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People Powered Meltdown

Kerry wins, Edwards gains ground and everyone is talking about Dean.

Let's clear one thing up first. Don't listen to cries of Deanophiles. The media did not make Dean lose. The media did not conjure up the Angry Young Man image (Angry Middle-Aged Man?). It's not the media's fault that every time I would see a photo of Dean, this Billy Joel song popped in my head:

There's a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl,
He's always at home with his back to the wall.
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost,
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.

Dean created his own image. The press only played on it. And the more the press played on it, the more animated Dean became and the more groupie-like his fans became.

dean2.jpgNormally, it takes an AYM a couple of years to go through all the stages we saw Dean run through last night. From passionate to righteous to mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, right into full blown meltdown. All in a matter of hours.

With only the first step in a long, long journey to November taken, Dean has already veered from his path and is going to have to struggle to catch up to Edwards and Kerry. The race is on and Dean has stumbled at the gate. Insert more cliches and metaphors here.

The grass roots/internet movement that has been the hallmark of Dean's campaign turned out last night to be a man-behind-the-curtain scenario. It looked much bigger, stronger and fearsome than it really was. Perhaps his supporters in Iowa were more vocal. Perhaps they knew how to play the press better than the camps of the other candidates. Whatever the reason, Dean's posse came off bigger than life in the weeks leading up to Iowa. And when push came to shove, it turned out not to be about image or a tour bus full of orange hats or a blog. It was about electability.

Sure, Dean has been great for the media. He's a cartoon character with a million expressions. He's the cult of personality all shoved into one package. He's People Powered Howard and he's going to prove that the little guy does make a difference. He shoots lasers with his eyes and speaks in tongues. All that is well and good - it gives one the impression of power and leadership, it plays great on tv and it creates a lasting image - but it doesn't get you the votes. In the end, the people of Iowa decided they wanted to elect a president, not a personality. And most Iowans are probably breathing a sigh of relief today.

Dean's very public meltdown last night will be the subject of jokes, cartoons and a million articles and blog posts today. But don't be fooled by that Linda Blair imitation he did last night. If Dean does not get the Democratic nomination, it will be because of a combination of things; the pandering to the far left, the arrogant visit to the MLK ceremony yesterday, the "we're not any safer" mantra and, in a way, the cult status he has garnered. He is a victim of his own hype right now; the fandom that his followers have created has become a smoke and mirror act and in an odd twist, Dean himself has fallen for the trick.

The whole People Powered Howard thing reminds me very much of the movie Tommy. You remember that song at the end?

Right behind you I see the millions.
On you I see the glory.
From you I get opinions.
From you I get the story.
Listening to you I get the music.
Gazing at you I get the heat.
Following you I climb the mountain.
I get excitement at your feet!

That's replaced the "Angry Young Man" lyrics in my head. Dean's followers have created the fan frenzy and Dean is having a little problem living up that god-like image they've given him. I wonder how many of them cringed when Dean did his voice-changing, red-faced, wild-eyed, evangelical minister impression last night? All he needed was a folding chair and a wrestling wring and he'd be Hulk Hogan, putting on a show for the kids.

So how much of Dean is carnival barker and how much is the real deal? Will his followers climb that mountain with him or will they stay a few feet away and watch him warily? Will he tone down his act and stop shooting daggers out of his eyes? Will the People Powered Howard tour bus drive him to success or forget to put on the brakes and crash and burn at the bottom of the mountain?

All these questions and more may or may not be answered in New Hampshire, the next installment of the continuing saga of On the Road With Howard Dean. Brought to you by the makers of Zoloft(c) - for a kinder, gentler you.

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Comments

I think it's hilarious myself. His angry, anti-war, anti-Bush, buck-the-establishment attitude has bit him in the ass. If he'd stop acting like a psychotic for more than a second, maybe people would take him more seriously. I, for one, am glad that the good people of Iowa had the good sense to put him in his place.

Funny, I had a different song in mind during his speech: "Smile, though your heart is aching..."

I like the Zoloft tagline.

I half expected to hear a "Sieg Heil!" after he shouted the name of every state. Very Hitler-esque in his delivery last night, if not in his message.

Yeah...what was that all about? Was he trying to convince us that he did, in fact, know the names of most of the states? Very impressive, Howie. And that bizarre shrieking noise he let out at the end- it kinda freaked me out.

Didn't we get enough of the frickin' Hitler comparisons with MoveOn and Margaret Cho? Lord knows I'm no Dean supporter, but what, exactly, is "Hitleresque" about his message?

The delivery, for one, DaveD.

Sigh, the Democrats are going to get hammered by GWB ultimately. And they're going to spend a stupid amount of money doing it. But it has to start somewhere, Dean might as well collapse first.

Dean is done. That's sad. He's got all the money - what's he going to do with it? It's going to be embarrassing to lose a state that is considered a "home" state.

Buh bye Howard - back to obscurity for you.

Has one syllable ever killed a candidacy before? Does anyone want the man who finished his speech with an angry, incoherent, "Aarrrgghhh," to be the one with his finger on the button?

Exactly Charles, or in the operating room.

I saw an Iowa focus group on MSNBC and several people mentioned Dean's anger as the key reason they shifted their support to Kerry. Dean's rudeness to the man who asked was told to sit down and shut up put them off. An image-handler miscalculation that brought him neither gravitas nor votes.

I live in Iowa and I think it's fair to say that we were subjected to more media frenzy than the rest of the nation. In the last week to ten days, local media did turn on Dean. If I weren't at work, I'd give you examples. I knew I should've gotten political on my site to document this sort of crap.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2004/01/17/bush_satire/index.html

I prefer to think of Dean as a 21st Century Walt Whitman (albeit a straight one) sounding his barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.

Don't forget the next lines from AYM:

I believe Ive passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.

That much said, much of his rhetoric detracted his message. Sure, 18 months ago no one would have predicted 4th in Iowa. But you ruined that showing with emotional outburst, taking what could have been a chance at a contrite 4th place showing and turning it into the very well stated WWF show.

Since my TV is only hooked up to my PS2 I haven't seen Dean speak, except for that clip you're talking about (downloaded it)...

But he looks like Arsinio Hall. Wo wo wo wo wo!

He's all scary looking in still pics, seeing him in action, he changes his expression so fast, he comes off as a class clown not a madman.

It's not presidential sounding, but then Bush doesn't sound presidential either.

I don't buy that the speech will affect anyone who was undecided... It might be funny but it's not a liability.

Charlie: Yeah it was the best WWF speech ever!

I already said that on LGF.

I don't think it will be a big deal, but I don't think he came off badly... So if huge deal is made of this it will help Dean by making his critics look shallow.

I think Dean has lost his chance to connect with anyone in America who isn't already one of his supporters. He did the worst thing he could have possibly done last night, in delivering a manic fire and brimstone speech directed toward his faithful when he should have been trying to reassure the rest of us that he is really is sober, stable and dependable. IMO, he's toast.

The good news for us Democrats is that Edwards, Clark and Kerry would all have a much better chance against Bush than Dean. I think Edwards in particular could make a very strong run against Dubya. The next few weeks should be very interesting...

Was anyone else reminded of Kermit the Frog? Dean's concluding yell struck me as exactly like the one that that muppet always uttered after getting overenthused about the night's guests on the Muppet Show...

Jeff: you got an actual LOL from that image.

YAAAAAARRGHHHHHH!!! -- the same yell came out of my mouth once the Iggles got bounced.

Maybe Dean is just a slow to the draw Eagles fan letting out his pain now?

Dean shall take N.H. and win the election in November...

Apparently Drew thinks Dean will win NEW HAMPSHIRE! and VIRGINIA! and OHIO, NORTH DAKOTA, OREGON! ARKANSAS! FLORIDA! AGGGGGGGH!

Drew? Not THE Dwew Poe? Please tell me.

YAAAGHGGHGHHGHHRHHH!!

Maybe he was just choking on something?

Strangely, Howard's campaign site completely forgot to mention the Kermit battle cry. Must have been an oversight.

You know what would be a great anti-Dean ad? Consider this: A repeated loop of Dean saying "I'm a metrosexual," followed up quickly with the Kermit battle cry. That would do more damage to the man than 30 Iowas.

The "Angry Young Man" was actually the byline of my first op-ed column. Of course, that was in college; I'm merely cranky now. But Dean, who doesn't seem to have been an angry guy when he was young, just gets madder.

Ryan... I hope people stay away from this one. He was having a good time despite the fact that he lost.

If his opponents keep playing this one, they'll only make themselves look shallow and square.

I think this one has blowback potential.

Well then, shoot, I'll fund the ad. It's widely understood that I'm both shallow AND square. I still want to see how The Daily Show With Jon Stewart plays with the Dean speech. Their whole thing last night about Dean = Smeagol/Gollum was so fucking funny, I considered crapping my pants.

Ryan

If I suggest turning it into a MoveOn Hitler speach add, whoes side would I be on then?

:)

No, better, first show Howard's angriest frame, waving his hands. Then play his voice "South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arazon and North Dakota and New Mexico to California and Texas..." showing Hitler spitting..

Then back up a couple states and show Kermit reading the last few and sync the YEEAAEAGHHHH!! with Kermits hand waving.

Oh I got the Towelie quote wrong the other day it's "I'm so high I have no idea what's going on"

Anyone remember the line from "Family Guy," where Peter says, "Oh, that's as realistic as a white guy's dialogue in a Spike Lee movie." Then there's a quick cut to an African-American fellow standing at a pizza shopcounter, saying, "Hey Sal, gimme a slice." The camera then cuts to Sal, frothing at the mouth, waving his arms wildly, and going, "Bluachachachcahchhach!"

If they do a live action version of "Family Guy," Howard Dean is made to play Sal the pizza guy.

Damn, I missed the Smeagol/Gollum bit. That does sound hilarious.

The Dean blog had the audio of his speech up and needless to say, he frightened me with his yelling. Do ya think he can tone it down, just a bit maybe?

Nyyyeeeeeaaaaaaaarggghh!!!!!!!!!

That's my boy right there.

(Fabulously written, Michele.)

But ... but ...

I thought all the righties were rooting for Dean, because they think Bush would squash him like a bug in November. And here you all are, kicking him while he's down.

I think you people are not being rational here, you just hate Dean. Call it "Dean Derangement Syndrome (DDS)".

Do ya think he can tone it down, just a bit maybe?

But only long enough to recover from Iowa and win the nomination? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeze?

If only I had a Salon.com article to tell me what to really think about Howard Dean. Then I might think of him as something more then a one trick pony. /sarcasm

Psst, Thlayli -- I'm gonna let you in on a little secret:

Bush will squash [insert Democrat candidate's name here] like a bug in November anyway.

We all just think it'll be more fun to watch if it's Mad Howie.

Then again, watching Mad Howie get squashed by John F@#&!! Kerry has been a lot of fun. Do it again, Senator!

"If only I had a Salon.com article to tell me what to really think about Howard Dean."

Yeah, that's what I read it for! Gosh, you saw right through me!/sarcasm right back atcha

Dean's yell was classic. It was the heretofore unknown "Barbaric Yeeeaaargh!" from Whitman's lost first draft.

"I think you people are not being rational here, you just hate Dean."

My gosh, you've found us out. We have absolutely no reason to loathe the man other than the fact that he's a Democrat. How transparent we must be. Actually honey, we all have our reasons for "hating Dean". Just like you guys have your reasons for hating Bush. What? You guys don't kick him while he's down? Is it suddenly wrong when righties do it? Man, get over yourself.

Bush will squash [insert Democrat candidate's name here] like a bug in November anyway.

Uh-huh. Keep telling yourself that.

Gennie: way to miss the point.

Just out of curiosity, Thlayli, what do you think would be the reaction of the extreme Bush-haters should W. win in a landslide come November? I mean, I get the feeling, from reading some of the more batshit crazies (*cough* HESIOD cough) that he'll start pricing sniper rifles should W. win big. I'll allow that Bush can be beat in any number of ways, but if he does win, I don't think there's enough booze in the world to numb the nerves of the far left. Anyway, your take, oh oddly-named one?

I'm probably just too attached to cheese rock, but the "Angry Young Man" song I associate with Dean is another one entirely.

The song I associate with him is completely different from any of the previous ones. Mine comes from an a Judd Hirsch sitcom, now that he's been beaten by Edwards and Kerry:

Dear Johns,
Dear Johns,
By the time you read this,
I'll be gone.
Life goes on . .
Dear Johns . . .

"Gennie: way to miss the point."

Actually Thlayli, I got the point just fine. Thanks all the same though.

"and he's fair and he's true and he's boring as hell, and he'll go to the grave as an angry old man".

taught me something about myself while I was driving to and from school, up and down I-35 in 1980.

hmm. I don't think of the billy joel song when i see howlin' howie. I think of the Living Color song, "Cult of Personality".

I invoke Godwin's law.

1. What is Godwin's Law?

As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

I think Dean is a dumbass. The only bigger dumbass is the guy comparing him to Hitler.

According to Godwin's Law. This discussion is now over.