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Thank God for Howard Dean

After watching Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama slug it out and beat each other up, there is one name that shines for me and still gives me hope. It's neither of the above. It's Howard Dean.


The Pennsylvania primary results make me nervous. I'm in the midst of weighing staying strong for one candidate versus converting to the other, because this unfortunately still looks like a long, miserable, and divisive slugfest. Anyone hoping for a once-and-for-all settlement of who will represent Democrats going into November goes home bruised and disappointed. We're not any closer. On the other hand, it feels like we're farther away from that conclusion than ever. That in turn means Democrats still haven't been able to break through the starting gate and focus on the REAL business at hand: keeping John McCain out of the White House.

So, THANK YOU, Howard Dean. Thank you again. While we're stuck on hold waiting to be transferred either to Hillary or Barack, there is a voice that finally comes on the line. DNC Chairman Howard Dean steps into the void and gives us at least a little something - something more than just canned music while we're forced to wait.

It's about time. The real enemy for the Clinton forces is not Barack Obama. The real enemy for the Obama camp is not Hillary Clinton. The common enemy is John McCain. It's the Republicans we should be railing against, in unison - NOT EACH OTHER.

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It's the only thing that's giving me any relief - that Howard Dean has stepped forward, leading the Democratic Party's battle cry - and one that should have surfaced a LONG time ago: "Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago, or Eight Years Ago?" For the life of me, I can't figure out why that hasn't been on every Democrat's lips nonstop at least since January. We're being handed this on a plate - a lousy economy, jobs disappearing faster than Bush supporters' excuses, families working harder and longer for less money and no job security.

And yes, there's the security question. Seems to me this, too, is Homeland Security. It should be framed exactly that way. When a majority of us fears the wolf at the door more directly and intensely than some vaporous mystery meanie in a turban and heavy facial hair, how can we possibly feel strong and confident and invulnerable as a nation? When too many of us are a single paycheck, a single job loss, a single major accident, or a single health crisis away from an economic abyss, how are we safer, really? Especially when our military is broken, our treasury is empty, and some of our leaders are openly flirting with yet another armed conflict that will earn us more ill will internationally?

And why haven't our people been saying so more forcefully? This is a point I think we HAVE to make - not just to ourselves but to the rest of America. We have to start campaigning outward, toward the fellow we should constantly be referring to as John McSame or John McBush, rather than continuing to aim at each other.

So thank God for Howard Dean - for issuing the first campaign commercial that says what needs to be said, shrewdly hijacking that simple but effective one-line question from the GOP's own "St. Ronnie." It's what I wish I could have heard continuously from either Hillary Clinton OR Barack Obama - or both, and all their surrogates - for months. I put my faith in Howard Dean four years ago, only to be overruled by another Democrat. I was correct then, and I'm correct now. He won't be our party's standard-bearer, but he's unleashed what the party line MUST be, and finally, it's out there in public where it belongs, where it can be said, read, and spread until it embeds under the skin and deep in the psyche of every voter in America. Four years later and once-removed, Howard Dean may yet lead us as Democrats out of the weeds.