An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Saturday, January 24, 2004


Far be it from me to join the legions inflaming Dean's post-Iowa speech into something more than it is, but there is an editorial in the Post today that seems to answer the questions and comments flowing from everyone and my mother.

"Let's get a grip.

Mr. Dean's political tuning fork, which had been so finely adjusted for much of the campaign, went horribly off kilter Monday night. Mr. Dean says he was trying to buck up an audience full of devastated young Deaniacs, but he made a mistake, and a rather rookie one at that, in not understanding how what might have seemed like rational exuberance inside the hall would come off far differently to those who weren't quite so into the moment.

And yet, the speech itself was not as bad as the reaction to it would suggest. One could imagine Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) giving a similar war whoop and not sustaining anything like the damage that has accrued to Mr. Dean. Indeed, Mr. Kerry might well have been congratulated for shedding his aloof image. "

The superficial way most Americans and candidates deal with our elections is disappointing. There is a lot of information out there, and yet too many Americans seem willing to give up the democracy that too many have fought and died for by deciding to vote for Edwards because he's handsome or Kerry because he's tall, against Dean because he yelled or Clark because he's wooden.

If you don't want to waste time on the horse race that our presidential selection process has become, then take some time to at least read about the records of the candidates. In addition to the candidates' own web sites, a number of sites offer commentary and records on the votes in Congress, like Progressive Punch, the League of Conservation Voters, Public Citizen, and so many others. Of course, reading the papers from a candidate's hometown can often be insightful, and many magazines offer in-depth profiles on candidates. In short, if you don't want to deal with the whole thing, just decide what's important to you in a President, Senator, Governor, Representative or other official, and at least read something!