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January 13, 2004
Whither the Dean Angst?

Hugh Hewitt had a fun time on his show tonight discussing the source of all the Dean rage after reading this article in the Los Angeles Times today:

Dean bristled at those who questioned his motives. He had long had a habit of popping off in public, but until he became governor, no one paid much attention. Now they did. Wisecracks lightened the mood during Dean's drawn-out news conferences, but on occasion, his flippancy curdled.

An avid radio listener, he would phone talk show hosts from his state-issue car, raining instant responses on surprised critics. He traded barbs with a welfare mother who had called in to complain about his policies, Hogan recalled. When a station in the town of Waterbury ran a Republican legislator's rebuke of a visit by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dean called in, angrily comparing him to a barnyard animal, recalled the offended politician, J. Dennis Delaney.

There's more angst in the article, but it's mostly an election-year background puff piece. Hugh challenged his listeners to come up with a good explanation as to how this man from a privileged background became so angry. I couldn't listen to the entire show and didn't have time to call, but I did send this in by e-mail:

A couple of thoughts, the first tongue in cheek:

Howard's mom discussed how poor the Deans were in their Park Avenue digs. Why, the dining room had to double as a nursery when they had Howard! That means little Howie had no privacy at all, and had to always be surrounded by the aroma of pommes frites and pheasant under glass that he was not allowed to eat, not to mention possibly having close encounters with the silverware. Maybe the term chafing dish took on a whole new meaning in Chez Dean.

A bit more seriously, after listening to the descriptions of Howard's supposedly middle-class upbringing (why, they even treated the servants like real actual people!), I can see two dynamics at work. One, it may be that the Deans couldn't quite keep up with the Bushes and the Kennedys and that some of these silly statements from Dean's camp have some bearing on reality, or at least Dean's take on it. Or it could also be that Dean feels uncomfortable with the wealth and privilege he had as he grew up and the guilt is gnawing at him. I suppose it could be a combination of the two in some odd way, a guilt over privilege but a strong desire to demonstrate that he wasn't as privileged as others. Something of these dynamics have put a giant chip on his shoulder, and I think you're right, it goes back far beyond this election cycle, and probably before his career in public service.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 13, 2004 7:37 PM

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