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June 08, 2005



he's not insulting white Christians; he's saying the GOP is a white Christian party, which is undeniable.

I think you're way off base here, buddy. There's no evidence he's "dividing the party," OR consolidating the GOP. For one thing, what party chairs say have about ZERO effect on the body politic. It's just not part of the broader national discourse. Charlie Cook backs me up on that in yesterday's column.

Dean is no gift to the GOP. He's shrunk their off-year money advantage from 3 times to 2 times, by nearly doubling their fundraising and on-hand take over the same period in 2003. He is spurning the top-down approach for one that puts small amounts of money in many places where the Democrats have previously ceded the turf by default. The red state Democrat organizers are LOVING this guy, and THEY are the ones who are going to do the talking in their communities, not Dean.

And if Dean is causing the party to be so unpopular, why are independents nearly mirroring Democrats in their sentiments as revealed in recent polling? 68% of INDEPENDENTS believe the GOP's priorities are wrong. Which is not necessarily to say that the Democrats have yet capitalized, but there's only one party losing ground so far this year, and it doesn't start with 'D.'


Sirota has a good rebuttal, here.


Sirota, like you, simply doesn't get it. However, he at least refers three different times to how divisive Dean is within his own party. Then he completely misses the point while explaining how this is somehow good for... who... a percentage of the progressive base. My point is that this is inevitably about popularity. Biden, Edwards other Dems have distanced themselves. Expect more to follow. If independents are opposed to GOP policies it doesn't mean they're about to support liberals. Especially, when they (dems) give so much ammunition to the right with so little self control. I think Sirota hit a foul ball, but I think Billmon, as usual, hits a homerun.

Dizzy Dean


Edwards aggressively denied he was distancing himself, yesterday. I'm not aware of anyone other than Biden. And Sirota is right on to say that it has nothing to do with Dean, and everything to do with weaklings like Biden. His point is not that divisiveness is good, but that it's a) unnecessary at this stage, and b) largely irrelevant to the greater picture.

I get it, all right. We've seen time and time again recently, that there is NO penalty for making bold or even outrageous statements from a partisan vantagepoint. The ONLY reason this may begin to resonate as an issue, is because of the frightened DLC hacks lashing out to save their own skins--not because of anything Dean says. The public doesn't care.


Oh, and it is wildly insulting to me, I suspect Powell, Rice, Gonzalez and many many more to claim the party is simply white and Christian. If that isn't the height of irresponsible race baiting, I don't know what is. Do you read the blogs to the right? Less than half are Christian, and I have gone out of my way to give Christian bloggers props. That canard you insult the right with is driving more non-Christian libertarians to the right. Nice work. You once complimented me for not demagoging the left. Dean is demagoging the right. Early and often. It's sloppy. He has no self-control.

Sirota speaks from the advantage of spending time with him. I'm sure I'd respect the man given the opportunity to allow him to dig in and out of his holes, but he needs to stop that cause we all don't have the advantage Sirota uses to defend him.


and for the record, Billmon's article goes WAY beyond the rational. Find someone else? C'mon, that's absurd. You can smell the fear in his 'voice'--"Oh no, the Republican sleaze machine is picking up on his comments! Time to back away and apologize, and make sure people know we're not like that!" Hooey. Do you think Tom Clyburn gave a rat's ass about the one or two Senators who rebuked him? Nope.


It's an issue because it's insulting, incendiary, divisive, childish, inaccurate, etc., and Dean is a major feature in the current face of the somewhat faceless "loyal opposition."

What public doesn't care? The small but active part of the public, the part that creates the memes and drives the apathetic opinion certainly does care.


Zap, no party chair has ever had an affect on the elections based on what he says--especially in an off year. I repeat that the public, particularly swing voters who are generally much less plugged in, will not hear or remember this story.

What's insulting and inciendiary to call a spade a spade? The GOP is the party of the white Christian. That doesn't mean only white Christians are in the GOP, it means that they are the ones being served by the party. The party is FOR them. It now exists to do their bidding. What he said is 100% accurate, and you know that. The GOP's political agenda is to promote the values and policies of white Christians. Period.


Are Powell, Rice or Gonzales not Christian?


Odd, I found Sirota to be completely irrational. Billmon has the (rare for a lefty) gift of knowing his opposition (Sun Tzu understood the importance). You and Sirota seem comfortably oblivious.

We both once agreed the ugly divisions in the country need to be bridged. We've even sought out stories from both sides of the aisle that reflect the possibilities. Dean is part of the problem.

The GOP could come apart at the seams, which would be a good thing for honest conservatism. For that reason alone, I think Dean making the left look ridiculous may just work out fine. If the GOP holds itself together, then the left needs leadership. Not this antagonistic blow hard.


And your last question doesn't merit a response. If you have to play that semantic silliness to avoid Dean's nonsensical gaffe... well, I'm not playing. Go ahead. Call them Uncle Sams. See how that plays.


I'm sorry, I don't understand how it's either nonsense or a gaffe. Surely you aren't SERIOUSLY suggesting that the GOP doesn't currently exist to make policy that appeals primarily to the interests of white Christians as a bloc.

I submit that Billmon doesn't understand his opposition at all, because the kinds of things the opposition is perceiving Dean to have said, are the EXACT SAME THINGS THEY DO DAY IN AND DAY OUT, as a matter of public discourse. They assail it because they think they recognize it. And surely Sun Tzu would recognize the power of baiting an opponent in order to draw them out and cause them to overreach. Whether that's what Dean is doing or not, I'm not sure, but it's a big mistake to assume that Dean is not conscious of either his statements or his approach.

I'm surprised to hear that you think Dean is part of the problem, when you've expressed repeatedly the opinion that Democrats should stand firmly and make their positions plain. Dean did exactly that: the GOP is following policies that cater to a very small slice of the electorate, and they are not interested in hearing other voices.


How is this an insult? I have no problem with admitting that the Democratic party is predominately secular and non-white. Why is it so hard for Republicans to admit who their base is? It can only an insult if you think there's something WRONG with being white and Christian. Who thinks that? Certainly not me. It just boggles the mind to think that there's this audience of white Christians jumping up and down in front of their TV sets saying, "he just called us white Christians! HOW DARE HE?!".

As far as it being exclusionary, it's not at all. I may not be a Christian, but I'm white; I don't find it isolates me. I bet you'll find a big section of the Christians who ARE Democrats are just as dismayed, if not more, by the sudden righward lurch of mainstream Christianity. They know of whom we speak.

I like Howard Dean's style. The right has gotten away with some many outrageous, provocative howlers over the years that these days no one bats an eyelash when someone comments about Democrats being vile and treasonous beasts. But when Democrats do it, it's suddenly such a scandal. And the thing is, Dean's never actually said anything spiteful or slanderous about Republicans; at worse he's only mentioned uncomfortable truths. We would do well to ignore the mock outrage that the right manufactures.


Alyosha, Dizzy Dean told a forum of journalists and minority leaders Monday that Republicans are "not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party … it's pretty much a white, Christian party."

"Not friendly to different kinds of people" is extremely insulting and inaccurate if you take the time to read some reality. "Monolithic" is insulting and rather monolithic of Dean himself. Now let's just conclude the source of these insults as "white Christian." He's not winning friends and influencing people here, and that IS HIS JOB. Did he just call white Christians unfriendly and monolithic? Pretty much, and why? He lacks the self-control to discuss these issues rationally. As you stated there's quite a few white Christian democrats. I go to church with thousands of them, but their numbers will start going down with folks like Dean piping off. Oh, they'll remain Christian, but they won't remain democrats.

The right has turned "academic and intellectual" into "elitist" with a very negative and insulting connotation. Dean's doing the same with white Christian. Not smart. It's good to be an academic, noone should be insulted by the charge. Likewise, white and Christian shouldn't be a political insult.

I agree with you on one point though. I like Dean's "style," and yes Torrid, I want to see some fighting from the democrats. The medicine I recently suggested I needed from Carl Hiassen was directly related to the issue of spineless democrats, and maybe I've calmed down enough to post on that topic without demagoging.

There's just a huge difference in admiring his pugnacious style and being thoroughly fed up with his substance, his very poor judgement. I hope that clarifies Torrid's confusion on the issue.

Finally, please, let's understand that neoconservatives are, by philosophy, secularists. When Dean understands his opponent, when Torrid and Sirota understand their opponent, they just may start talking sense to Christians, who are not the opponent. The dominionists aren't particularly pleased with W, but the neocons still love him.


Zap, I'm not confused at all; we simply disagree that a) this will be at all measurably noticeable in terms of electoral politics, and b) any kind of insult to any individual. Note that Dean said nothing about VOTERS; he said PARTY. And he was very clear what he meant by it: the party is not friendly to other types of people. Are they friendly to gays? No. Are they friendly to people of color? No. Are they friendly to immigrants and Muslims? No. I'm not sure how monolithic is insulting; it's simply a reflection of reality. You err to say he called white Christians unfriendly and monolithic; he called the REPUBLICAN PARTY that. And that is certainly true.

You are asserting that this will hurt him, particularly, you claim, among Democratic Christians. Do you have anything to bolster that claim? As I've pointed out, if there is any momentum being witnessed, it is certainly AGAINST the GOP, not towards it.

Finally, you bet your last dollar Christians are the opponent. Specifically, the "Christians" who have a stranglehold on Republican politics.


What TJ, Sirota and Howard said


Incidentally Zap..if pretty much all the Democrats (with the exception of Biden and maybe Lieberman) are unhappy with what Dean said..which appears to be the case...then who's actually truely upset here?

Welcome to Tempest in a Teapot 101..brought to you by your Republican Party.

Did you blow on that hot tea before you gulped it down? :)


Not that this needs proved.... but were Powell, Rice or Gonzales elected as Republicans? Of course we could all go run find examples of white Christians who are Democrats or black/hispanic secularists who are Republicans (well, maybe) but the large point of who the party serves will still be there.

On another point, while we can agree Zap that hysterical and divisive attacks are part of the problem in this country, I would have to say that on balance the Republicans have gotten away with this for years. The standard plan is to have affiliated but very seperate attack dogs demonize the traitor/communist/Jesus-hating Democrat while the canidate plays nicey nice in code words. The Democrats have been coming to a knife fight talking about which policies are best for the country. If Air America and Dean's approach will do anything it might be to balance the scales a bit.

(Though it should be noted that what Dean did is not even close to what gets thrown out by Republicans on a daily basis)


I take my tea iced. Cool is always the way to go, but I don't think that's sugar in the kool-aid Dean has some of you gulping. ;)

I'm curious to see Edwards' aggressive denial of distancing himself from Dean. I googled for it, and all I can find is him aggressively distancing himself, so the flip flop, if it's real, will be even more amusing. Please provide. The evil media has buried it.

Torrid, you claim not to be confused, and then everything you say supports my estimation of your confusion. I'm all too familiar with your willingness to spin a million circles in this type of discussion, and I'm not defending the GOP. I'm attacking a sadly flawed DNC chair. So, one last shot across the bow and the last word, as usual, is all yours (which by no means suggests I've been convinced).

There is a subtle but very real migration to the right among Hispanics and Blacks. There's a not so subtle flood to the right among Christians, some previously democrats and some previously inactive. But the drift is real, and it includes Hispanic and Black Christians. Dean's comments were nothing short of bogus. The GOP is chomping at the bit to nominate a black woman for President. Racists. Whiteys. The GOP has empowered more Jews than any administration in history. Nazis. Both of Bush's Sec of States have been black. He just put a black up for the bench. His favorite Supreme is black. His AG is hispanic. These people of color are all embraced by the party. The Dems need to get over themselves with the race baiting because it doesn't play well, and it is dishonest (which is what really bugs me the most).

Conservatism isn't racist. It was Democrats who fought the civil rights movement. Something even Digby considers a bizarre and sorry episode, and something many on the left seek to deny and spin. Go for it. I've heard it all.

Conservatism is hard on the poor. That doesn't make it racist. It's a logical fallacy that is worn quite thin and hurting the party. Even if it isn't, it's the same type of lie that we both heartily rebuke.

Are they friendly to immigrants? Moreso than the left. Who do you think was behind all the various programs that brought cheap labor to their corporate masters? The GOP and big Corp loves them some immigrants.

Spend some time at Stormfront where the real racists dwell and get a load of their hatred for Bush and his "sickening immigration policies and multi-culturalism." Then stop trying to lay that evil on conservatives. It's clearly a lie.

Who can forget Sharpton impaling Dean for his all white cabinet? Same kinda lie. Maybe Dean learned to sling it from that exchange. A word of warning though. This goes right back to the last time I criticized a Dean gaffe, and you, in the same confusion, argued attacking strengths as a priority. Dean can go ahead and mirror image the right wing slime machine, but he'll get his ass kicked... badly.

You invoke gays and Muslims. It should be noted that Muslims are some of our most culturally conservative citizens and they rallied strong for the GOP in 2000 and 2002. It was Iraq that sent them running, as it did me. But if the left thinks Muslims are with the program, they're sadly confused. The right is far from unanimous in it's opposition to gay marriage, even further in it's opposition to gay rights, and the whole issue is a bit of a smokescreen. Where's Bush's constitutional ban? Non-existent. I think any student of civil rights history knows that gays will eventually get fair treatment, and I'll agree with you that it's an ugly political tool. I won't agree that those opposed are "unfriendly." That has to depend on beliefs and a definition of "friendly." Needless to say it's relative, but you want to be an absolutist on this one.

What if Mehlman said, "Democrats hate babies. They are not friendly to different kinds of religious people. They want to undermine the companies that give us good jobs, and though they talk about minorities, if you look at their leadership, just a bunch of white humanists."

It would be just as stupid as what Dean said, but I could defend it with the same spin you're using. I'd really like to see the conversation grow up. Which means Dean needs to be replaced. The Dems need to speak "truth to power." Al Gore rocks, and he understands the importance of substantiating the truth. He makes the GOP very nervous. Dean makes them celebrate him as a Rove plant.


Nindid. Perhaps, but my belief is that the GOP is too gifted at slime, and getting into the muck with them is suicide. I'm worn out on this one, but there's a post over at TPM Cafe that I want to parse in detail. It's a serious topic. This isn't. And in parsing I will try hard to elucidate the importance of how the Left must attack the right.


Zap, I gladly take the last word, because you have worked yourself into an amazing froth, creating meanings and implications that exist nowhere else.

Here's Edwards' response by the way, from his blog.

It baffles me that you call Dean a flawed chair, when he is doing such an objectively strong job at it. For one thing, to claim all this nonsense as a flaw, it has to have some negative effect, doesn't it? There hasn't been any, and I would argue it's only had positive benefit. You keep acting as if this has some electoral impact. It would be the first time in history if it did, that's for sure. What's the flaw? That he speaks uncomfortable truths?

And I suppose that's where we are. Talk about spin--you're not seriously trying to argue that the GOP as presently constituted is not overtly hostile to minorities, gays, immigrants and Muslims, are you? That strains credulity. You go a long way in asserting that this has something to do with calling Republicans racist, which is why I say you are wildly extrapolating beyond anything that was ever said.

I disagree that either blacks or hispanics are moving to the right, subtly or otherwise. What's the basis for that? The gains for Bush in 2004 were minimal if any, and outweighed by the increase in the raw numbers of those voter categories. I also disagree there's been any flood of Christians to the right; they were already there, and if anything there's been a backlash away from the right in the last 4 months. The GOP is chomping at the bit to nominate a black president? Are you HIGH? What's stopping them? They aren't even ready to nominate someone like Pataki or Guiliani, for god's sake. It's such a dodge--and one you apparently buy into--to claim that the GOP isn't hostile to blacks because they have a couple in high places. One is a toady, and the other one was used up like a tissue and made into a fool in front of the entire planet, rendering him useless for the rest of the first term. And how exactly are Condi and Colin preventing the policies that are hostile to all the minorities not on the George Bush Employment Plan? It's telling that you say "THESE minorities are accepted by the party." They're the only ones.

You know as well as I do that saying "Democrats were against the civil rights movement" is equivalent to saying "Today's Republicans were against the civil rights movement,"--because it's literally the SAME PEOPLE. The racists left the Democratic Party and moved to the GOP, remember?

If Mehlman said what you suggested (and I'm sure I could come up with something relatively close from him or Gillespie), it would be wrong because those things aren't factual. What Dean has said IS factual, obviously. It IS the party of white Christians, clearly. That IS speaking truth to power. The white Christians are the ones wielding the power.

I think it's not being friendly to gays when laws are created to prevent them from entering into ANY contract, much less marriage--which is what was done in both Virginia and...Nebraska, I think. Just a couple weeks ago the latter was overturned for being so ridiculous as to simply prevent gays from having the right to legal redress. And you think the GOP isn't hostile to gays? The military is desperate for anyone to translate Arabic, but the administration is so consumed with bigotry that they'd rather soldiers got killed from lack of intel, then have a bunch of fags translate that intel. Bush's constitutional ban is non-existent? I beg your pardon? Constitutional bans on gay marriage are springing up all over the country.

It's swell that Muslims are culturally conservative, but I wasn't talking about how they might vote. I said the GOP is hostile to Muslims, and that's also a fact. Do you not remember the high general who proclaimed his God better...and was pointedly not rebuked for months? Let me tell you the story of Brandon Mayfield some time, if you don't know it. That's hostility.

I'm quite glad Dean makes the right celebrate. Not taking him seriously is a beneficial move for the left. Dean knows what he's doing, and it's working. This entire flap is a product not of Dean, but of the weak constitutions and abject fear of the old guard. The Democratic center as they are constituted now, must not be allowed to continue to help the Republicans win elections.


Alternate universes. Strange. I'll correct a long list of your completely erred beliefs when I get to the post I mentioned in email. This is just irreconcilable here. No biggie. :)


Not to pile on here Zap, but if you actually believe that the one about 'Democrats' being against Civil Rights then you either don't know your history at all or are simply being deliberately obtuse.

The Democratic Party's embrace of Civil Rights may be one of the most principled political stands of all time as it quickly resulted in the loss of what looked like permanent Democratic majorities. When all those Southern Democrats revolted from the embrace of Civil Rights for African-Americans is when the Republicans became competitive in Congress again and it eventually led to their current state of power.

Besides, are you really going to imagine that after voting solidly Democrat for 100 years of elections, the South suddenly found Barry Goldwater absolutely irresistible as a candidate and all converted to reliable Republicans ever since? C'mon... you are smarter then that.

If you actually need proof of this compare Goldwater's landslide defeat with that of 1928. In 1928 Hoover won ever single state besides the South. Do you really think it was Al Smith's New York accent and his Roman Catholic faith that pulled those states out for him?


Large voting blocks in the South will swing with whatever party is willing to look the other way to some version of segregation/discrimination/white superiority. Currently it is the Republicans who are willing to do so and so they control the South. Hopefully in another generation or two this ugly stain on America's body politic will fade, but it has held ever since Reconstruction and neither Rice nor Powell can change that.

Look, I don't mean to say that racism is only prevalent in the South or that all Republicans are racist - neither is true. It was something I did not understand until I lived in the South for a few years, but it really does drive a lot of the politics down there.

Actually, you could help me out with this one as I have seen this meme pop up in conservative circles more and more recently. Where did you first hear this? I know Rush was at it for awhile and I am curious if that is where it started or if it is more widespread then that. The whole thing is pure propaganda, part and parcel, but I am really curious as to its origins.

RonK, Seattle

TJ -- You know Billmon is a Kool-Aid drinking Deaniac from way back, don't you?

Are there any comments you would reconsider in this light?


Okay, my daughter is graduating from Kindergarten and celebrating the event with a massive water fight in a local park with an all day BBQ. I have been commissioned balloon filler, chief cook, bottle washer.

I cannot speak to Torrid's "jingoism." We founded this site, in part, to avoid it from others (heh). But, I will gladly respond to Nindid, at some length with indirect attempts to clarify Torrid's belief in falsehoods which Nindid seems to cautiously embrace.

I do appreciate the framework of Nindid's post, so I'll continue against my own advice. Also ALSO@! I haven't seen this topic vetted in a forum like ours, so rather than suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, I'll take arms against a sea of troubles. Which is a little frustrating because I feel there are more important uses of my limited blogging time, but perhaps not.

I have to preface my coming responses with some thoughts that will have to suffice for now.

Understand that history is written by the victors. As Orwell so beautifully exposed in essay, and frightfully considered in fiction, history is often distorted and revised by the victors. I am sometimes obtuse, but never deliberately, always willing to admit error (unlike so many know it alls), and I'm comfortable with civil rights history, unrevised.

In democratic politics the victors are almost always those with majority power. Neither party is innocent of using the power of revisionism for more power.

Currently, my party (the GOP) which is horribly misguided and weak in the fight against terrorism, has managed to reverse that truth. They are, according to popular opinion, much stronger than the opposition party on the issue. I believe this topic, over and above all the other issues discussed post-election, was the real difference maker in our last election; where it should be noted I supported John Kerry with more fervor than most Democrats.

I did explain to Torrid that on the civil rights lies, I have "heard it all before," and I challenged him to "go for it." He has. I owe this one more than it deserves, and it is disappointing to know the above posts "still" require rebuttal, but I will do my best.

Sometime late tonight or early tomorrow. That's the best I can do. Stay tuned. Thanks.

ps. I have filled a dozen balloons with ketchup and mustard. *woot*

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