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William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, January 25, 2004

I've been working a scream into my conversations, in an attempt to show that it is really mainstream behavior.

Seriously though, what I think is happening here is that the media, who really don't understand Dean, have decided that this episode captures him. I have not understood why he has been portrayed as "angry"-- he is not a particularly angry figure as far as I can see. High concept seems to be what political reporting is mostly about-- Gore the fabulist, Kerry the patrician, Clark as General Waverley from "White Christmas" (actually, that one may be mine). There is a need to have a hook, and the hook for Dean has been that he is this crazy Howard Beale character.

I've liked what Dean has been saying since at least this time last year, and I still do. I cannot imagine any other candidate standing up to what will come, and I have yet to see any other candidate say the things that should be said (except for Al Sharpton-- I wonder what he is really running for?). I do not think that Dean is an angry guy-- I think he stands for the things that I have always believed America is about, and I believe that he is running because he sees the country moving away from those things at a dead run under our present political leadership.

We are living in a dream world if we think that Kerry, or Edwards or Clark are capable of demonstrating that they are a real alternative to Bush. I think that they are-- I'd vote for Sharpton before I'd vote for Bush-- but they are not going to be able to demonstrate that they represent a different way of thinking. None of the Dems except Dean are capable of demonstrating that their vision of America is a better idea, and an idea that is close to the America that we wish we live in, and that we love because of what it can be. Dean speaks to me because his America is my America, and it makes me very sad that the reporting that is going on in this campaign is focusing on this sort of stupidness, instead of the things that are important.

Six months ago, Howard Dean would have called the media on it. I still think that's what he should do. When I look at the place we are in as a nation, I want to scream--anyone would. Because he's enjoyed being on the cover of Newsweek, I am afraid that the blunt-spoken Howard Dean may be reluctant to say, "Hey, let's talk about something real-- instead of the meaningless "American Idol" cotton candy that you are accustomed to filling the news hole with. Let's talk about the fact that the dollar is weaker than it has been in a generation. Let's talk about the fact that the Bush tax cut has made being middle class in America more expensive than it has ever been. Let's talk about the fact that we have the best health care in the world, except that we don't deliver it to the majority of our citizens. Let's talk about the fact that America has been a beacon of hope and freedom for two hundred years, and is now under attack, and stands nearly alone in the world because of the foreign policy that the Bush administration has decided to pursue. Then, when we are done talking about these things, ask yourself: don't you want to scream, too?"

Goddamnit, I want my country back.

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