It wasn’t but a month ago that Howard Dean was saying we’ve got to stop talking about “guns, God and gays” in this country and start talking about real issues like education and health care. At one point, he even went so far as to angrily declare “I don’t want to listen to fundamentalist preachers anymore!”
But it didn’t take long for Dean to change his tune. Virtually assured of wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, and focused on winning over a skeptical South Carolina electorate, Dean is now pronouncing himself a changed man and discussing his religious faith with anyone who will listen.
(Among other stories, Dean is sharing the tale of how he switched from an Episcopalian to a Congregationalist because of a dispute with the church over, of all things, a bike path.)
Such political opportunism is nothing new, but St. Dean just couldn’t leave bad enough alone. Take his response to a question about his 2002 trip to Israel:
“If you know much about the Bible — which I do — to see and be in the place where Christ was and understand the intimate history of what was going on 2000 years ago is an exceptional experience,” he said.
Asked to name his favorite book in the New Testament, Dean cited Job — which is in the Old Testament — because “it’s such an allegory.” More than an hour later, he came back to correct himself, telling reporters he had misspoken.
You see, it’s not just that Dean frequently says one thing and then says another. Most politicians do that, usually as a political necessity, and in a few cases because they’ve actually become enlightened on an issue.
No, Dean is worse. He is a stubborn and arrogant know-it-all who not only thinks he has all the answers, but frequently displays hostility and contempt toward anyone who would beg to differ.
Let’s look at another example. Last month Dean, a neophyte in foreign affairs, huddled with his advisors and then suddenly declared he could teach the president a thing or two about national security. But while stridently criticizing Bush’s foreign policy, Dean has committed about a dozen gaffes and ended up sounding like an ass on more than one occasion.
It’s enough that an alarmed James Carville said “I’m scared to death that this guy just says anything. It feels like he’s undergone some kind of a political lobotomy here. He seems to not appreciate the glory of the unspoken thought.”
Dean likes to go around telling audiences that “The biggest lie that people like me tell people like you is, ‘Elect me and I’ll solve all your problems.'” Fair enough, but equally vexing is the candidate’s refusal to use one more phrase: “I don’t know.”