Should we feel sorry for the press as they try, frantically, to apply a barrel of pancake makeup to Howard Dean and present this raging leftist to America as a soggy "centrist"? This is a really tough job. The entire political spectrum is going to have to be dragged off to the left of Massachusetts.
It's hard not to snicker at the thought of newspapers like The Washington Post declaring in a Sunday front-page headline: "As Governor, Dean Was Fiscal Conservative." Liberal reporter Michael Powell (last noticed in a furious fit of powder-puffing Senator Hillary Clinton) trotted out an assortment of Vermont "liberals" to declare that Dean was far too moderate for them. It should have come with a disclaimer: "The following story was gathered in Vermont, where the acceptable middle can be defined by the persistent re-election of Congressman Bernie Sanders, a flaming socialist."
Let's review a smidgen of what the networks and news magazines have desperately tried to explain away or paper over in the last few weeks. Dean is agnostic on the closing of Saddam Hussein's totalitarian torture house, and has to be poked and pushed into acknowledging that Saddam was a bit of a bad egg. Dean obediently followed the leftist judicial activists of Vermont's Supreme Court into providing gay "civil unions," which has led to a Republican electoral surge. Dean, according to the Cato Institute, led one of the nation's highest taxing and spending states. Dean backs partial-birth abortion, and thinks the whole issue of skull-sucking infanticide is "phony."
Perhaps most ridiculously, reporters make excuses for Dean's fierce attacks on President Bush. They make Democratic hearts "soar." They are not described as "red meat" for "Bush haters," although those words would apply. They use words like "brusque," "feisty," "testy" and "in-your-face."
What they're not doing is dipping into the vocabulary they used for conservatives, for example Newt Gingrich. CBS called Newt "bombastic and ruthless." NBC chided him as a "rabid attack dog against anything liberal." ABC claimed that his "slash-and-burn rhetoric against Democrats has made him the poster boy for political resentment and rage, and he's proud of it." Network reporters wrapped these attacks in "news" stories on Gingrich, and now Dean is only "feisty."
If any of these outlets breathe a word about the need for Republican "civility" in politics, please direct them back to everything Dean has said this year already. And he's just getting started.