By Rob Kall
It's the only way I can explain rabid attacks and the horrific, unethical, abusive cheap joke portrayal of Howard Dean by Fox TV, the right wing Talk show echo chamber and the right wing network news anchors on networks usually considered "genuine news sources" (unlike Fox, which anyone with half a brain knows to be the right wing/Bush propaganda arm.)
Assuming that Karl Rove lies at least as much as George Bush, and that he's coached his right wing sycophants in the congress and senate and in that ugly echo chamber they've spent billions to build-- Howard Dean is the man they fear the most, since he's the one they've attacked the most.
This column was inspired by an email exchange with Carolyn Kay a software developer turned political activist who hosts the website, www.MakeThemAccountable.com She'd said "Believe me, Karl Rove looks at Kerry as beatable. The right-wingers know how to pull a fake. Whoever Rove says he wants Bush to run against is the person he doesn't want Bush to run against. Whoever he says he doesn't want Bush to run against is the person he does want Bush to run against."
"Dean is able to rouse people, to get people involved in politics who have never been involved, or who haven't been involved for a long time. Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party establishment wants that kind of challenge to their power structure. "
Why would the Bush team fear this Northeastern Governor of a tiny state? Because, outside of Dennis Kucinich, he's the only one who has had the guts to step out of the staid, "correct" political role and persona and attack Bush for being a failure and liar. He's shown that he could mobilize the anti-bush vote in a phenomenal way.
When Howard Dean emotes, he's reflecting the anger of tens of millions of Americans, and when he whoops it up, he's expressing the hope, and building the enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands of people who not only supported him, but who woke up and energized the democratic drive to kick George Bush our of the White House and "send him on a one way trip back to Crawford Texas." The right wing is afraid of that.
While the other democratic candidates are not bad people and the democrats will probably get behind any of them, Dean has fire in his belly. He's the kind of man who will break people out of their comfortable mindsets and energize them to not only vote, but to get out and pull other voters into the election pool . It's his passion that makes the magical chemistry happen. People vote more from their hearts than from their heads.
And Dean is smart too. Just about any of the Democratic candidates shine compared to Bush unscripted, who is the most frighteningly ignorant, ill-educated, flagrantly irresponsible president this nation has seen in recent memory. But Dean can think on his feet... most of the time.
Now, two times, the right wing media, and the right wingers in the media have slammed Dean with deceptive, distorted, abusive, jeering, unveiled partisan coverage, mocking Dean for his anger problem, calling him crazy.
The problem may be that these right wing fake journalistic shills have emotional expression problems. They are quite comfortable, snidely, derisively making fun of an honest man either talking tough (just like Ronald Reagan did in a similar situation) or talking with healthy passion and exuberance. This is not surprising. Blocking of emotional expression is common in some cultures. These cultures treat strong emotional expression, ie., facial or verbal expression as unacceptable. It is most common in the far east, where, in one study, 5% of cadavers were found to have no sign of smile muscles. Here in the US there are certain groups which tend to be more or less passionate in their religious ceremonies-- Protestants, Episcopalians and conservative Jews, for example tend to be more reserved in their churches and Temples than Baptists, Born-Agains and Reconstructionist Jews. I don't stand in judgment of these different groups. And I don't suggest that they are psychologically pathological, or crazy for manifesting a more "numbed" emotional exterior.
The numbing of emotional expression has actually become a hot new trend. After all, when you get Botox injections to get rid of crows feet, you are literally numbing a key smile muscle that produces the "Clint Eastwood" smile. Or when you get Botox injections for the wrinkles (the "elevens") on your forehead, between your eyebrows, you are numbing the frown muscles associated with anger, disgust and contempt.
So... emotional expression is not necessarily what we might call "hot" these days. But in my book, being emotionally expressive, letting your deepest feelings out in front of a crowd is honest and courageous and open. It shows you don't have anything to hide. It's an asset that Dean has that his opponents can't easily acquire, if they don't already have it.
Now Kerry is a good man, who is probably more liberal than Dean (an issue the chair of RNC has already raised,) but Kerry is the opposite of Dean emotionally. He sometimes has a problem getting a smile on his face. It's obvious he's been coached lately to smile more, though his speech writers have still failed to add content in the middle of his speeches to help light up smiles in stump speeches. I watched him live twice, once for at least 20 minutes, and he failed to break a smile one time. Kerry can smile just fine when he's interacting one on one with people, so I have no doubt about him being a person who can genuinely connect with his feelings. The challenge for him is to figure out how to tap his inner light, the light that turns on his genuine smile when he's meeting new and old supporters. If he can't develop new skills for showing his passion, and these are necessary for engaging and inspiring passion in his supporters, then Kerry will win the primary and lose the presidential election fight with Bush. People vote more from the heart than from the head.
On the other hand, Bush, in his first year or so in office had a major smirk problem. The left wing websites and a few lefty pundits made comments on it, but it was screamingly obvious until he had major help fixing it-- zipping it, so it rarely slips anymore. Watch his minions-- Condoleeza, Colin, and others while he's talking. They're keeping their faces totally serious to help him remember not to make with the smirking chimp look. But... the mainstream media didn't jump all over Bush and his sleazy smirk, that made him look as untrustworthy as he deserved to be treated. No. They ignored it.
Today, on Fox, instead of using a music sound track, they use electronically snipped, clipped and filtered cuts of Howard Dean, mocking him, doing a non-verbal attack job. I assume that Fox takes some guidance from the Rove-Bush Whitehouse, either directly or indirectly. It's a very smart strategy to take a candidate's strength and use it against him. Now, Dean is justifiably being extra-cautious about letting out his feelings. That will be a mistake. I suggest that he use the opposite approach. Be himself, let out the feelings and let people see that he's not crazy, just whole hearted and genuine.
Whichever Democratic primary candidate in the lead will inevitably be attacked by the right wing media blitz. That's why all of the Primary candidates should get behind Dean when he is attacked and Kerry or Clark or Edwards, whenever the right wing media attack them. If Kerry and Edwards, the two winners in Iowa were to deplore the way Dean is being attacked, it could only help their images and it would take the idea of positive campaigning to the next level. It would make the right wing media seem even more biased, despicable and inappropriate.
The botoxed news anchors might be jealous, might be afraid to let their feelings out. But Howard Dean shouldn't be and you should trust him even more for his courage and honesty.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor of opednews.com. He has contributed to the campaigns of Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean, and will be happy to support John Kerry if he wins the primaries. Rob has lectured on emotional expression and smiling since 1985 and has a website related to this www.positivepsychology.net
afterward: Sunday, Jan 25 Check out a tape of raw footage of Dean's speech, with the roaring crowd, in context. Fox, CNN and all the other media that played doctored tapes should be ashamed. And... they seem to have stopped running the tapes. This was an example of the worst, most partisan, unethical, unprofessional journalism in recent history. It was like mass psychosis. Matter of fact, it was so bad, Dean should sue the bastards.
Letters from readers:
My theory is that what Rove really fears most is the prospect of Bush-Dean head-to-head debates. He fears Dean's grassroots strategies also, and the fact that he raises money well, but it's the debates that strike fear into the hearts of the Republicans.
Why? Not only because this is where Bush is weakest, but because Dean doesn't play by the rules. They can count on Kerry to take the Gore approach -- logical, calm, boring.
But they have no idea what Dean might throw at Bush in a debate -- or how he might push Bush's buttons in a way that pushes W. to show his real colors.
You can't coach Bush for a debate with Dean, is what I guess I'm saying.
out the last part of Dean's speech, I called a friend who is a sound engineer.
Your readers might be interested to know I learned TV crews typically use several microphones when covering a venue that size. By adjusting the levels louder or softer on each mike, technicians can rebalance the sound.
This is usually done for clarity's sake but apparently the filtering done on that Dean rally footage eliminated almost all of the audience noise, and the rock-concert level cheering was kept muted even when Dean wasn't speaking. The effect of subtracting almost all the wildly cheering campaign volunteers plus using only
that last little snip of footage makes Dean's appearance look peculiar, as if he had suddenly erupted in a quiet room. Pretty strange.
Whether the the isolated "whoop" was highlighted to deliberately create the appearance that Dean had lost his mind is not something I care to speculate on, but it does remind me of the night Michael Moore won an Oscar - only to find out later that home viewers didn't hear the audience applaud when he spoke out against the Iraq War although the greatly amplified booing of a few pre-positioned stagehands was crystal clear.
Considering the dog-piling Howard Dean has endured, I really admire him for keeping a somewhat humorous perspective, and for implacably continuing to carry his campaign forward. Regardless of which candidate your readers support, I hope we all insist that our media strives for much better accuracy in its coverage of each and every one of them..