Are Conservatives Really Scared of Dean?

Chris Bateman ’05 wrote an op-ed in today’s Daily Dartmouth proclaiming that conservatives are now scared of DNC chairman Howard Dean. Last weekend’s candlelight vigil mocking Dean, he says, shows that conservatives are just trying to “laugh off” the chairman’s coming onslaught. I disagree, but that’s only natural.

The article, though, centers around an analysis of the National Review. Bateman claims the magazine, which sarcastically asked Democrats in 2003 to “Please, Nominate This Man,” has grown wary of the failed presidential candidate and has ceased mocking him. In his words,

Howard Dean is back and now it’s largely anxiety conservatives are showing. On the National Review website you’ll find no headlines reading, “Thank you for electing this man.” Instead, in “Beware the Doctor,”National Review staff writer Eric Pfeiffer writes, “Conservatives should not underestimate Howard Dean.”

To say that the bastion of conservative journalism had ceased mocking him would be a fine argument, if only it were true. In fact, National Review‘s editors wrote an editorial on February 2nd reaffirming their “support” for Howard Dean.

But, in the meantime, there will be Dean, who would represent another step by the Democrats into the quicksand of outdated orthodoxies and self-pleasing emotionalism. … [C]onservative Republicans will reap all sorts of benefits from a Democratic party resolute about wandering further into the wilderness. For that reason, contemplating the possibility of Dean as DNC chairman makes part of us want to beg, “Please, please, please, select this man.”

Bateman further opined that conservatives stand in awe of

Dean’s proven fundraising ability and the legions of grassroots progressives he inspires. All this makes them [conservatives, especially at National Review] a little worried.

But wait! The very same National Review editorial mercilessly derides these supposed qualities, noting that

the Internet activity grew up under Dean almost by accident, as a few web-savvy aides took advantage of the brushfire while the governor remained blissfully ignorant of the Internet and all its doings. … Dean ran a laughably disorganized campaign beset by poisonous infighting of epic proportions. He flamed out in embarrassing fashion while running through $52 million in ways no one yet quite understands.

As I wrote earlier in the week, the Daily D‘s editors really need to do a better job of fact-checking.

Note: Updated somewhat for clarity and additional detail.