Howard Dean: Asshole

Let me repeat myself. You are an asshole.

Dennis Slater, in the comments to this item

What is an asshole? As I, and presumably Dennis Slater, use the term, it’s someone who has committed a wrong, but has managed to do more than that, adding a layer of gratuitous injury such that I’m well and truly pissed at him. (And it’s always a him. If a woman does this I use a different word.) An asshole isn’t just in the wrong; by going out of his way to inflict some harm that he could just as easily have avoided he’s managed to make it personal. It wasn’t an accident; he meant to do it. He acted with malice aforethought, exhibited mens rea, showed what a mean-spirited, vindictive S.O.B. he is. In short, an asshole.

I happen to think George W. Bush is an asshole. A lot of people think Howard Dean is an asshole. I’m pretty sure I’m right in my view of Bush, and I’m willing to stipulate that they’re right in their view of Dean.

Some people, like Kevin Drum of Calpundit, think this aspect of Dean’s personality will prevent him from winning the presidency. Drum posted about this (without actually calling Dean an asshole) in this item: Why I like Wes Clark. Drum wrote:

I like Dean’s energy, I like his passion, and I like the fact that he’s obviously not afraid to take on George Bush with gusto. But there’s a flip side to this, and I think you can see them both in his “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks” remark. On the one hand, he was making a smart observation: these guys ought to vote for Democrats and we shouldn’t alienate them. But on the other hand, it was a really, really stupid way to make his point and he was too stubborn to back down from it until it had already done him a bunch of damage.

So while I don’t have any huge policy differences with him — although he’s sounding a little too sincere in his opposition to free trade these days — his character seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Too much of his appeal is built on anger, he often comes across as defensive and perhaps a little bitter to people who aren’t true believers in the first place, and I think he’d get flattened by Karl Rove’s $200 million war chest. I feel bad saying that, but it’s my best guess.

For myself, I think Dean’s Confederate flag remark hasn’t damaged him much, if at all. For one thing, he’s well on his way to steamrolling the Democratic primaries. (This New Republic article on Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager, has some interesting coverage of that: Organization man.) I think Dean is already looking forward to the general election, and from that perspective, the Confederate flag comment makes a lot of sense. For every northern liberal it offends into leaving him (if any; what are they going to do, vote for Bush?) it probably makes a half dozen southerners sit up and take notice.

And what will they see? Well, maybe an asshole. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With the collective store of fear and anger this country has been carrying since 9/11, I think there are quite a few people who are ready to vote for an asshole for president.

In comparing Wesley Clark with Howard Dean on this point, I see an interesting paradox. Clark, of course, spent his professional career rising rapidly within an organization dedicated to killing people. For all that, though, he comes off (at least on TV) as a nice, non-threatening kind of guy. He’s smart and incisive, but he’s not particularly mean. He seems too rational for that. If you cut him off on the freeway he wouldn’t lean on the horn or flip you off. He might shake his head at you, but he’d also carefully reduce speed, put some distance between your car and his, and generally make sure he got the hell away from you.

Dean’s professional training was pretty much the opposite of Clark’s. As a physician, he took an oath to do no harm, which is about as far away from the Army’s raison d’etre as you can get. And yet, watching him talk, you get the sense that if you cut him off on the freeway, that feisty little doctor might very well give you a piece of his mind, or maybe even pull over and roll up his sleeves and settle it man-to-man, should you choose to escalate.

Now, from the perspective of a nice, thoughtful left-coaster like Kevin Drum, that looks decidedly non-presidential. But in the context of a culture where a piece of unapologetic knuckle-dragging like Kim du Toit’s The pussification of the Western male can provoke such a response that his Playskool web server has a nervous breakdown (note to Kim: real men use a real operating system on their servers), I think a scrappy Type-A doctor-turned-governor has a way better chance against Bush than a prissy schoolmarm of an ex-general, Karl Rove war chest or no.

19 Responses to “Howard Dean: Asshole”

  1. John F Says:

    Anyone remember Dennis Leary’s song from the 1990’s?


    Dean Might be an asshole but then again, he’s not a special interest bitch like the current administration, nor is he a cowardice asshole like the congressional democrats who are running against him (especially Dick Gephardt — what a pussy… strong words to describe Bush and then voting in favor of whatever Bush wants)

  2. Tuesday Says:

    I’m intrigued by the Alternet piece suggesting they run together. Dean/Clark in 2004.

  3. mmr Says:

    A friend and I have actually been speculating on a Dean/Clark or Clark/Dean ticket for several weeks.

    It gets more and more attractive by the day and I would dearly love to see Dean take down Bush in a debate, and Clark trump him on foreign policy. I’d also love to see Cheney up against either man (particularly Clark).

    Oh well, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  4. DH Says:

    When I heard the Dean sound-byte about the confederate flags, I didn’t hear an insult or a “pro-confederation” remark at all.

    I understood him to say essentially this: “Look here in the South lots of folks drive around with confederate flags in the back window of their pickup truck. I want to be *their* President, too.”

  5. Aaron Kulkis Says:

    Kim DuToit makes a hell of a lot more sense than whoever wrote this meandering piece of left-wing handwringing nonsense.

  6. Jeff Carroll Says:

    As a Tennessean who desperately wants to see someone besides Bush in the White House in January 2005, it disturbs me a great deal that Googlerace ( ) lists six Democratic candidates ahead of Bush for the searchterm “asshole”.

    The entire Democratic Party would do well, with immediate effect, to adopt the logical corollary of Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak evil of a fellow Democrat. Except maybe Zell Miller.

    Around here we would call Dr. Dean a “Yankee”, bless his heart.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Bill Clinton cut the CIA and NSA budget by over 1 billion dollars. He also authorized them to use less human intel gathering means. And rely more on electronic gathering of intel. So when the CIA didn’t pickup on the 9/11 plot. I wonder who’s fault that was. Those poor people died because of that sorry son of a bitch Bill Clinton… Their blood is on his hands.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    A vote for George W. Bush in 2004 is a vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

  9. Badger Says:

    A S S H O L E = D E A N,

    Dean blows chunks. I am from Vermont, where this type A personality asshole turned it into a friggen clubhouse state catering to rich assholes looking for ten minutes of peace and quiet,

    1). Destroyed the rural and susbstancy farmers

    2). Courted Conglomerate farmers and factory farmers (big business) to replace mom and pop farms.

    3). Ran logging and lumber companies into the ground, but again invited huge logging consortiums access to certain public lands.

    4). Used the eminent domain law to seize privately owned property for road, utilities, resorts and vacation homes.

    5). Fought bitterly to allow gay and lesbian civil unions in Vermont.

    6). Raised state levy on property taxes for tourism expansion and other pet projects.

    7). Is on record as having lied over 100 times during a nasty fight with the widow of the former Governor Dick Snelling as she sought to run and carry on Richard Snellings legacy of preserving Vermont for Vermonters.

    8). Sealed his personal records in a storage facility and refuses to allow public scrutiny and refuses a direct order to allow them to be opened except those which are official in capacity.

    9). Has a snot nosed fould mouth little bastard for a son that gets in more trouble than Mike Tyson, squirreled away some where, where he cannot make headlines for being a stupid ass.

    10). The list goes on, for all you Dean lovers out there, if you embrace duplicity, lies, detest a moral and christian lifestyle, like to kill the elderly with taxes, run people out of their homes and off their private property, make bedfellows with the very same companies and persons you publicly denounce and are clueless to the way the real world operates, this asshole is your man and hey, maybe you can convince this dumbass to run his mouth to some one like Saddam Hussein and get his ass shot before he can do any real harm, unless he wants to bend over and lets sick shits like Hussein screw him like he wants to us.

    Get a Clue, get off the bandwagon, open your eyes and listen to all sides of the story before you go gaga over a chareletan like Dean. Some one who answers the following question like so, should never be allowed to vote again: “Why would you vote for Howard Dean?”

    “Because he like swears and he like hates war and hates bush and hate big business and hate the army and like because he hates it when rich people don’t pay their fair share (HD is a fukin rich people, he and his wife earn over a 1/4 mil a year)and because he like hates people that mess with the environment and he like hates people that like the death penalty and he like hates gearge bush and I think he would be like really really cool to have as our leader.” No shit real answer 12.13.03 Merrimack Restaurant, Manchester, NH Dean Rally Memeber, wearing raggy blue geans and chewing fruity bubble gum.

    Yeah just the crowd I want in government during the next massive crises, and some one with a big mouth that hates everything about everything.

  10. Jimmy Jimmy Says:

    what a fag

  11. Democrats are idiots Says:

    One of these things is not like the other:

    Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Howard Dean, Al Gore

    One of them has integrity and a willingness to stand by his beliefs and convictions. Which one is it?

    Not Clinton, he sold out this country on more than one occassion. Lost Bin Hiding, Sent undersupplied and Undermanned troops to Somalia and Bosnia where we had no interest, and oh yeah that whole perjury thing.

    Definately Not Dean. Any man who can ridicule a President and finger point at the administration over homeland security when he couldnt keep 1 nuclear plant safe from faux terrorists as a Gov. obviously has no clue as to what it is to be competant even though he tries to pawn himself of on “mainstream” america as just that.

    And Unless Gore really did invent the internet and somehow it was body snatchers who continued the unconstitutional recounts after Bush won Florida 10 + times.

    So that leaves us With George W. Bush. A true President of these United States who has returned the dignity to an office devoid of it for 8 years.

    Dean please get nominated that way I can continue to laugh at you as I watch the democratic party be highjacked by the radical left.

  12. John Callender Says:

    Does it bother you that your main source of information is a guy who spouts off about “personal responsibility” and the “evils of illicit drug use” while he’s simultaneously gobbling handfulls of illegally-obtained prescription painkillers? Because I think that’d bother me.

    But then again, I _am_ a Democrat, which makes me an idiot, so that’s probably all it is.

  13. a Says:

    dean is such a fucking loser cant wait until he goes down

  14. rollercity Says:

    Do you honestly think Dean is on the way to winning the Democratic primaries? You are truly bold.

  15. John Callender Says:

    Well, it was a lot less bold when I wrote this, back in early November.

  16. Big Shoes Says:

    How we looking now? Anybody wanna chip in $5 to help bail loser boy Dean’s campaign? Pass that hat my way…

  17. Big Shoes Says:

    How we looking now? Anybody wanna chip in $5 to help bail loser out boy Dean’s campaign? Pass that hat my way…

  18. Big Shoes Says:

    How we looking now? Anybody wanna chip in $5 to help bail loser boy Dean’s campaign? Pass that hat my way…

  19. Big Shoes Says:

    How we looking now? Anybody wanna chip in $5 to help bail loser boy Dean’s campaign? Pass that hat my way…

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