As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination
heats up, it is becoming increasingly clear to the Dowbrigade that what
you see is NOT what you get. The mainstream media, which built
Howard Dean up into an unlikely but refreshing frontrunner, has now turned
on the good doctor, and seems determined to tear him down as expeditiously
as they built him up.
This is fine with us, as it seems to have shaken Dean out of the pusillanimous
pandering of the media which we witnessed first-hand earlier this winter. At
a Dean "Town
Meeting" in a small town in New Hampshire, the candidate
was, as was his habit at that stage of the campaign, taking questions
from the audience after finishing his stock stump speech.
A Blogger in the audience (not one of our acquaintances) asked him for
his opinion on the lack of diversity in the media, and whether he supported
an increased role for the "independent media" (Blogs). Dean’s
answer was an excellent example of the artful dodge; he stated his support
for generic diversity and said that was why he opposed the repeal of
FCC regulations limiting the number of media outlets a single corporate
could control in any one media market. And then he quickly moved on,
avoiding the heart of the issue – the monopolistic stranglehold on the
national attention span exerted by a
small and largely
group of media moguls backed by the economic clout of the same groups
running the economy and the national government.
Happily, Dean’s reluctance to bite the hand that, at that point of the
campaign, was feeding his growing momentum has waned as the feeding has
turned to baiting, and the media has turned to tearing down what it had
just built up. Lately we have been reading that Dean is now lumping
"Big Media" in with "Corporate Interests" and "Washington Insiders" in
his own personal axis of evil.
It has been a curious dynamic to watch. Every time Dean took another step
closer to the center of power, the laurel wreath of the Consecrated Candidate,
he seemed to take two steps backward in his righteous indignation quotient.
Every endorsement he picked up from a traditional politician,
the less he seemed like the maverick iconoclast who could effectuate real
change in the political process. Now, as his poll numbers continue to
shrink Howard is running back to his
and independents who got him started and still conform the core of his
His latest move is a real stunner. By seeking out the counsel
of Dave Winer,
Internet visionary and RSS evangelist, he is taking a bold step towards
realizing the real potential of Cyberspace in the American
political landscape. For months now Dave has been dispensing timely
and insightful advice to all of the candidates on his perennial platform,
Scripting News. Now, apparently,
someone is ready to listen, and to put his dictums into practice. That
someone is Howard Dean, or at
least some influential advisors to the candidate himself. And now
Dave gets a sterling opportunity to strut his stuff.
Dave and the Deanies’ first move is an innovative effort to create and
really useful RSS feed – not one which will just endless repeat the
main story line the campaign wants to propagate at any particular time,
one which will include "everything everyone involved with the campaign
needs to know". Channel
Dean will not just about Howard Dean, but about
all of the candidates, the campaign overall, how it is being covered
and how it
is being received by the public. This has the potential to be something
very original and important, and is available now for anyone interested,
inside or outside of the campaign. The
RSS feed is here, so check it out, and if you like what you see,
add it to your aggregator.
Whether this will make a difference in the current campaign remains
to be seen, and that’s why American presidential politics is such a fascinating
spectator sport. What Dave and the Dean people want to do is to turn
it into a participatory
and that would be truly revolutionary.
Personally, the Dowbrigade has been wavering between supporting Dean,
Kerry (a traditional politician who strikes us as a person of integrity,
at least) and doing what we have done in the past several elections –
seeking out some crackpot fringe candidate who reflects our attitude
towards the Romanesque circus our presidential politics have become.
But as it looks more and more like the Rove/Cheney team has the game
wrapped up before kickoff, we are leaning more and more towards letting
Dean be the one to fight the good fight and get creamed. Frankly,
we are more impressed with the Dean campaign than the man himself,
but maybe that’s a good thing. Even an unsuccessful Dean campaign
could serve as an instructive essay into how the existing system can
jimmied or bypassed to let in a little fresh air, and increase the possibility
that someone truly visionary who fully "gets it" will stand a chance
to go all the way at some point in the future.