By labeling the other party a bastion of Christianity, he implied that his own was something else -- something determinedly secular.
Scream 2: The Sequel - Dean's Problem Isn't his Big Mouth
Dean's mouth gives the Democrats plenty to talk about.
By Howard Fineman and Tamara Lipper
June 20 issue
Dean . . . branded the Republican Party "pretty much a white, Christian party"—as if that were some kind of a crime. Wise guys of both camps viewed the statement as a blunder, because, well, most Americans are white Christians.
[A]s the permanent lead character in his own movie, Dean is always problematic. Something of a loner politically, he "doesn't have the Rolodex or the contacts that other people have," says Steve Grossman, a former DNC chairman and close ally. Dean is surrounded at the DNC with a new but rather small palace guard of people who believe in his vision and attitude—and who distrust the generation of Democrats that preceded them.
But Dean was only too glad to get insider help after his "white, Christian party" remark, which was just the latest in a steady stream of invective that many Democrats have viewed as counterproductive at best—at least if wooing Red State swing voters is the goal. Meeting privately with senators last week, Dean promised to watch himself more carefully. "It's important to make the news, not be the news," he told them, according to Sen. Chris Dodd.
But Dean's real problem may not be his mouth but his mind-set. He and his aides seemed genuinely mystified at the idea that his characterization of the GOP was a political mistake. But by labeling the other party a bastion of Christianity, he implied that his own was something else—something determinedly secular—at a time when Dean's stated aim is to win the hearts of middle-class white Southerners, many of whom are evangelicals. In a slide-show presentation at the DNC conference last weekend, polltaker Cornell Belcher focused on why those voters aren't responding to the Democrats' economic message. One reason, he said, is that too many of them see the Democrats as "anti-religion." And why was that? No one asked Dean, who wasn't taking questions from the press.