At least Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is colorful; you've got to give him that much. But he's not the guy to be leading the charge to reunite the Democratic Party with so-called "values voters."
The Washington Times' Greg Pierce reports that Dean was outraged when he heard that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist intended to call to a vote a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Dean called opponents of homosexual marriage "bigots." He said, "At a time when the Republican Party is in trouble with their conservative base, Bill Frist is taking a page straight out of the Karl Rove playbook to distract from the Republican Party's failed leadership and misplaced priorities by scapegoating LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) families for political gain, using marriage as a wedge issue." It's not only morally wrong, it is shameful and reprehensible," said the enlightened Dean.
Now flashback a week or so and picture Dean on the set of the evil bigot Pat Robertson's "700 Club." Dean appeared as part of his effort to reclaim "values voters" for the Democratic Party. On that program Dean reportedly said the party's platform provides that "marriage is between a man and a woman." Later, Dean had to apologize to gay rights leaders for incorrectly stating the party's platform position.
Surely I'm misreading one of these two reports. Which is it, Howard? Or, perhaps I should say, "Which face will you be wearing today: the bigoted or the enlightened one?"
Regardless of what the party's official position on gay marriage is, these two side-by-side incidents reveal the Democratic Party's predicament with "values voters." It appears they can't live with 'em and can't without 'em.
Democrats have been wrestling with this issue for some time now, realizing that Christian conservatives constitute a substantial part of the Republican voter base.
The Democrats' problem connecting with "values voters" was reinforced when 2004 exit polling data, along with other concurrent polling, showed that Democrats not only have difficulty connecting with evangelical Christians, but orthodox practitioners of most religions.