The Randi Rhodes Show
June 22, 2004
Randi Rhodes, Host: All right, 3:42. Please welcome one of our heroes, one of the first people to ever open his mouth and have some sanity come out of it on the campaign trail with regard to the next Presidential election-- Governor Howard Dean, M.D.!
Governor Howard Dean: Hey!
Rhodes: What do I call you? What do I call ya?
Dean: You can call me Howard, how about that?
Rhodes: That works for me. (laughs)
Uh, Judy's one lucky broad, I gotta tell ya.
Rhodes: She is. You're amazing to me. I mean, you're like the first person that ever came out and said, "This whole thing is crap." You know, "the whole idea of attacking Iraq is just crap."
Dean: Well, the interesting thing about all that is, now the President's really paying the price. As you usually do when you start out something that--
No, in politics, they-- or actually, in anything, they always say, "It's better to tell the truth, then you don't have to remember what you said."
Dean: And all that stuff that the President said, you know, "there's weapons of mass destruction", "they're about to get nuclear weapons..."
Dean: ..."They're in league with the terrorists," "they had something to do with 9/11..." all that, piece by piece, is getting unraveled.
I was asked today by some media person, "well, what about the President's standing on terrorism is beginning to fall?" It's not a surprise. The President built a house of cards with things that weren't true 2, 3 years ago, and now he's gonna pay a price and it's too late to fix it. 'Cause once those things are outta your mouth, it's pretty hard to pretend you didn't say it three years later.
Rhodes: You know, I wanna talk about what happened to you, but before we do, since we're on this-- who's the President of the United States, your best guess? it can't be this guy! It's--
Dean: -- I actually have more respect for him than that--
Rhodes: -- I don't.
Dean: -- I think he's a very well-disciplined guy, who takes direction from Cheney and Wolfowitz and Perle and Rumsfeld and those guys, but he does make up his own mind about the issues. The problem is, he's not particularly well-informed about the issues, 'cause he just-- he doesn't question much about the information that the people come to--
Rhodes: -- So you think he's kinda like a Paul McCartney, where he just had a bunch of 'yes' men around him, but he really was talented?
Dean: Oh, I think that-- I think that he's intellectually incurious. He doesn't ask questions much. But I think that--
Rhodes: -- OK, OK--
Dean: -- I think he's well-disciplined, he's not stupid at all. That stuff is-- people who say he's dumb and all that, that's just not true.
Rhodes: Howard! How could you be intellectually incurious and consider yourself a person of intellect?
Dean: I didn't say he was an intellectual, he calls himself an intellectual...
Rhodes: -- Aww, it's like a-- listen-- I don't have the education you have, obviously, and I didn't-- but I am the most curious person I know.
Dean: Right. And that counts for a lot.
Rhodes: Yeah. So, you got this guy who doesn't really care about, you know, learning even how to say 'Abu Ghraib'... (laughs sardonically) ...and yet he's gonna represent us on the world stage--
Dean: -- You know, the problem with the President is not that he, you know, mangles syntax and all that, the problem is that most people don't think he's a truthful person around the world. I just got back from London where I gave a couple of speeches, and it's astonishing how much people dislike him, and it's really cost us a lot in this country. We used to be the moral leader of the world, from the end of World War I, even through Viet Nam, where Nixon certainly did not credit the United States-- bring credit to the United States. But people admired Americans, but they don't very much admire us any more.
And that has really hurt our country, and that's why we need to change Presidents.
Rhodes: Yeah. Well, that hurts me, 'cause I was in the military, and I was so proud to wear the uniform--
Dean: -- Yup. Well, you still should be proud to wear the uniform, it's not the people in the military who made these decisions, it's -- they were sent there, and they're just doing their job.
Rhodes: You know, but what I'm saying is our soldiers now, they're looked at with such disdain--
Dean: -- I don't think that's true.
Rhodes: By the people we went to liberate, you know, I do, I think that the people in towns, they look at these troops like, "you said you were gonna give us electricity and running water, and you were gonna make things good. And look what's happened here." And deep down inside, I know that they know that troops just follow orders, but they're so disappointed, and the troops, they're the ones that are seeing the actual emotion from the people.
Dean: That's very interesting. George Bush's father wrote a book after he left the presidency, and about page a-hundred-and-ninety-something he starts talking about why he didn't go to Baghdad and capture Saddam during the first Gulf War. And one of the-- he said something like this: "I didn't think we should do that because first of all, it would've broken international law. Second of all, it would've unraveled the coalition; we all agreed we weren't gonna do that, and third of all, I didn't want American kids shooting at enemies they couldn't see and wondering why they were there." That is the lesson the President [Bush II] didn't learn about going to Iraq.
You know, people have said, "well, that Howard Dean is the big anti-war candidate." I-- this is the first armed conflict I haven't supported in a long time... probably since Viet Nam. I supported the first Gulf War, I supported Afghanistan, I supported Bosnia, Kosovo... This one I didn't support, not because I'm afraid to use armed force, 'cause I don't believe you send people abroad without telling the truth about why they're going. And the President never told us the truth.
Rhodes: Well, see, and that brings me to this: What happened to Colin Powell?
Dean: Well, I think they just didn't pay any attention to him. I have a lot of respect for Colin Powell. And I think he probably gave them his best advice and they didn't take it.
Look, what about General Shinseki, who told them they needed 50,000 more troops-- they didn't pay any attention to it.
Here's the interesting thing about-- none of these guys has ever served a day abroad in their lives defending the United States. Powell and Kerry are the people who are saying, "well, you know this ought to be done differently." They served in combat. It really is amazing to me how arrogant they are, and how much they think they know everything.
One thing I learned about as governor for 12 years is, you pay somebody for their advice, probably a good idear to take it.
Rhodes: Yeah, I gotta agree with you, but-- I used-- I really tried to hold out hope for Colin Powell. I remember reading My American Journey, and I was thinking, "what a great guy, this is an amazing guy." 'Cause I'm not one of these people that just because you have an 'R' after your name, you're bad, bad, bad...
Rhodes: I just thought it was amaz-- And I loved the Powell Doctrine, and I thought after Viet Nam-- I know about your brother. And I just thought, "that's the way you do it." You have to have a real reason, a real threat to you or your allies, you have to have overwhelming force, you have to have an exit strategy, that's the way you do it.
And yet he went to the United Nations, and he even brought--
Dean: -- Well, I actually think that Powell was misled by the Vice President's office, which I think is the source of a lot of the really bad stuff-- I mean, here's the Vice President of the United States-- first of all, he's in violation of the Federal Ethics Act, second of all, he probably is interfering in the distribution of contracts. He is has a direct email to his chief of staff, going back and forth, and then he claims he didn't know what the chief of staff was doing-- people in my organization would be asked to resign under those circumstances.
Rhodes: And speaking of Libby, what-- I mean, Novak-- every time I see him on TV, I wanna puke. He--
Dean: I've got some advice is, turn the TV off.
Rhodes: You know what, you can't. You've gotta, you know, keep the enemies closer kind of a thing. You've gotta know if there are people on television like Bill O'Reilly, like Novak, who are outing CIA operatives, and Bill O'Reilly is sitting there today saying we should "nuke Falluja"! I mean, these people are crazy!
Dean: Don't pay-- those people don't know anything, why do you listen to them?
Dean: I gotta tell you a funny story about Novak. He was a pretty funny guy. There was a skit that I had to do--
Rhodes: -- if you tell me Novak is charming, I'm gonna vomit.
Dean: Well, I'm not gonna say he's charming--
Rhodes: -- Thank you. (laughs)
Dean: --But you know, he did out the CIA guy, so one of the lines that they wanted me to use-- and it turned out I made some jokes about myself and the Wisconsin primary instead-- but is: "I see they're serving Benedict Arnold Eggs, Bob Novak must be around today."
Rhodes: No, seriously, he is a traitor to the nation. Why did he have to do that? Why did he have to put it in a stupid column?
Dean: Because the right wing puts their allegiance to their party ahead of their allegiance to the country.
Rhodes: There you go.
Dean: That is what's the matter with this government. They've forgot--
Rhodes: --you know what--
Dean: --ten ordinary Americans, what they care about is the right wing of the Republican Party, not America.
Rhodes: And isn't it like, becoming, 'the United Corporations of America'? I mean--
Dean: That's right. Their allegiance is to the top 2% and the big corporations, and they've forgotten the other 98% of us.
Rhodes: You were talking about Libby and Cheney and the direct Halliburton contracts and no-bids and all this stuff, and now we have these contractors, "Khaki", for people in the know, and Titan, and they're giving orders to our guys??
Dean: Well, you know one of the biggest problems in Abu Ghraib was-- the prison scandal, the abuse scandal-- was that they've privatized the Army. There's an army of 20,000 mercenaries in Iraq. Now if the Army themselves had been in charge of Abu Ghraib entirely, and you hadn't had the civilian mercenaries doing some of the interrogation, my suspicion is that the Army chain of command would've worked, and that those people would have been disciplined, and they wouldn't have been encouraged by their superiors. I think one of the problems was that the chain of command was blurred, and there were civilians who were working for Cheney and Bush and those guys without being in the military.
The military works for the United States. But the privatization people work for the-- work for Cheney and Bush and the Republican administration---
Rhodes: --which is why--
Dean: --big difference between working for your country and for your party.
Rhodes: Well, see, you know what I say, I always say, there's a big difference between serving your country and serving your company. And who are you loyal to?
Dean: That's right. That's exactly right.
Rhodes: Right. And what really upsets me, I mean seriously makes me weep, is that our kids, who went over there because they were called, hadda take orders from people that are not loyal to country, but that are loyal to multi-national companies.
Dean: That's a huge problem in this administration. You know in Florida, there's a great book by a guy named Greg Palast called--
Dean: --"The Best Democracy Money Can Buy".
Dean: Any American ought to read the first two chapters of that book and see what really did happen in Florida. I unfortunately didn't read it until after the campaign was over for me, 'cause I just didn't have a chance.
It was shocking. Did you know the President's brother hired, at taxpayers' expense, an out-of-state private company to kick African-Americans off the rolls under the guise they were felons-- 85% of the people they identified as felons turned out not to be felons. So a ton of African-American voters were refused voting at the polls; couldn't vote, on the grounds essentially that they would vote 90% Democratic, so they didn't get a chance to vote.
And that means that this administration is unqualified to serve in a democracy as far as I'm concerned.
Dean: -- They're trying it again with the electronic voting machines--
Rhodes: -- I know that! Listen, I know you don't know me, but-- and we shouldn't pretend that we do know each other, but this is the first time we've ever spoken, and I-- before I came to AirAmerica, I was in Palm Beach County. That's where I came from.
Dean: Oh, my goodness!
Rhodes: I was on the air that day. I had just come from voting. And I got on the air at 3:00. And I said to the listeners, "something is so wrong out there. Something is so wrong--" and the wierdest thing-- Congressman Wexler, who's my Congressman, was sitting in the studio with me. And he said, "yeah, I was out there too." And that's why he came in. But...
I don't know if I should involve you in this or not. But Senator Lieberman was on the phone with me. I called him, right away. And I said to him, "Senator--" and he's on the ticket!-- and I said, "Something is so wrong. People are being turned away and told they're criminals." The butterfly ballot was in my county, and it was just horrendous, you couldn't really figure out where the holes matched up. The whole thing was a disaster.
And he was very... nonchalant about it... "Don't worry..."
Dean: You know, the interesting thing about this, is you know we have a new organization called DemocracyForAmerica.com, which I want all your listeners to go to the website and look at, DemocracyForAmerica.com. We back candidates.
Congressman Wexler called me about a month ago-- no, about a week ago, and said that, "you know, there's a great guy down here named Arthur Anderson, who's running for Inspector of Elections or whatever they call it in Palm Beach County, against the woman who did the butterfly ballots."
Rhodes: Yeah, that's Theresa LaPore.
Dean: Those are the kinds of people we want to win in office. What we're trying to do in Democracy For America is, encourage local people to run for office. Because we're not gonna take the country back if we only worry about the Presidential race and the Senate and the House, while those are very, very important.
Rhodes: I think the House is key here.
Dean: They're all key. But we've gotta also pay attention to local offices. If we'd had an Inspector of Elections that had been competent, we would've not had the butterfly ballot problem. And if we'd had Secretaries of State around the country that did their job, unlike Kathleen Harris, whose other job was to serve Jeb Bush instead of serve the people of Florida, then we wouldn't have the problem that we have.
So we've gotta get competent public officials on the local level, and that means supporting local people, not just supporting the people that everybody reads about in the newspaper.
And so I just did want to put in a plug for Arthur Anderson.
Rhodes: Well, you know, what I really do admire about you, truly. I know you were in Missouri last week--
Dean: --I was, we had a great time.
Rhodes: And I know that you're on the campaign trail for local offices, for people who want to go to Congress, for people that wanna, you know, defeat some Republicans. And to me, the House is key, because if you-- God forbid, he wins another four years, if we could win back the House, he'd be impeached in a heartbeat! In a heartbeat! There's no way this guy could've gotten away with half of what he got away with, as far as pulling us out of treaties unilaterally, as far as having contractors give orders to soldiers--
Dean: --well, I think there would be an independent investigation which--
Rhodes: -- damn right there would! That's what-- and the--
Dean: --the Congress should doing that. Congress' allegiance should be to the country--
Rhodes: --Get outta here! Tom DeLay? You know--
Dean: --well, we know. We have bad Congresspeople, but we really should--
Rhodes: --Terrible! Terrible!
Dean: --We really should have people who stand up for what's right for America, not what's right for their party. Look, I got plenty of Democrats mad and me, and I didn't mind. You just stand up and say what you think is right--
Rhodes: --Well that's what I wanna ask you about. I wanna ask you-- you know, the "scream" thing. I think I understand how that happened, because I'm in broadcasting. I've got a funny feeling that what they took was the sound off of the board.
Dean: Yeah, that's what they did.
Rhodes: They did, didn't they?
Dean: They cut out the crowd, which was too bad.
Rhodes: Right. And so, when I heard it, I thought, all of a sudden the crowd faded out, and I just heard you really loud-- I actually have it, I love it:
[plays the Dean Scream:] "Yeeaaaahhhh!!!"
Rhodes: I play it all the time. When I can't take it any more, you're my scream.
Rhodes: I love it. And at first, I got heat for it. People thought I was making fun of you. And I go "no, you don't understand." I was like, totally in it that day. And I understood the board. And I thought, "Okay, what happened was, his microphone went through the sound board, and they just took the sound off the sound board, and cut out the crowd so that if you were-- yeah.
Dean: The truth is, you couldn't hear me if you were in the room.
Rhodes: Right. Right. Right. I suspected that. But that--
Dean: --It was fun. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably give a more somber speech to the nation, but I certainly had a lot of fun.
Rhodes: I hope you do it at the Democratic-- are you going to the convention?
Dean: I am.
Rhodes: Okay. Me too. I'll see you there.
But, I wanted to ask you a really tough question, and you may not wanna answer this in public, and if you don't, don't. And I'll get a private answer from you someday. But... is politics so hardball that even within the party, it's almost impossible for a guy who speaks out, and doesn't walk the party line...?
Dean: I don't think so, I don't think it's impossible. I mean, clearly the party was uncomfortable with somebody from the outside, and they all did what they could to make sure I didn't win. But the truth is, I think over time you can overcome that. We do have a reasonably open system. I am worried about this administration, particularly about the touchscreen voting machines, because they don't work...
Dean: ...and they shouldn't be used.
Rhodes: No, I'm on it.
Dean: But in general... you know, Winston Churchill once said about democracy, that "it's the worst system of government-- except for every other."
Rhodes: (laughs) Yeah, I know.
Dean: And it's true. I used to think... You know, running for President is really tough. Gary Hart once told me that "no wimp is ever elected President." Because of whatcha gotta go through.
Dean: But in the end, it's a system that does really push people hard, and it is a very very tough business, but in the end the voters have their say, and they really do have their say for the most part. I know the Florida situation last year was awful. But for the most part, voters have their say.
Rhodes: You know, this year, you watch Ohio. Keep your eye on Ohio.
Dean: I am worried about Ohio, 'cause that's where the company that makes the voting machines is, Diebold.
Rhodes: Yeah, and what did that guy say, I forget his name, he said he's gonna give all the electoral votes that George Bush needs to him?
Dean: Well, he didn't say exactly that, but--
Rhodes: --You know what I --
Dean: -- it's pretty bad--
Rhodes: -- He said, I think he said exactly, "I will deliver the electoral votes Bush needs."
Dean: (corrects her) He said, "I intend to do everything I can to make sure George Bush wins." And here's a guy that makes the voting machines, and now the voting machines have turned out to be able to be programmed. [He found out just how easily a couple of months later] There's no possibility of recounting these machines--
Rhodes: --No kidding! I voted on 'em, and let me tell you something. I voted in a little tiny local election, just to see, right? And the winner of that election won by 12 votes.
Rhodes: Except that there were, like, 200-and-something votes that disappeared!
Dean: You voted in that election?
Dean: Wow! I talk about that all the time on the campaign trail--
Rhodes: I just-- I just got to New York. I lived in Florida for 14 years.
Dean: Uh huh. Well, that['s a] really frightening election for your listeners just to hear about, maybe they've heard about it before on your show.
Rhodes: Well, Greg Palast has been on a million times. I love Greg. He's been a friend of mine ever since the Florida election. He was the only reporter I could find who would do the work.
Dean: Again, 'cause it was a-- there was a recount, they couldn't recount the ballots, 'cause they don't do recounts on touchscreen voting machines.
Rhodes: You're kidding! Because they were reprints. Hey listen, do I have to say goodbye to you now?
Dean: I don't know, whatever you...
Rhodes: Lemme put you on hold. Okay.
Dean: You've got the schedule.
Rhodes: Thank you. No I don't. (laughs) Hold on! I'm a Democrat, I am not organized. 58 after.
Rhodes: I thought Howard was gonna stay. But he didn't realize that it was going to be a whole big 10 minute thing. But we'll talk to him again. And I am going to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and I will make sure that I have a sit-down and meet him. 'Cause we really don't know each other, and it's a shame because, you know, he's very concerned, obviously. I didn't know this, but he's very concerned with the 'black box voting', and he's very concerned with what happened in Florida, you know, and that the votes didn't get counted.
So, that's good. That's really good, because Dean is campaigning for Kerry, he's one of these selfless guys. You gotta hand it to him. This is a guy who was an outsider in the Democratic Party.
I am too, and I know just exactly how that feels. I'm not-- maybe I am now, a "fancy pants elitist." Only because I work in New York with other fancy pants elitists. But I gotta tell you, like my whole career, I was always on the outside, and the guests didn't really wanna come on the show, 'cause I was a loose cannon, and you know, "what will she say?" and "what will she do?" and you know "maybe she'll ask me--" and I mean-- getting Oliver North was like, so easy because he heard "talk radio," he assumed "conservative". And he walked into my little lion's den-- he had no idea I wasn't conservative. But the Democrats know I'm a Democrat. That much they know.
But it's always been really difficult because they're very much on their guard. They're so scared of being set up, especially by talk radio people. It is all conservative, all the time, and so, maybe now that I work in New York I'm a "fancy pants elitist" and they understand "oh, well she's a New York broadcaster and she's liberal and ..."
I-- you know. But I don't know him, and we've never gotten to talk, and it's not for lack of trying. I mean I have tried to talk to him about a thousand times, and I know how hard it had to be for him, to be, you know, going for the nomination of the Democratic Party. It's very, very hard. It's almost impossible.
Clinton did it. He was a small-state governor. You know, but... I... hmmm.
I really did like Howard Dean. And what's very interesting to me is that, people tried to say, "Howard Dean was so angry. He's so angry. And that's why he couldn't..." And that's not why.
Politics, people, is really, really hardball. It is one of the nastiest, one of the most secretive, under... below the radar screen endeavors you will ever attempt. It is-- the Republicans are seriously twisted. They will expose your personal life and conceal theirs. They have had some of the most horrendous divorces, they have had some of the most horrendous ethics charges leveled against them-- and proven. They have had entire episodes in the 80's of these rings of gay boy prostitutes being brought into the White House--
I don't know how many people remember this, but it went on and on for a really long time and the only one that was ever willing to say anything about this, and to say it was true, was Barney Frank. Barney Frank. So now the Republicans walk on going, "well, he's a fag. He was part of-- he had a boy hooker." And he says, "yeah, I did, but you should've seen what was going on at the White House."
And the guy that was procuring all of the little boys for the White House, was a guy named Spence, and he ended up dead, after telling a lot of people in the media he was going to end up dead, that William Casey, the CIA director, was gonna have him killed, and that it was going to be made to look like a suicide. And it was.
So, these are the family values people who love to go hunting the Democrats, and the Democrats sort of kind of want to vet the people before they endorse them, to make sure that they're completely, wholly clean, anymore. You can't even have looked at a French postage stamp, maybe it had-- (a sound person can be heard laughing in the background) you know, 'cause Ashcroft'll say, "breasts are evil, and this one has them." I dunno.
So, that's why we can't have a female President, apparently, they have breasts, and they're evil.
But, you know, politics is difficult.
Audio file (mp3).