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The "Dean Scream" and other reminders of a kindler, gentler time.

I tried to wait. I tried to be bipartisan. I. Just. Can’t. Help. Myself.

I’m writing this before any election results are in. And I’m not trying to influence anyone’s vote (which is why I’m posting this on election day or “candidate limbo” as it is known) but I just have to get a couple of things off my chest.

I voted this morning and I was number 56. If I remember correctly – and there’s no guarantee of that – I voted about the same time in 2016 and I was in the mid-fifties then, as well. It seems turnout is going to be huuuuuuge….for better or worse. The pundits claim that a large turnout means there will be a “blue wave” of Democratic winners. However, the pundits have been bigly-wrong before.

Our president has made this mid-term election cycle about him and his policies….almost daring the voters to “knock the chip off his shoulder.” (If that reference is a little too depression-era for you, here’s what it means.)

The democrats have made this about health care, pre-existing conditions and not pulling the plug on anyone older than 65. Vile, slanderous, blatantly false, misleading, mean, wrong-headed…if you can think of an outrageous claim, it has been flung back and forth across the chasm between the two parties.

Which leads me to yearn for a simpler, gentler time when one small gaffe was enough to knock a challenger out of contention. Two cases in point:

1. Texas Governor Rick Perry, in the 2012 Republican primary.  On November 9, 2011, during a primary debate, front-runner for the Republican nomination, Rick Perry was asked a question about one of his policy proposals to shut down three federal departments and shrink the size of the government. Which departments? Perry remembers “Commerce” and “Education” but cannot remember the third one. This goof effectively ruined Perry’s chances of securing the nomination and, though he tried again in 2016, he’s never been a national figure again.

2. Howard Dean in the 2004 Democratic Primary. Not to be left out, the democrats had an equally innocuous moment that doomed a political career. Esquire magazine writes about it more eloquently than I can:

“By January of 2004, the American left's revolt against President George W. Bush was in full effect. Simmering resentment from the contentious election of 2000 was brought to a boil by seething outrage over the War in Iraq. Left-leaning voters and grassroots activists were in search of a standard-bearer. They found one in Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, who steered the Democratic field—and the nation—toward opposition to the war, all the while rocketing up the polls.(Photo: Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

But then came the Iowa Caucus. The frontrunner for so many months, Dean came in third place behind John Kerry and John Edwards, shocking his supporters. But the damage was far from finished: In his concession speech in a Des Moines hotel ballroom that night, Dean tried to make himself heard above a raucous crowd of thousands. In a speech that was largely ad-libbed, he began shouting a list of states the campaign would go on to conquer in the months to come. And then he came to that immortal, cartoonish crescendo: "YAHHHHHH!!”

The “Dean Scream”  became a meme, even before we knew what memes were. Dean’s campaign and political career were never the same. His poll numbers fell like a stone. He was toast. Because he sounded like a maniac for one brief moment.

Now think about the multitude of horrible things that our president has done and said….about immigrants, women, poor people, opponents, cabinet members, even friends. Yet he remains unsullied. I don’t get it. His orange coating can’t be just a spray tan. It must be Teflon.                                                                                                                          Photo coutesy of Paul Sancya/Associated Press.

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