Howard Dean continued his self-immolation as DNC chair yesterday, telling a San Francisco audience that the GOP was nothing more than a “white Christian party”, and then claimed he was just being “tough”:
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are “a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It’s pretty much a white Christian party.”
“The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people,” Dean said Monday, responding to a question about diversity during a forum with minority leaders and journalists. “We’re more welcoming to different folks, because that’s the type of people we are. But that’s not enough. We do have deliver on things: jobs and housing and business opportunities.”
Howard’s last broadside, that Republicans never put in an honest day’s work, even had Democrats repelled. Two prominent Democratic politicians — Joe Biden and John Edwards, who’d like to run for President if Howard hasn’t destroyed the party by then — both said that Dean didn’t speak for them. He’s driving off major donors, claiming that the party needs to focus on Internet collections instead of deep-pocket patrons. However, the Democrats have raised less than half the money that the GOP has since the first of the year, and his rhetoric appears to be costing them support from the center.
This last charge is hilarious coming from Dean. Recall, please, what started the Dean collapse during the 2004 primary race. Dean came to the Iowa caucuses as the acclaimed frontrunner by raising prodigious amounts of money, thanks to Joe Trippi and his visionary outreach. He had the momentum and had captured the imagination of the party. The Iowa caucuses were expected to anoint him as the dragonslayer against the hated George Bush.
Then the Iowa debate came on January 11th, and it all slipped away — and race was his Kryptonite, and Al Sharpton his Lex Luthor. Sharpton skewered Dean so badly that he left the Vermont governor blinking into the cameras like Dan Quayle in 1988 in his debate against Lloyd Bentson:
SHARPTON: I want to — you know, I have to ask this. I was going to ask Dennis something.
But I have to ask you this, Governor Dean, because I was disappointed you weren’t in Washington the other day. But you keep talking about talking about race. In the state of Vermont — where you were governor ’97, ’99, 2001 — not one black or brown held a senior policy position, not one. You yourself said we must do something about it. Nothing was done.
Can you explain — since now you want to convene everyone and talk about race, it seems as though you have discovered blacks and browns during this campaign. How you can explain not one black or brown working for your administration as governor?
DEAN: Well, actually, I beg to differ with your statistics there.
SHARPTON: This is according to your paper in Vermont, the Associated Press, and the Center for Women in Government.
DEAN: Well, perhaps you ought not to believe everything in the Associated Press.
SHARPTON: Oh, so you’re saying they’re incorrect?
DEAN: We do have African-American and Latino workers in state government, including…
SHARPTON: No, no, I said under your administration. Do you have a senior member of your cabinet that was black or brown?
DEAN: We had a senior member of my staff on my fifth floor.
SHARPTON: No, your cabinet.
DEAN: No, we did not.
SHARPTON: OK, that’s not…
DEAN: … six members.
SHARPTON: Then you need to let me talk to you about race in this country.
DEAN: Well, let me just say one thing, which I have said before but I’ll say it again. If the percentage of African-Americans in your state was any indication of what your views on race were, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King.
SHARPTON: But I don’t think that that answers the question. I think if you’re talking — if you want to lecture people on race, you ought to have the background and track record in order to do that. And I think that clearly people — governors import talent, governors reach all over the country to make sure they have diversity.
And I think that, while I respect the fact you brought race into this campaign, you ought to talk freely and openly about whether you went out of the box to try to do something about race in your home state and have experience with working with blacks and browns at peer level, not as just friends you might have had in college.
The bombshell from the Reverend came as a shock to the national audience, which had never seen the Vermont fireplug stumble so badly — and the Democrats suddenly started to question not only Dean’s qualifications to address race but his ability to withstand the heat of a general election.
Now Mad How wants to talk about race again. All I can say is that I’ve seen the Reverend Al Sharpton, Howard — and you are no Reverend Al. And you of all people should know that.