Cultural Revolutions

Passing for Democracy

Howard Dean almost blew it.  With a slight edge in the polls and a strong following among both blacks and young, college-trained white professionals, the ex-governor of Vermont was beginning to look like the next nominee of the Democratic Party.  Then he said something nice about white “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks” and emitted the platitudinous insight that “We can’t beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats.”

In what passes for the “democracy” that President Bush wants to export to the rest of the world, that was enough to bring Mr. Dean close to the brink of ruin.  His rivals for the nomination pounced at once, with everybody’s favorite foe of bigotry, the Rev. Al Sharpton, yelling that the Confederate Flag is “America’s swastika” and North Carolina rival John Edwards sniffing that Dean’s words were “condescending.”  (Not known is what the North Carolinian had to say about Sharpton’s smear of the flag as a Nazi symbol.)  Dick Gephardt protested, “I don’t want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks,” while John Kerry mooed that “I would rather be the candidate of the NAACP than the NRA.”  There is no evidence that either gentleman will be the candidate of any of the above.

The Dean episode...

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