Howard Dean fulfilled a pledge made during his campaign for the DNC chair by visiting and rallying Democrats in a Midwestern red state. Dean went to Kansas yesterday, a state that has supported GOP presidential candidates since Goldwater in 1964, and railed against Social Security reforms and budget deficits. He also urged Democrats to “show up”, inadvertently highlighting an embarassing snub:
The former presidential candidate and Vermont governor criticized President Bush’s budget record and plans for Social Security while urging people to get involved in politics no matter what their philosophy. …
Before his selection as DNC chairman this month, Dean said he would bolster local and state party organizations even in the nation’s most conservative areas.
“How do we expect those places to vote Democratic when we don’t even show up?” Dean said during Thursday’s speech.
Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who was elected in a 2002 race marked by tensions between moderate and conservative Republicans, hadn’t planned to attend any of Dean’s events.
So the highest-ranking Democrat in Kansas has no plans to be seen in public with the leader of her party? That certainly sends a message, and not the one Dean intended when he embarked on his red-state tour. Sebelius knows that any indication of support for Dean and his MoveOn-sponsored agenda would be the kiss of death for her political career in Kansas and wants to stay far away from Mad How.
If the Democrats seriously want to engage the moderates, they picked the wrong man to lead them. No one doubts that leftists and radicals live in places like Kansas, but no one except Howard Dean thinks they can win elections for the Democrats. Sebelius obviously has better political instincts for the heartland than the DNC, and she’s using them to avoid Dean. Democrats hanging onto office in other red states will follow the lead of Sebelius and wind up making a mockery of Dean’s tour throughout red-state America.
Dean has it wrong: it isn’t enough to simply show up. You have to have a platform that appeals to moderates, and Dean and MoveOn don’t have it. Sebelius knows this and knows that sometimes, showing up is too much to ask.