Interview with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show"
June 23, 2005
Jon Stewart: Tonight, former Democratic Presidential candidate who is now the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, please welcome Howard Dean. Howard!
[Applause as Dean walks onstage and they shake hands.]
Stewart: Glad to see you.
Howard Dean [to audience]: Thank you.
Stewart: Have a seat. Nice to see you!
Dean: It's good to be back-- I think.
Stewart: Nice to see you again. No, we're delighted to see you. I have been reading a lot of reports concerning things you've said, and I have a question.
Are you a crazy person?
Dean: I thought I might be until I saw that last interview*, and then I decided I-- as long as I haven't given
$5,000 to the Republican Party I'm definitely not yet crazy.
Stewart: If you give them $5,000, you can go to one of those dinners.
Stewart: And, you can bring a crazy porn star.
Stewart: If you want. It's up to you. I'm leaving it in your hands.
Are you-- are you worried, you know, is this-- You know, the Democrats have been criticized for not having a spine. For rolling over. Then you came in, and now they're being criticized for, "hey, geez, look at that spine. That's a lot of spine."
Stewart: Is it difficult to find that balance? Do you feel like, sometimes, it's-- you step over it, you don't, you're behind the line? What's your concern?
Dean: Well, sometimes I step over the line a little bit, but we have a great, loyal following. And whenever I ste-- whenever they whack us, we-- you know, $500,000 comes in over the Internet without asking. People want somebody who's gonna stand up to the Republicans and stop letting them push us around.
[Cheers and applause]
Stewart: And this is, in a lot of respects-- you know what's interesting is, 'cause we've had chairmen of parties on before. And typically they are-- and I say this with no disrespect-- tools.
Stewart: -- You know what I mean--
Dean: -- Uh, oh, I don't know where this is going--
Stewart: --they're the guys-- but no, they're the guys that come on, and you're not sure what's going on inside. They're on like this sort of robotic like "We're the greatest in the world"-- you know.
You're a guy that has a reputation of authenticity, you're a guy that's worked as an elected official, as the Governor of Vermont. Is that a tough role for you to be in, which is sort of more of a salesman role, than-- and a cheerleader role-- than, maybe a policy guy.
Dean: You know why it's not tough-- sometimes it is, 'cause I like policy a lot. It's not tough 'cause these people have taken our country away from us. They're-- they talk about morals, but they don't do anything to help the poor. Last time I saw that-- helping the poor was something that was mentioned 3,000 times in the Bible-- I have yet to find a reference to gay marriage in the Bible. These people are obsessed with things that are not about basic core American values. And I'm sick of it, and so is a lot of other people, and I'm happy to stand up for them.
[Applause and cheers]
Stewart: Why-- and by the way, I am not through the Bible yet, so don't tell me how it ends.
[Dean chuckles, audience laughs.]
I'm up, I'm about three-quarters of the way through, and I'm right-- somebody just went to salt(ph)-- I don't know what's happening.
Um, the thing that I always find is, I'm not sure what the Democrats would do if, let's say tomorrow, you were in office. Specifically, what they would do. I think that seems to be the thing that people have the toughest time wrapping their heads around.
Dean: I think that-- first of all, I'll give you an issues list, but that's not really--
Dean: --the important part--
Stewart: --No, I mean specifically--
Dean: --I mean, balancing the budget, we want health care for every single American, we want a strong defense that involves cooperating with other countries instead of spitting on 'em. I mean-- but what we really want--
Stewart: --so like specifically, let's take it right. Is there an idea in the Democratic Party, you know, they say, "oh, let's pull some people out, let's not, let's put some more people in"-- is there something specific that you guys have developed, that you could just stand up tomorrow and say, "this is what the shadow Democratic government would do."
Dean: Well, other than the specific issues, balancing the budget and all that stuff, yeah. What we're gonna do is restore real moral values to the American people. We're gonna-- You know, the most important-- I don't mean to-- I happen to be a Christian, which I realize would--
Stewart: --what are you looking at me for? What? I didn't do anything!!
Stewart: So I celebrated Hanukka in the '80's! Whaddaya want from me??
Stewart: It's the Festival of Lights!!!
Dean: That's right, that's right.
Stewart: The oil lasted longer than we thought!!
Dean: [chuckles] Yeah, well, from Bush's point of view it's gonna last a lot shorter than he thinks it--
Dean: --if he keeps--
Stewart: --nicely done, well done--
Dean: You know, I shouldn't try to keep up with Jon Stewart--
Stewart: --no, you shouldn't--
Dean: --that is a big mistake!
Stewart: But more than that sort of--
Dean: --but, you know, if I had to capsule the philosophy of the Democratic Party, it would be-- it really is, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." And you don't get to choose your neighbors. This is one community in this country, and I'm tired of having it divided. We're all in this together. That's basically what this is all about.
Stewart: All right. When we come back, we're gonna talk about specific policy stuff that you feel that can give people a hint of, other than something that they can put on a pillow--
Stewart: --what you-- Okay. 'Cause I'm gonna put your feet to the...
Stewart: Well, no, it's a... [points to the floor at Dean's feet] ...shag carpet.
Stewart: We're gonna be right back! We're talking to Howard Dean!
Stewart: All right, welcome back to the program. We're talking to Governor Howard Dean now.
I'm hearing you say that the Democrats are in the midst of developing this plan. Now as an outside observer, I have watched the Democrats, lo these past, let's say, five years. And the plan so far-- I mean, maybe you guys-- maybe this is the plan, maybe you're like Mohammad Ali in the George Foreman fight, where people were like, "what's he doin' on the ropes? The guy's clubbin' him to death!" And Ali's just there like this: [holds his fists up in front of his face] "I know what I'm doing."
Stewart: Is that-- are the Democrats right now, as they're being, let's say, clubbed to death--
Stewart: --legislatively. Is this a rope-a-dope strategy? Do you know what you're doing?
Dean: It's not a rope-a-dope strategy, I hope we now know what we're doing.
Stewart: And you feel better.
Dean: Yeah, I feel be-- I mean, the first thing we're gonna do is call the Republicans' B.S. I mean, they are-- they lay out, they lay out--
Dean: --all this stuff, you know, they're calling names, they're-- You know, I saw the clip earlier on about the flag amendment and 9-11. What do they know about those people from 9-11? They did cut their health insurance. They talk one big-- look, here they are going out to every African-American church in America, and they won't even renew the Voting Rights Act.
Give me a break!
Audience member: Amen.
Stewart: But why is that so difficult? Why don't-- and we talked about-- why don't the Democrats do this? Every day, say what the Democratic government would have done in that situation.
Dean: I think that's a great idear.
Stewart: --Come out-- [stops short in surprise] --it--
Dean: --Would you like to be the shadow minister of the Secretary of State?
Stewart: I would like you to--
Dean [Amidst applause and cheers]: --you would be a lot better than the one we've got now!
Stewart: --I would only like, if I may say this, royalties for the idea. That's all.
[Dean and the audience laugh]
Stewart: Little bit of Halliburton-- just give me a little bit of the overflow, that's all I need--
Dean: --OK, I can give you--
Stewart: I'll build ya something in Iraq.
Dean: On the small-- let me-- you know, there's big stuff, like health insurance, where we clearly have a big diversion...
Stewart: Mm hm.
Dean: ...balancing the budget, which Republicans don't do. That stuff is important.
Now, the small stuff is, it matters to individual people. For example, we will not send troops to another country without at least equipping them properly, and listening to generals tell us how many they need. You can't expect-- Look, I didn't support the war. But they're there. If you're gonna send the troops to someplace, you oughtta listen to the generals tell you how many they need.
The reason we're not doing well in Iraq is 'cause the President wouldn't listen to the people in the Pentagon, who knew something-- the President certainly doesn't know anything about sending people to war! He didn't go--
Stewart: --He thinks about it every day--
Stewart: --he said so on the TV. Every day!
Dean: But that-- that's nice talk, but it's not helping the people, the parents over there--
Stewart: --No, I--
Dean: --who are losing their kids all the time--
Stewart: --no, I hear what you're saying. The thing is, though, Karl Rove comes out just today and says, "After 9-11, liberals wanted to give the terrorists therapy." Even though I think in Congress, they voted, I dunno, 420 to one, to go to war in Afghanistan.
But how do you battle their real advantage in what appears to be the media war?
Dean: Well, the only advantage they have in the media war is, your audience needs to get six times as big so people really understand what's going on.
[Laughter, then applause]
Dean: I'm serious. I'm not-- actually, this is square business, I'm not saying this just to suck up to Jon or--
Stewart: --but if you were, then that'd be fine.
Dean: The truth is, there are people that watch this show get their news from you and the Internet. And that's probably a lot more reliable place to get it than the Washington Times and Fox News.
[Cheers and applause]
Stewart: But in your mind, do you think that, as the battle stands now, the Democrats stand united, and they're just gonna go out, and just relentless every day, fact, fact, fact, and just let the chips fall where they may?
Dean: No, we gotta have facts and a message. Facts are not enough, because the folks just twist them around.
[Chuckles sardonically] I remember when Bolton got sent out of his committee, 10 to 10. That was a disgrace
to have a sitting
President nominate somebody with his own party in charge, and have no recommendation out on the floor.
That was ri-- you know, this is silly.
Stewart: --people spin things--
Dean: --So it's not enough just to talk about the facts. We've gotta be out there with a tough message about what we're gonna do differently.
One, we're gonna treat the troops properly, two, we're not gonna cut their benefits when they get home, three, we're gonna balance the budget so that people watching this show can pay for college and don't have to worry about--
Stewart: --and cable, pay for cable.
[Laughter and applause]
Stewart: Those were some specifics, and I appreciate it.
Dean: --But three-- and the other thing we're gonna do, is we're gonna get the corruption out of government. There's not a culture of lies--
Stewart: --Good luck with that.
Dean: --in this government, there's a culture of corruption.
Stewart: Don't get it too much out, then I'm out of a job. So.
Dean: -- campaign finance reform--
Stewart: --I need a little bit of corruption in there.
Governor, thank you so much, thanks very much.
Dean: It was a pleasure, thank you.
Stewart: Governor Howard Dean!