Let Hilary and Howard howl | VailDaily.com

Let Hilary and Howard howl

Matt Zalaznick

Finally, Democrats are getting mean.After five years of blowout election losses, and while most of the party seems happy to let Republicans beat the left to a bloody pulp, Howard Dean and Hilary Clinton – and even Colorado’s mild-mannered Sen. Ken Salazar – are spitting venom. Can’t let Jon Stewart and the “Daily Show” do all the work while the Democrat leadership lets W., Dickie, Rummy and O’Reilly convince Americans that liberalism is a curse word, a drastic moral failing – practically a sin; that left-wingers and other Americans who oppose the war in Iraq aren’t patriotic; that Americans’ great and vital tradition of questioning and criticizing their leaders is unproductive and treasonous. Hilary’s vitriol was the most presidential, and got to the heart of W.’s down-home tyranny: “Why can’t the Democrats do more to stop them?” she was quoted in The New York Times as saying at a New York City fundraiser. “I can tell you this: It’s very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they’re doing.” Some think she’s too toxic to be the Democratic front-runner. But maybe – with a sharp campaign strategy and some yo-yo like Bill Frist as an opponent – she’s exactly what the party needs: a firebrand. A rock star. A larger-than-life character like Reagan, like her husband, like W. “There has never been an administration, I don’t believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda.” She didn’t overdo it by calling W. a Hitler or a fascist or a racist. Abuse of power is exactly the right charge. W.’s brazen ability to gloss over the reality of the war in Iraq, the dangers of climate change, and the weaknesses in the economy is part of this abuse. His insistence on nominating abrasive ideologues like John Bolton and Janice Brown to every open post is another. And at the heart of abuse of power is a disrespect for the American people W. insists he’s fighting for. If Hilary is wittier, more biting – Groucho Marx, say – then Howard is Harpo, beeping, tweaking and crushing Dick Cheney’s bowler and pulling the Republicans’ pants down. Dean has been needling and irritating the Republicans since he was named the head of the Democratic Party. Want proof? Listen to O’Reilly and Hannity and all the other TV and radio pit bulls say how happy they are to have Dean ranting and raving. Dean may be ruining his chances at a presidential nomination, but he’s more valuable on the attack. He made the Republicans apoplectic when he said they were mean, exclusionary, monolithic, didn’t understand average Americans and had never done an honest day’s work in their life. “Maybe his mother loved him, but I’ve never met anybody who does,” Cheney said on Fox’s “Hannity & Colmes” show. Egg ’em on, Howard. Dean not only makes the Democrats look angry, he made them look a little crazy – and unpredictability’s a good trait for a hatchet man to have. But are Democrats lining up between the two most well-known members of their party? Outside the Northeast, not so much.While Howard should refine his rhetoric (maybe raise it from an elementary school to at least high school-level of name calling), it may take a while for more Democrats to realize their namby-pamby approach to everything is why they’ve been getting drubbed in elections this century. It make take a little while longer before the ever-cautious, tread-lightly Kerry-Edwards-wing of the party stops worrying about what evangelical Christians think and puff up their chests, bare their teeth and show some personality and character to the growing number of Americans who have their doubts about W. and are dying to vote for a viable alternative. A little controversy is OK, it’s energizing, most importantly, it makes news and makes the other guys angry. If Hilary and Howard keep at it, maybe they’ll razz monsters like Frist and Cheney into showing how little affection they have for the American people. City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com or 949-0555, ext. 606. Vail, Colorado

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