Tuesday, December 23, 2003

William Rivers Pitt Speaks for Dean

William Rivers Pitt:

"Howard Dean wants his country back, and so do I, and all the electoral math is pointing more and more every day to the fact that if we are to take this country back from the brigands, we will be doing it in Howard Dean’s army."

".....But the ad in Iowa, the nonsense about Hussein’s capture, and these most recent smears about Dean’s brother, are a cancer. It smacks of bitterness, of candidates who thought it was their turn and now feel thwarted by this doctor who came out of nowhere. It smells like brimstone, because if it continues, it will return to haunt us in the general election, the “Dean can’t win” claims will become a self-fulfilling prophesy, Bush will secure victory in 2004, and we will reap the whirlwind. If the Democratic party eats itself over the nomination of Howard Dean, it will cease to exist as a viable force in America, and deservedly so. Memo to the DLC and DNC: You have been warned..."

Howard Dean is Treated Most Unethically by Iowa Newspaper
Quad-Cities Times

Quad-Cities Times: I can't believe they actually did this

I will post the entire Quad-Cities Times Editorial at the end of this blog entry.
The Editorial would have been fine up until the last sentence, clearly meant to take a great deal of credibility away from
Howard Dean in a most unethical fashion.

I've seen tawdry tactics before, but this one really takes the cake.

It brings to mind how far I believe some of our journalists have strayed from ethics and from human reality today, even in the scope of "all's fair" American-style politics.

Fritz Williams of the Baltimore Ethical Society said:

"Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. ln those transparent moments we know other people's joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own."

There is an element of empathy in the story of Charlie Dean's family situation that most Americans capable of empathy can clearly see..and that the Quad Cities Tmes has totally missed.

According to Jodi Wilgoren of the NY Times, Dr. Dean has written a letter to the Quad-Cities Times, saying he was "deeply offended" by the editorial. I don't see the letter posted at the Quad Cities site. Perhaps they're embarrassed. They should be.

Howard Dean's statement about his brother finally coming home

When Charlie's remains looked as if they'd been found, Howard Dean publically stated:

"This has been a long and emotional journey for my mother, Jim, Bill and me. We greet this news with mixed emotions but are gratified that we may now be approaching closure to this painful episode in our lives. We ask that you respect our privacy as we arrange for the transfer, identification and ultimate burial of what we believe are Charlie Dean's remains.

I want to particularly thank the United States military. The men and women I visited with and stayed with at base camp last year in Laos are extraordinary human beings. This whole operation is an extraordinary credit to the government and the U.S. military. My family and I are deeply appreciative.

This is an extraordinary thing they've done: I've been on the site of five POW/MIA where they believe people are buried. It's very, very difficult. It's very rare to recover the type of remains that we recovered, which are very significant and are very likely to be positively identified.

At every turn [JPAC and the U.S. military] have been accommodating and respectful of our family's needs, and we're grateful for their service to our family and to every other family who has experienced a similar loss.

This is painful not just for us, but for the families of every POW/MIA in America. Based on my spending time in Southeast Asia last year I can tell you and all those families that similar efforts are being made for every family and every missing American from these Southeast Asian wars. This is an extraordinary step our government has gone to [to bring home every POW/MIA]."

So when did we lose our sense of empathy in America?

Charlie may not have been a soldier. He may not have been CIA. Frankly, none of this has ever been made clear and perhaps we, the public, will never and should never have access to any of that information. Charlie's not coming back. His family has suffered deeply, as I'm sure your family would. Howard Dean, in his eloquent statement expressed the great lesson he learned from the POW/MIA experience....and that lesson was borne of empathy for other families who lost beloved soldiers in the Viet Nam War. He also expresses his thanks and respect to the Military operation that enabled his family to have a final reuniting with Charlie.

If you can't see Howard Dean's answer for what it is and understand that it is truly the first thing that comes to this man's mind when he's asked about his closest relative and the armed forces, then I have no answer other than to say there's a sad combination of a lack of ethics, empathy, and a removal from reality on the part of the Editorial-writer at the Quad Cities Times. I won't go as far as to say there was deliberate atempt to impugn Dean's honesty and/or credibility, but I must say I suspect it.

It was incredibly scummy.

At a recent Sunday morning meeting, Dr. Khoren Arisian of the New York Society for Ethical Culture said:

"...When I say that since the times are always changing and so must we, I’m urging that if we are to be effective in the world, we need to catch on to the tunes and code words being played all around us. Then, maybe, we can respond forcefully and convincingly and make our voices heard.

"...Democracy depends on our being citizens first, consumers second, couch potatoes never.

"...The good life, the fulfilled life, is ultimately with people who are real. Real people are characterized by an ability to deal boldly with reality, with what’s actually at stake as opposed to what’s ostensibly happening, the music and the code words mentioned earlier. We have to learn to read between, not into, the lines..."

Howard Dean is about as real and as bold as you can get in politics today.
I understood what he was saying in his answer to that question..and I'll bet most other Americans did, too.
The Quad-Cities Times failed to read between his lines, and in doing so, missed a great opportunity to show
themselves as an humanly empathetic or ethical newspaper.


Dean's answer reveals more than intended

For 12 weeks, editorial page readers have learned a little bit about the human side of our presidential caucus candidates.

Our Caucus Q&A each Sunday defines each candidate in terms beyond position statements. They have divulged childhood experiences and influential teachers. In today's installment, the candidates named their favorite comedy film.

Last Sunday, Howard Dean offered an unusually revealing answer.

The candidates were asked to cmplete this sentence:

My closest living relative in the armed services is...?

Dean's reply: "...my brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead."

Dean's truthful answer provided an inaccurate response. His brother was never a member of the armed services.

In an interview Friday with the Times editorial board, Dean said he believed the question was meant to get at his personal understanding of the military.

That definitely was the intent of our question.

We wanted to know the intent of his answer.

Dean said he visited Vietnam with veterans and military personnel and participated in digs to unearth enlisted men's remains.

That experienced created a strong affinity for men and women in uniform.

Charlie Dean's remains were found last month in a Laotian rice field, ending nearly three decades of anguish for his family.

Charlie Dean by many accounts was a renegade, an anti-war activist who didn't scream objections and wave signs. He worked for George McGovern, and in 1974, began a world journey. The news stories called him a "tourist," but his activism would indicate the trip was much more than that.

He crossed the Pacific by freighter. He worked on an Australian ranch.

Then for reasons only he knew, he went with a friend to Southeast Asia to see the war first-hand.

At some point, he was arrested by Laotian communist troops and held against the formal objections of the U.S. and Australian governments.

The U.S. Department of Defense classified Charlie Dean as Missing in Action, meaning that he was among

those officially sought by our government. He wasn't the only civilian with such a classification.

But he was a civilian, not a member of the armed services.

Charlie Dean's capture and death in Southeast Asia certainly shaped his brother's opinions about the American military.

Knowing that story tells us something about the candidate.

So does inaccurately implying a direct family connection to the armed services for the 72,000 Quad-Citians who received Sunday's newspaper.

I think the Quad-Cities Times Editorial shamefully revealed more about their own agenda than intended.

More information on this subject can be found at the following sources:
Jimmy Breslin
Gerry Cohen
N.Y. Post