Thursday, June 09, 2005

I'd Say It's More Than A Suggestion

Isn't it a pretty common play from a pretty common play book? From today's Chron:

Leading Democrats distanced themselves Wednesday from Howard Dean's characterization of the GOP as a "white Christian party,'' while suggesting that Republicans have seized on the Democratic Party chief's controversial remarks to divert attention from the Bush administration's failures at home and abroad.
Other Democratic leaders continue to disavow Dean's comments - none of them, apparently believe the Republican Party is a party of white Christians. I wonder, then, if we'll ever again be able to describe ourselves as the party of [fill in ethnic, or other, generalizing term here]. Rainbow Coalition, anyone? And if you'd seen or heard what we saw and heard in West Virginia, you'd know that the RNC has no problem at all painting the Democratic Party as the party of godless sodomites.

The article goes on to report that Walnut Creek Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher called Dean's remarks pejorative and personal. It's true, I suppose, if someone calls me a white Christian, well, look out, I can kick shins with the best of 'em.

Also - there's clarification that Dean's "I meant leaders" clarification did, in fact, refer to his earlier comment about Republicans never having made an honest living in their lives (as one commenter here pointed out yesterday).

And lest we let numbers get in the way - oh wait, let's:

In the wake of the controversy, a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 82 percent of Republicans identify themselves as "white Christians.'' But the poll also found that a majority of Democrats, 57 percent, also consider themselves the same -- as do two-thirds of all Americans.
Dean himself, last time I checked, also a white Christian, but whatever. And the Daily Show has made the point many times before. Just watch convention coverage. It's not a value judgment: demographics are demographics. What Dean was highlighting, was the conservative Christian agenda which is still very much alive and kicking. (And there really isn't much "conservative" about it - but nomenclature can be tricky.)

And finally . . .

A lot of yesterday's comments came back to "The Scream." Apparently I didn't describe the AV aspects of the event clearly enough. So here we go, one last time.

Raise your hand if you've ever been to a baseball game. Ah, yes, I see - many of you have. Now raise your hand if you've watched a baseball game on TV. Again, good to see such a strong response.

You know that part at the start of the game when the nice lady or guy gets up to sing the national anthem? Ever wonder why, when the crowd starts wildly cheering at the end, you can still clearly understand the singer? Through the magic of microphones, cables, and technology, the singers voice is amplified directly to broadcasters and through your TV to your ears. If you were standing on the field next to the singer, his or her notes would be all but drowned out by the thousands of fans. (this is also why singers routinely wear those little hidden ear buds which pipe back to them the sounds of their own voice so they can monitor their pitch, etc).

The same thing happens at a rally or anywhere one person is presenting to a potentially loud crowd with the aid of a microphone. The audio feed from the microphone will pick up whatever is closest to it and feed it directly to the speakers - or cable news networks. To the person holding the microphone, he sounds just like everyone else. To the person listening to the product of the microphone, the speaker's voice rises clearly above.

Oh - here's a good example: who remembers that one time George Bush called a New York Times reporter a dick? He leaned over and whispered it to that other Dick . . Cheney. Right, I knew you remembered. Well, none of the rally's attendees heard him say that because - that's right - the microphone that was still on was feeding the TV crews. In person, Bush's words were drowned out amid the ambient noise.

So that night in Iowa, in a room of screaming people, Dean rallied the faithful - raising his voice along with theirs in an very traditional rhetorical style. I doubt John Kerry has ever been that excited in his life - and we had that message beaten into us as well over the course of the campaign.

What sounds maniacal and wildly louder than anyone else in the room in fact was not. If Dean had handed the mic to a cheering volunteer in the front row, the volunteer would've sounded the loudest. But he didn't.

We're so used to carefully scripted events held solely for the benefit of at-home viewers, our one peak at an old-time, go for the gusto, rally the troops, once-more-into-the-breach-dear-friends gathering seems utterly nuts.

But it wasn't. You just let them tell you it was.

5 comments:

J'myle said...

Christiana--

I was at that rally. I certainly didn't hear the scream, and I was less than fifty feet from the platform, brown-nosing the HRC's then-president Elizabeth Birch.

Chris (Hutch) said...

First off, Bush called Adam Clymer a major league asshole - not a dick. :-) I swear that won him votes...

The difference between the locals in WV calling Dems godless sodomites and the leader of the Republican party doing it is huge. This guy is technically in charge of toeing the party line. C'mon!

What gets me is that you're defending Dean's comment as though he was truly trying to illustrate key differences between the parties by pointing out that we're white Christians. The guy is a loose cannon and proved it once again.

If he was doing a great job chairing your party, then defend him. But considering that he's fast becoming a complete failure as party chair, is losing the money race BIG TIME, and is making such STUPID comments, why not call for his head and get someone better in there?

cd said...

My mistake on the Clymer comment.

And the mailers I saw weren't from the WV locals - the return address was THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE. The RNC, DC address and all. Which is almost worse than just the leader mouthing off - it's an in-print "Democrats want boys marrying boys and they want to ban your bibles" load of crap.

There are demographic differences between the parties. That much is certain. The margin of those differences is certainly fair game for discussion. The point is I just don't think what he said was that mean, offensive, or out of line.

I don't think Republicans are the only ones who get smarm-rights, the only ones who get to make flippant remarks about the opponents.

Show me someone better and maybe I'd consider it. But I've seen no major failure yet. And certainly no major failure solely Dean's own.

There's lots of failures in the Democratic party. Of course, there's lots of failure in Republican policy - so who's doing more harm?

fnoppo said...

Feel free to e-mail me if you want a jpeg copy of the "Demcorats will Ban the Bible" mailing that was sent by the RNC to Arkansas and West Virginia. In addition to the rhetoric, it included a voter registration card with a return address for the State Republican Party.

How much would anyone here like to bet that any Democratic or Independent registrations sent back in were...ummm...lost.

As for Clymer, he's my mom's neighbor. Had brunch with he and his wife not too long ago. I'd call him gruff, but a great conversationalist.

Bethany said...

The failure is the fact that we (and the Western media) are discussing it. It dones't matter if he's right, it matters that Dean wanders around saying things that are glib and easily misconstrued. Anytime anyone has to open their mouth to say, "What Dean meant was," WE'RE LOSING GROUND. Of all the folks in the party, he HAS GOT to be the one to GET IT RIGHT, to SET THE TONE.

No more "it's not really his fault" excuses. It's time to get your act together. This is he big leagues and they're way too much on the line.

Meanwhile, I understand AV. I understand microphones. The point is: the fact that you have to spend time and ink arguing to people that Dean isn't maniacal, just overly amplified to the television public IS THE FAILURE!!! It may be unfair, but it is also, JUST PLAIN TRUE.

Anything you do that takes you off message, is a failure. And this guy is on a roll.