 2004.02.03
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