When DNC Chairman Howard Dean speaks I listen. For his infinitely introspective articulations? No, for entertainment purposes. The “I have a scream” speech was no fluke; Dean says a lot of things that are a little bit stupid. I’ve heard him pander to just about every group. On Tuesday, it was the clergy at a religious conference.
One wonders how Dean spent the ’60s. We do know that he remembers the decade fondly, and regardless of its relevance it served as the basis for his remarks to the religious leaders assembled in DC Tuesday. “We’re about to enter the ’60s again,” declared Dean. I’m not sure what you remember about the ’60s, but I think of them exactly as Dean does: an “age of enlightenment led by religious figures who want to greet Americans with a moral, uplifting vision.” Other highlights of the era we are evidently returning to are its noble culture of morality and a sense of we’re “in it together.”
Dean kept morals and religion central in his remarks. But listening to his remarks I think one would get the sense that Dean’s “religious” agenda might be a little less Biblical and a little more populist. “I’m talking about moral principles like making sure everybody in America has health insurance” and “making sure no child goes to bed hungry at night” said the DNC chair.
In other parts of his talk, Dean offered some shocking admissions of the past failures of the Democrats, in, of all eras, the ’60s. The glorious view of the ’60s seemed to disappear as Dean changed his tone to explain “I’m not asking to go back to the ’60s; we made some mistakes in the ’60s.” On the subject of Democratic public housing initiative back then he admitted “we essentially created ghettoes for poor people.” He said that LBJ’s Great Society was negative because “we did give things away for free, and that’s a huge mistake because that does create a culture of dependence…”
Later Dean returned to more traditional Democratic rhetoric, dissing Bush’s Tax cuts, calling for a big jump in minimum wages, and saying America is “about as divided as it has been probably since the Civil War.” On what its not readily apparent.
Dean ended with a return to deep spirituality, sincerety dripping as he explained:
“I came in the wrong door when I first got here,” Dean said. “I came in the back, and everybody was talking about praising the Lord, and I thought, ‘I am home. Finally, a group of people who want to praise the Lord and help their fellow man just like Jesus did and just like Jesus taught.’ Thank you so much for doing that for me.”