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Defending Dean

Alli deJong | Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Mike Marchand’s Jan. 26 column seems intent on promulgating Republican talking points and media spin about his Iowa speech. Contrary to his assertions, Howard Dean has climbed upwards in some New Hampshire polls, and seems to be staging somewhat of a “comeback.”I was in that audience Monday night. I had spent the whole weekend working extraordinarily hard for a candidate for whom I have tremendous respect. I cannot understand this huge fuss about “the scream.”Howard Dean is a man, an ordinary human, who was an excellent governor and will be an excellent president. At his speech last Monday night, he was “giving everything to the people who gave everything for me.” He had an outburst of emotion, fed off of an extremely loud, energetic crowd. Why do we see this as wrong? Al Gore was criticized as “too boring.” Now we have a candidate, passionate and hungry for change and justice for ordinary Americans, and pundits are calling for his head. Was his speech “presidential?” No, and even he admits that. But why did it have to be? What is “presidential” anyway? If “presidential” is balancing 11 budgets in a row, providing health care for 99 percent of children and 96 percent of adults, reducing child abuse by 50 percent and child sexual abuse by 75 percent and bolstering Vermont’s economy, then Howard Dean is certainly presidential.Contrary to the media spin, Dean’s speech Monday night was not angry or maniacal. He was smiling and laughing – and so was everyone else in the room. This “Dean is angry” meme is a farce. Are there reasons for him to be angry? Certainly! A crippling deficit, 511 U.S. soldiers dead and over 10,000 wounded and evacuated and the worst environmental record in history are plenty to be angry about. Dean’s opposition to Iraq attracted me and many others to his campaign, but the hope and promise that he offers, and delivered to Vermont, is what kept us.Many of us who went to Iowa from Michiana have hope in Dean’s candidacy. There is Kelly, who admires his education policies, as well as his principles and commitment to “giving America back to Americans.” Then there is Brian, who supports Dean because he “wants to live in a country that is revered for our leadership, not reviled for our aggression.” There is Kathy, whose son is a Marine who will be returning to Iraq, who knows that Dean will not cut the defense budget because the troops are not being supplied well enough – her son was equipped with an M-16 with no sight on it and a Kevlar vest without bulletproof plates. There are five people I have met from Tokyo, and one from Palestine, and lots from Texas and California – all driven by hope that the country can be better. On Monday night, I stood with my fellow Americans and waved our flag. I even started up a chant, shouting, “USA! USA!” I have never done either of these things before and in fact had been somewhat repulsed by this behavior for most of my life. Monday night was the first time in my life that I realized the flag stood for us. The flag stood for the power to make this country a great place for everyone and not just for rich people. Howard Dean has given me hope for America, hope that our country will recognize and help ordinary, hard-working Americans instead of giant corporations, hope that our nation can be a beacon of hope for the world instead of a bombing campaign.Please join us at our first meeting of Domers for Dean, Thursday at 7:30 in Lafortune

Alli deJongfreshmanBreen-Phillips HallJan. 26