So Howard Dean accuses the GOP of being the party of White Christians, and the MSM throw a hissy-fit over his comments. And weenie beltway Dems run away as fast as they can. But was Dean right?
You'd never know it from the coverage. Because rather than determining whether Dean's accusation is accurate, the MSM label him a bomb-thrower and his comments "incendiary."
And yet just listen to the millionaire fops (thanks DailyHowler.com) on last Sunday's Meet the Press
Russert introduces Dr. Dean's "inflammatory" remarks:
"Here was--on Monday: `You know the Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. Pretty much, they all behave the same, and they all look the same. ...It's pretty much a white Christian party.'"
Responding to their command, the "balanced" panel of millionaire fops attack
NPR Millionaire (and Condi Rice pal) Gwen Ifill: "Howard Dean gets out here and he says these inflammatory things, and he doesn't apologize. He doesn't back down a little bit."
Wall Street Journal Millionaire John Harwood: "Certainly, these incendiary comments are thing that other Democratic politicians want to distance themselves from, but at the end of the day, what Howard Dean says doesn't matter all that much."
CNN Millionaire Judy Woodruff: "Howard Dean is still above the radar screen. When he uses some of these--makes some of these inflammatory comments, it gets picked up everywhere. Everybody reacts."
Note especially here, Millionaire Woodruff says Everybody reacts. No one tries to figure out if what Dr. Dean is true, they just react.
Dr. Dean did say some pretty stupid things. Like saying Republicans haven't made an honest living in their lives. It simply isn't true. But is the GOP a largely White Christian party?
In the 2004 presidential election, exit polling indicates that 77% of voters were White, and they backed Bush by 58% to 41% over Kerry. Twenty-three percent of voters polled identified themselves as "evangelical/born again" and backed Bush over Kerry by 78% to 21%.
Protestants and Catholics made up 54% and 27% of voters, and these groups backed Bush over Kerry by 59% vs. 40% and 52% to 47%, respectively.
To put this into perspective, self-identified Republican and Democratic voters each constituted 37% of voters. Republicans went 93% to 6% for Bush over Kerry, while Democrats voted 89% to 11% for Kerry. So party identification seems to be a stronger influence on voting for president in the 2004 election than was religion.
I'm no pollster, so I'm sure there's much better analysis than mine. But maybe overall, the GOP isn't the White Christian party.
But is Bush really representative of the GOP? Not likely, with Bush's recent favorable/unfavorable ratings sinking to all-time lows.
While voters who constitute the GOP aren't beholden to the Conservative Christian Right, Bush and the GOP leadership most certainly are.
And the MSM know this. They attack Dean for throwing incendiary bombs, and don't bother to check whether there's any grain of truth to what he says, but then listen to them talk about to whom the Bush White House listens:
Woodruff [on Bush]: "... he's sticking to Social Security, he's sticking to the tax cuts. He hasn't backed down on a single thing. Yes, there was a mild compromise federal judges, but this is a president who believes if he hangs in there long enough and toughs it out that he's going to prevail, that courting the base, the Republican conservative base, is going to stand him in good stead."
Harwood [on the White House view of a fight over the judiciary]: "Well, they might welcome a fight like that in terms of sort of pleasing the conservative base and having it out on values over judicial nominees..."
Harwood [on Bush's, Kennedy's and McCain's plans to loosen restrictions on illegal immigrants]: "That's not what the conservative base wants."
Bush listens to his conservative base. Who's this base? I'm willing to be it's White Christians like James Dobson. The Dobsons of this country push Bush to threaten a veto of Congress' newly-approved federal funding for stem cell research. To force through Congress wildly reactionary judicial nominees. To undermine sex-ed in publics schools, restrict basic information on condom use on government Websites, promote inefficient and counterproductive "abstinence only" education programs, and cut funding to world organizations trying to blunt Africa's and Asia's AIDS explosions because such organizations provide family planning services, thereby sentencing countless people to certain deaths due to sexually transmitted diseases.
The Dobsons of this nation force Bush to place wife-raping, prayer-as-medicine physicians on important FDA advisory panels where they can deep-six requests to place plan B drugs over the counter. And these Dobsons may even have helped, even if a little bit, push Bush over the precipice to war in Iraq, where a crusade against Muslems could be fought for the inexpensive price of what the wealth of Iraqi oil revenues could bring.
And that's what I think Dean should have said. That the GOP is inordinately influenced by White Christians. That the GOP no longer represents the majoriy of its own supports. The GOP has crossed-over to some la-la land with which most Americans can't and don't want to identify. The GOP had a big tent, maybe not as big as the Democrats'. But the tent that influences the GOP is now extremely small.
Dean's message should have been that the Democrats will stand to represent the interests of the vast majority of Americans, White Christians, Black Baptists, Indian Hindi, Mexican Catholics, Atheists... you name it.
I think Dean was trying to say that the GOP leadership is out of touch. Instead, he probably alienated a bunch of potential supporters, at least in the near-term until the Democrats rehone and resend their mesage.