The Randi Rhodes Show
January 12, 2005
Randi Rhodes, Host: Oh, very funny. Play "Doctor Feelgood" for Governor Howard Dean, M.D.? See, now I'm all embarrassed and stuff.
All right, everybody. My pick for the head of the DNC, the Chairman of the DNC, Howard Dean-- Governor Howard Dean, M.D., hi.
Governor Howard Dean: Hey, how are you?
Rhodes: I'm great. How's Judy?
Dean: She's great.
Dean: Actually, she really is an M.D. I'm an M.D., but I don't practice anymore.
Rhodes: Oh, you don't wanna practice, 'cause you might get good at it.
Rhodes: Then where would we be, you know?
Dean: That's right. That's right.
Rhodes: So, you know, we have agreed previously that we would make this about gar-- you know, grassroots Democrats, being able to talk to you.
Rhodes: And finding out ways to support you in your chairmanship, ah, whaddayacallit, bid, quest, I don't know. But I would love to see you head the DNC, so I'll start up with my question, OK?
Rhodes: My question is, Governor, why is the Democratic Party moving to the center, and-- maybe I'll make it a double. Why is it moving to the center and behaving as if it has a tin ear?
Dean: Well, we actually already are the center. We don't-- the problem is, the Republicans keep moving further and further to the right, hoping that the center is gonna move to the right. We don't wanna do that. We wanna be who we are. Balanced budgets. Individual rights to determine what kind of health care they get for themselves and not have politicians do it. Equal rights for every single American. Job opportunities. These are the things that Democrats oughtta stand up for. There's nothing that's not centrist about that agenda. The Republicans have just gone so-- become so extreme, that they try to claim that the Democrats-- some Democrats think that we need to move toward the Republicans, and I don't think we do.
Rhodes: Well, I think that there is this problem inside the Beltway, I really do. And I think the problem is that they don't ever get out here and figure out what it is we're talkin' about amongst ourselves as good Democrats. And it certainly has a lot to do with voter disenfranchisement, and it certainly has a lot to do with this bogus war, and that there were no weapons of mass destruction, they've known this since before the election, but don't announce it til today. Everybody that makes a mistake gets promoted. I mean, we're not stupid out here, but they have a tin ear when it comes to what grassroots Democrats are saying to each other.
Dean: I think that's true...
Rhodes: There were no 'values' voters, by the way. That was-- and they say in the Beltway, and they believe these stories, "Oh, they were 'values voters'". Well, do a little research! You'll find that there's 4 million evangelical Christians in this country. But there were over 100 million voters!
Dean: Furthermore, not all of the evangelical Christians vote Democrat--
Dean: -- I mean, vote Republican. And we need to fix that as well. [and they did.]
You know, the truth is, there are more values consistent with evangelical Christians in the Democratic Party than there are in the Republican Party. They always bring up gay rights and abortion. You know, what about helping the poor? What about helping children? What about making sure-- 'cause you know, the President's just cut $300 million out of a program that's helped poor kids abroad to stave off starvation. Now, he did that so he could give tax cuts to people like Ken Lay from Enron. I-- you know, that's not-- I don't think that's a particularly Christian value.
Rhodes: I agree with you. I looked at an article today that said that we have, here in America, a worse infant mortality rate than Cuba!
Dean: Well, that may be true. Exactly. And that's the kind of thing... You know, some of these folks talk a big game, but if you want to be religious, let's remember the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They're the ones that talked a big game and didn't do much for people. And you know, Christianity was a reaction to that. Let's remember what real Christian values are. They're about humility. They're about helping the-- walking with the least among us, and I don't see a whole lot of that on the Republican side.
Rhodes: And you know something? I was in the military, that's how they train. They train you that you're only as good as the weakest guy in your battalion, or the weakest guy in your squadron, the weakest guy in your wing, depending on what service you're in. That's how they train! They train ya like a liberal. And they say, if there's a guy who is very weak, he's gonna getcha killed! So ya better make sure he's doing as well as everybody else so you won't get punished. That's the way they teach.
If it's good enough for the military, if it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!
Rhodes: Yeah, I agree.
All right, let me get to the calls 'cause I promised people I would turn you over to them.
This is Bruce in New York for Governor Howard Dean.
Bruce in New York: Randi and Governor Dean, an honor to speak with you both.
Dean and Rhodes: Thank you.
[but then Bruce is broken up/cut off]
Rhodes: I can't hear him.
Bruce in New York: ... my question to you--
Dean: I can hear him.
Bruce in New York: My question is, are you going to do a better job of controlling our party's talking points, and how we address the issues? Because I watched our people get spun. I mean, you just did it just now. You talked about tax cuts. It was no tax cut. All it was was a loan to millionaires and for little people like us, 300 bucks. And our kids are gonna pay for it. We should never use-- the Democrats-- the word 'tax cut', because there wasn't one.
Dean: Well, that's a good point. They reduced taxes for big corporations, but they raised them for everybody else, that's absolutely true. And they certainly raised them for our children.
Rhodes: Ah, yeah. The idea that we got tax cuts-- you know, I argued this a lot, and I got a lot of heat from Republicans when I was broadcastin' in Palm Beach. It's not a tax cut, it was an advance. They gave the 3 and the 600 dollars as an advance on next year's tax bill. So that people didn't really get anything, they just got stuff early.
Dean: Well, that's true, but the big problem is that middle class people never got a tax cut at all.
Rhodes: That's what I'm saying!
Dean: The cost of their college went up, the cost of their health insurance went up, 'cause the President's running this enormous deficit.
But look, the point is not to bash the President all the time. We know he's been the worst President since Warren Harding.
Dean: The problem is, we gotta have another set of ideals for this country. We've gotta talk honestly and frankly about the problems in this country and not make stuff up. And that's really the challenge for the Democrats.
You know, I think everybody did a fine job of getting out the vote, and people who didn't like George Bush. It was 48% but that's not enough. And next time, we've gotta have a positive program that we're gonna push through, not just an attack on George Bush all the time. We know his record is awful, the public knows his record is awful. We need to remind them about that, but we really need to tell them before we get in office, what we're gonna do that's positive.
Rhodes: I agree.
Chris in New York for Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Chris in New York: Hi. Is that me?
Chris in New York: Hi. I also fell in love with Howard Dean, I said that earlier, and I want to go to that, but I have a statement and I have a question. I would love to see you be Chairman of the DNC, but I have to tell you, I am totally-- and I can speak for many people with whom I've spoken-- the whole primary process and the whole electoral process in this country, I really, sincerely believe is rigged. And so, when I voted for you during the primaries-- for me, it's difficult to believe that someone could have such a wave of admiration, such a-- really inspire people, when they have been sleeping for so many years, and all of a sudden, they drop in the polls.
Now, having said that, I would love to see-- if you do get the chairmanship, which I would love to see you get, would you try to bring about change regarding the primaries? I mean, I think that, if you consider that we do have 50 states in this country, and the candidate is more or less selected after the second state. That's undemocratic.
Dean: Oh, we definitely don't want that to happen again. We definitely want to-- I think--
Rhodes: You know, I'll tell you what she's trying to tell you. She's trying to tell you that she suspects that you really did win, and that the party itself did something to you.
Dean: [pause] Well, I don't believe that.
Rhodes: I do. [laughs] I do.
Dean: You know, I think that... there's no question that the other candidates all got together to make sure I didn't win. But I don't really think that the party had anything to do with it. And there's no question that I really didn't win. I didn't-- after losing 6 or 20 or whatever primaries in a row-- you know, it's time to stop.
Rhodes: You didn't lose 20 primaries!
Dean: Well, you know, John Edwards lost 19 in a row, and he didn't do so well either.
But the truth was... I mean, I don't think it's really "fixed" in that way. I do think that some of the Republican stuff is bad. I think some of these Secretaries of State, notably Katherine Harris, and Glenda Hood in Florida and Clint Blackwell, they-- it's very clear that they suppressed turnout, particularly in minority areas. It's very clear that they tried to make it more difficult for people to vote. Which I don't think is the job of the Secretary of State.
One of the things I wanna do if I become the DNC chairman is to focus, as the Republicans do, on key offices that have something to do with counting votes. 'Cause it used to be-- and in some cases it still is-- the Republican Secretary of State in Washington appears to have done a very good job under very difficult circumstances. It used to be that Secretary of State's office, even though it was a party election, was a nonpartisan person whose job was to get out as many people to vote as possible regardless of the outcome. We need to go back to that. You cannot trust the Republicans very often any more on these kinds of issues, because they seem to have put loyalty to their party above loyalty to America, and I think that is one of the reasons we're in such terrible trouble.
Rhodes: I agree with you, 'cause I voted in Florida. I know you had a lot to do with Teresa LePore and getting her out of office, and that was where I voted, I voted in Palm Beach County in 2000 and in 2004. And I just couldn't believe it. I mean, voting into a black box one time, and the time before that was ... the voter suppression that went-- it's gotta be changed, you cannot have--
Dean: Well, one thing I'd like to see on the ballot in Florida, is an initiative that says that you cannot use voting machines that can't be recounted by hand.
Rhodes: Exactly. Paper or--
Dean: They have that in Oregon, and it eliminates all this stuff, this nonsense that goes on with these touchscreen voting machines, where you touch the screen, and you don't really know if you really voted for the person you thought you voted for, or not. People are gonna lose confidence in American democracy if we keep up with this silliness.
Rhodes: I agree, and all the errors were in favor of Bush, there wasn't one error screen that came up and awarded a Bush vote to Kerry. Every time it happened, it happened the other way around.
So, I think the lesson here is, don't sell the ballot box to the corporate world. There's something very obscene about all that.
Anyway, Denny on Long Island for Howard Dean.
Denny on Long Island: How ya doing, Randi, and how ya doing, Governor. I would like to say that actually, I was very disappointed with the Democratic Party for a number of years. I've been involved for a long time, and on many different levels. When you ran, I joined your campaign. I collected signatures for you. You energized me, you energized a number of different people. One of the things that I see here, and I just recently became chairman of the Southhampton Democratic Committee.
Dean: Good for you.
Denny on Long Island: And [inaudible] ... I have to thank you for that, 'cause if it wasn't for your campaign, I probably wouldn't have gotten involved with the Democrats all over again. But I would like to say the simple fact that we are not supported at the local levels. And...
Rhodes: Hmmmm, very good, very good.
Denny on Long Island: That's where the problem is. A lot of people don't understand that. At the local levels where, really, the day-to-day stuff that affects us really does take place in, there is no money coming in at the local levels. But Republicans do give each other money at the local level. Democrats don't.
Rhodes: OK, let him answer. I think that's a great point. I think our state parties are in sad shape, and I know our locals are.
Dean: It's actually one of the platforms I'm running on, for the DNC, is to beef up local parties. We really do have to wor-- it matters who the Secretary of State is, it matters who the school board member is. It matters-- these things matter, these offices. We had a great success with getting people who'd never run for office before, to run. And that makes a big difference, 'cause when you get people to run for office, they begin to understand how the system works. And it can still work for us, but it isn't gonna work unless we get good people to get involved. I'm really pleased with the caller who said that he got back into politics and ran for the town committee in Southhampton. Now he's gonna have some influence on who the party chairs are, and he's gonna have some influence on getting good candidates locally.
Dean: That stuff matters a lot.
Rhodes: Yeah, it really does.
Dean: That's what grassroots really is. You don't start by running for President, you start by getting on your County Committee, which is what I did.
Rhodes: And that's one of the things that... you know, I love the most, really, is that you understood that there are problems at the local level, there are problems at the state party level, and that's why I think the DNC Chairmanship has your name all over it. Plus, you know how to raise money, which is what the DNC does. So what can anybody do to help you in this campaign?
Dean: Well, first of all, we don't want people to do too much, 'cause there's only 447 people that vote...
Dean: ...and we don't want them having 70,000 emails, you know, and all that kinda stuff in their inbox.
Rhodes: That's why I'm asking. Cause that I can do, but we don't wanna do that.
Dean: No, we don't wanna do that. Here's what I'd really like people to do.
If you know somebody on the DNC... Oh, I think there's probably 20-something-odd members from New York. Well, if you know one of them personally, as the last caller might, give 'em a call. Or write. That story that he just told is a great story. If you wrote somebody a letter or an email saying, "I was never involved before the Dean campaign." That is why I'd like to be Chairman. So we can bring these new people in, and keep them in, with some excitement for our base.
I'm a big believer-- frankly, there's nothing Karl Rove does that I admire, except his insight into the electorate. The truth is, you don't win elections in the swing votes. You win elections by getting your base out to vote. That's how they won, that's how we need to win, and you can't do it, unless you stand up for the things that you believe in.
Rhodes: What day do we vote? What day does the DNC vote?
Dean: It's February 12th.
So if you do know members, that's fine. If you wanna write a letter to somebody in your state, who's a member of the DNC, that's fine. But what we don't want you to do, unless you know people personally, is to contact folks from out of state. 'Cause there's nothing [like] getting a ton of emails from people you have no idear who they are.
Rhodes: Yeah. I'm very reserved about doing that too. I'll only call 'em out when I see voter disenfranchisement, then I make people write a lot of letters.
Why do you think that the Congressional Black Caucus is the only voting bloc in the Democrat party? How come they're always unified, and the Democrats are, you know, they'll vote with the Republicans on voter disenfranchisement?
Dean: Well, let's not-- to be fair, that's not entirely true. In the House, the majority of Democrats voted against the war-- a significant majority of Democrats.
Dean: ...including the leadership. So they don't all vote with the Republicans.
It's true that the Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus tend to vote as blocs, because that's because the issues that affect their representatives are shared. Disenfranchisement, trouble with education... they do tend to vote together because the folks that they represent have the same kinds of problems.
But there are a lot of progressive Congresspeople of all ethnic groups, that really do good things.
[inaudible] people in the Senate, Ted Kennedy just gave a fantastic speech today [drowned out by Randi].
Dean: Jay Rockefeller, I mean there are many-- Pat Leahy, my own Jim Jeffords, my own two home state Senators. There are many good people in the Senate who do good things too. It's just that-- the problem is, we lose issues because sometimes they are afraid to take issue with the President. [drowned out by Randi]
Rhodes: Well, that fear has got to go away. Democrats can't run in fear any more.
Dean: Well, that's right.
Rhodes: Lemme take one more call, because then we'll be completely out of time, and I wanted to give it to Bart in New Jersey.
Bart in New Jersey: Governor Dean, it's an honor to speak with you. My question was, have you done anything yet to reach out to some of the former Democrats, like Nader and Jan Pierce, formerly of TWA, who bolted the Democratic Party as it drifted to the center?
Dean: Well, I don't think that Nader's particularly interested in coming back to the Democratic party. We have an enormous number of fol- his former supporters with us. The Democracy For America group that we have is not just Democrats. About half are Democrats, half are Greens and other progressives, and half frankly are modera-- I mean, the rest-- some of them are moderate Republicans and McCain and Perot people. What they all have in common is they want reform. They want substantial changes in how we conduct our elections, in our health care system, in our education system, how we protect our environment, and in our foreign policies. We don't always agree on exactly what reforms we wanna have, but we do agree on that we need to (a) tell things like they are, and (b) we want real fundamental change so people can be honest about our problems again.
Rhodes: You know what I find absolutely disgusting and disturbing, is it seems like everybody in the Bush Administration that lied or forged documents, the uranium/Niger deal, he's going to the State Department to be our arms negotiator? Gonzales writes torture memos, and Graner goes on trial for, he's facing 17 ½ years in prison, for a policy that was set by Gonzales, and Gonzales is now gonna-- he's now being confirmed for Attorney General?? Doesn't it seem to you that every time-- and it's so funny that the Dan Rather story, it's like, "we don't-- we think Dan Rather should be fired because he used a forged document," and yet-- that's exactly-- it's like they project, you know.
Dean: That really is an interesting point, I hadn't thought about that, in terms of the right wing wants to fire Dan Rather, but they won't fire their own people who participate in that kind of business. And we know it's been documented that they have participated in that kind of business.
Rhodes: Fake news. Armstrong Williams gettin' paid with taxpayer dollars.
Dean: That is really an outrage.
Rhodes: Oh my god. And you know, they all get promoted for doing this stuff. It's just-- it's very, very wrong. The country's going down a bad road.
I would love for you to feel free to check in off the air, tell us whatever it is that you think might help you, because I think that this group here-- there's about 8 million of us, by the way, that you're talkin' to-- we want you as the DNC chair.
Dean: Well, you're great, and I thank you very much, thanks for being so helpful during the elections as well.
Rhodes: Aw, it was my pleasure. You're a good man. Thank you.
Dean: Thanks to all your listeners.
Rhodes: And thank you.
Rhodes: Bye, Governor Dean.
I love him. I'm in love.
I do. I -- there's something very energizing about him. His honesty, his frankness... I don't think he's ever hedged a question. Even if it was a difficult answer, he just said it. I find it refreshing, and I think Republicans will, too, and that's a beautiful thing. Maybe they'll start talkin' about movin' to the left. Hmm.