From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
New Hampshire presidential debate

January 22, 2004 5:17 PM

Dean just addressed the "concession" speech issue. First, he felt compelled to let people know that his hoarse throat wasn't from yelling, it was because he is "cold." I think he meant to say he has a cold. Then he reiterated the campaign's talking point about rallying the 3,500 kids that came out to Iowa.

The whole thing was just sort of blah... I was expecting a great self-deprecating one-liner or something.

Then he went into the Bush Tax stuff, which got him right back on message.

We'll see how he does the rest of the debate. No longer the frontrunner, he's clearly not in the crosshairs. That's good... and bad. The media is portraying this debate and the Clinton-esque interview tonight with his wife Judy as Dean's life-or-death moment. Not sure that's really sunk in.

UPDATE 5:23 PM: Okay, he just addressed it again. While still not giving me my joke, it was much better. Made a quip about "hooting and hollering in Iowa" and "people having fun at my expense" then transitioned right into his principled, yet unpopular, stands on the war and civil unions. Back to basics.

UPDATE 5:29 PM: Sharpton made the joke -- "Don't worry about it Howard. If I had spent the money you did in Iowa, I would have been hollering about only getting 18% of the vote."

UPDATE 5:31 PM: Sharpton doesn't have the slightest idea what the Federal Reserve does. Peter Jennings' questions seem targeted at this. He asked John Edwards about Islam trying to show he doesn't know anything about it. Edwards handled it much better than Sharpton did.

UPDATE 5:42 PM: Jennings tried to hang Clark on his Michael Moore endorsement.

UPDATE 6:39 PM: Dean's starting to joke about it now. Whew. It took him awhile to get going, but he's doing well now.

UPDATE 6:52 PM: Dean did fairly well overall. So did Lieberman of all people.

More from the archive in Howard Dean.

New Hampshire presidential debate (01.22.2004)

Next Entry: Moveon fights back (01.23.2004)
Previous Entry: "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" (01.22.2004)

Read the 9 comments.


"I was expecting a great self-deprecating one-liner or something"

As long as Dean stays within himself, I'm happy. I think he handled it beautifully, and Sharpton gave Dean a real gift, by making that joke.

At this point, I'm calling the debate for Dean. Now, only Primetime at 10 PM and Letterman to go. If he can handle all of those this beautifully, I'll be happy.

Letterman is the most dangerous. I don't think Judy was with him when it was taped, and she would really help soften his rough edges. I'm sure Dean did fine on Primetime.

Letterman can be vicious, but I think he'll handle Dean carefully. He still doesn't know for sure what will happen, and he doesn't want to piss off the next President of the United States. :)

Thu Jan 22 2004 6:17 PM


That's terrific. Sharpton obviously doesn't know where Iran is, either. You have to give him credit for his debate skills - his Dean joke was a smokescreen so he could answer the Fed question - although his answer had to do with the IMF.

Thu Jan 22 2004 6:43 PM


Oh, that was too funny! The questioner asked Dean to list a bunch of states he could win, an obvious ploy to get Dean to play off of his infamous speech. And he ended up listing a bunch of states. People laughed, Dean ignored it, and he looked calm, focused, and presidential.

If there's any word I would use to describe Dean in this debate, it's "presidential". He didn't lose his fire, but he was deliberate, focused, and he covered a lot of important points.

The way he dealt with the question about leading with his heart was outstanding. He went through his record as a governor and talked about how he wants to bring the country together. That we need someone in Washington who leads with his heart and lays it all on the line, rather than someone who says what he thinks people want to hear just to get elected.

Dean got a lot of applause for that answer. I can't imagine a better performance for Dean. Of course, I thought Gore creamed Bush in the debates, so I'm interested to hear what the reaction is people who aren't so interested in policy as I am.

Thu Jan 22 2004 6:45 PM


On CNBC, as the results rolled over him, Dean groused that he had become the front-runner and then "all you in the media had some fun at my expense." How Clintonesque. In 1992, Clinton regularly whined that he was the most media-slammed and scrutinized candidate in American history. (You never heard that from Ronald Reagan, who perhaps was.) Compared to Dean, however, Clinton would have a point, having had to fake and feint around the career-testing punches of Gennifer Flowers and draft evasion before the New Hampshire primary. What scandal has Dean faced by comparison? Where's the media hostility?

NBC aired a Lisa Myers story suggesting that Dean had demeaned the Iowa caucuses in the mid-1990s on a Canadian public TV show called "The Editors." That's hardly a potential deathblow. Many press people came to Dean's defense on that score. In the next week's editions, those supposed Howard-haters at Time and Newsweek both suggested Dean was right to criticize the caucuses. He was even pitched as a truth-teller.
Most pundits expected a Dean victory in Iowa, not the pasting he received. Most media outlets treated Dean like a Democratic front-runner right up to Caucus Night. Already this year, Dean has received another three news magazine covers, which adds up to six. That's six more than John Kerry or John Edwards gained before Iowa voted. Both Time and Newsweek helpfully surrounded Dean's face with the American flag.

Then there's the easy treatment on TV. On Jan. 11, ABC's George Stephanopoulos repeatedly allowed Dean to claim that the bottom 60 percent of taxpayers received an average of only $304 in tax relief. But the Annenberg Public Policy Center, a liberal establishment organ, has called Dean's claim misleading since Dean arrived at his figure by averaging in the cuts received by the bottom 60 percent of households, "which includes all those who paid no taxes in the first place and thus got no cut." Dean was dishonestly demeaning Bush, and why not? The network fact-checkers were asleep.

On Jan. 6, CBS prepared a really tough "Evening News" story to accompany Bill Bradley's endorsement: "The Dean campaign also, apparently, offers America new love, as CBS's Richard Schlesinger reports." Schlesinger described how young people are finding dates at Dean's Meetup events, as a Brooklyn woman was looking for "Mr. Right," or as they joked in this case, "Mr. Left."
Can't you just feel that boiling media hatred?

Perhaps the funniest claim came from CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer on Dec. 28. To him, Bush is "a polarizing politician" who "seems to have become someone that you either love or you hate." But Schieffer hailed Hostile Howard as a ... uniter? Yes. Even though Dean can't make nice with his fellow Democrats, Schieffer suggested Dean "is a hit" because he supposedly brought so many new people "together" through his Internet campaigning, and "you have to admire him for doing that. And in the long run, I think that's very good for politics."

Even after Dean greeted the results with a raging, growling, campaign-imploding speech, two of the networks tried to be nice, even as the rest of the country was already in stitches over his uncontrolled "YAAAAAAAAAH!"

ABC's Claire Shipman described it only as "aggressively upbeat," and Charles Gibson helpfully summarized "he's still feisty, says he fights on." In his interview, Gibson didn't even ask Dean a question about his meltdown. CBS's Cynthia Bowers described it simply as "brusque." The toughest words interviewer Hannah Storm could muster for Dean were that some found it "decidedly unpresidential." Only NBC's Katie Couric directly hammered the growler: "You were quite fired up, quite passionate, but some people feared you might implode."

Dr. Dean may not be the Democrats' prescription against President Bush. But the blame doesn't lie with the media.

Fri Jan 23 2004 12:22 PM

Jim Gilliam:

There's two ways to look at the lack of "scandal" in the media coverage of Dean.

1. the media is being nice to Dean (mean media's interpretation) or

2. the media is looking for any little thing they can to take him down a notch when there's really nothing there.

You didn't once mention the press's fascination with the "angry Dean." Without that fascination, the debacle after the Iowa caucus would have simply been really funny, and not the near death blow it became. Dean unwittingly played right into the media's caricature of him as an angry man, when all he was trying to do was give a positive fired up message to his troops.

And shame on Dean and his advisers for not grasping what the "fire up the troops" speech would look like on national TV.

Fri Jan 23 2004 12:36 PM


Without "Angry Dean" what does he have to run on?

Mon Jan 26 2004 6:35 AM


"Angry" is the wrong term to use for Dean. He's a man on a mission. That's the only way I can think of to describe him. Bush is the problem, and Dean is the cure.

I'm really surprised that the campaign allowed themselves to be ambushed by the press like this. It was completely preventable, because we all knew that the press and other candidates were out to prove that Dean is "angry". They should have seen it a mile away, but they walked right into the trap.

Another thing - maybe Dean is actually too nice. I've heard a lot about dirty tricks by the Kerry and Edwards campaigns. I'm pretty sure that's how Bush won in 2000. From everything I've read, Dean's campaign has mostly been above board. Maybe, he would be better served if he had more of a mean streak.

Dean is relentless and determined, but I think he might play too fair, which is a sad statement on politics in this country.

Mon Jan 26 2004 6:10 PM


Actually I thought that was Dean's mantra, we are the pissed off left that is tired of business as usual in the party leadership. If he's content with the status quo what's he running for?

As for playing fair, the public perception is that Dean can dish it out but cries foul when it comes back his way. If he thinks the members of the democrat party are playing rough, what would he do when faced with a one on one fight in a presidential race? Right now he's just getting a little jostled in the pack - nobody as yet to really start thowing haymakers.

Tue Jan 27 2004 6:20 AM

Birds of a feather:

'Ex-Deaniacs for Clark'

( - Here come the "Ex-DeaniacsForClark" -- a web-based movement dedicated to former Howard Dean supporters who have switched their allegiance to General Wesley Clark. The website announced its official launch on Monday, touting a "NH Final Push" campaign. According to a press release, the website is attracting Dean converts in "multiple states." "Ex-Deaniacs for isn't an anti-Dean site, it's a pro-Clark site from a Deaniac's perspective," said Josh Lange, co-founder and webmaster of the effort. "We respect Howard Dean and the movement he inspired, but we have come to believe that General Clark's progressive beliefs, Southern electoral strength, and Presidential temperament make him the right candidate for America in 2004." Robin Stamm, an Ex-Deaniac for Clark in New Hampshire, said she will always be grateful to Dean for energizing citizens about the political process again, but she switched her allegiance to Clark after seeing a speech he gave in New Hampshire. "Clark reinvigorated my pride in being an American," the press release quoted Stamm as saying. "His ability to do that convinces me he can beat Bush, and -- better yet -- he'll do a first rate job as our next president."

Tue Jan 27 2004 12:07 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


Add to My Yahoo!

Last week's soundtrack:

jgilliam's Weekly Artists Chart