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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Pinocchio Candidate

Dave Winer went to see Howard Dean speak and was extremely disappointed:

There were 150 people in the room, mostly it was about lies, bedtime stories, telling people what they want to hear. No minds activated. Some good lines, a glimmer that minds may have played a role in the Dean campaign at one time, but not today. Now they're trying to get elected, and I believe in doing so are guaranteeing that they won't.

When I was posting this I was thinking about a recent Jay Rosen point that to debunk a claim, you must first substantiate that there exists said claim with links or quotes. So does Dave's post mean that we can now discuss the claim that even staunch politically-oriented Democrats think Dean is a liar?

Even though most politicians spin the truth, Dean is more comfortable with his lies than other candidates. Couple this with his campaign's claim of political purity and his tendency to spout-off like a blogger and I think we will see his consistent unabashed falsifications become a centerpiece of this campaign.

Here is the latest exhibit from today's NY Times:

Dean Rebuked for Statement Implying Brother Served in Military

PEMBROKE, N.H., Dec. 22 — Howard Dean came under criticism from an Iowa newspaper last weekend for an answer to a questionnaire in which he implied that his brother was serving in the military when he disappeared in Laos 29 years ago. His brother had been traveling in Southeast Asia as a tourist.

Asked by The Quad-City Times, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, to complete the sentence "My closest living relative in the armed services is," Dr. Dean wrote in August, "My brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead."

The brother, 23-year-old Charles Dean, whose apparent remains were recovered by a military search team last month in Laos, was classified as missing in action, along with other civilians captured or killed in the area during the Vietnam War. But Charles Dean never wore a uniform, and while some family members at times suspected that he was working as a spy, Dr. Dean said he never believed that.

His answer to the newspaper's question, published on Dec. 14 as part of a regular feature on The Quad-City Times's editorial page in which the Democratic presidential candidates respond to questions intended to probe their persona, drew complaints from readers and a rebuke from the newspaper's editorial board on Sunday. The editorial was circulated to a handful of reporters on Monday by a rival campaign.

Dr. Dean was asked about his answer by a reporter after a town hall meeting here on a day when he took aim at President Bush for what he called a "callous" refusal to press Congress for an extension of unemployment benefits.

"The way I read the question was that they wanted to know if I knew anything about the armed services from a personal level," he said. "I don't think it was inaccurate or misleading if anybody knew what the history was, and I assumed that most people knew what the history was. Anybody who wanted to write about this could have looked through the 23-year history to see that I've always acknowledged my brother's a civilian, was a civilian."

Mark Ridolfi, editor of the paper's editorial page, noted that the question had specifically asked about the armed services and said of Dr. Dean's reply, "It certainly is not an accurate response."

Due to the structure of the Democratic primary system and Dean's big lead in the early primaries, it may be too late for the Democrats to choose a more truthful candidate. But you never know.