Unlike most would-be political humorists, Mark Steyn can actually be funny sometimes. (I especially liked the column he wrote after the video was broadcast of Osama bin Laden boasting about the September 11 attacks.)
But, as many of us have said of Michael Moore, even someone trying to entertain as well as convince has a responsibility to be truthful. Which is one reason Steyn’s latest column on Howard Dean rankles me.
As a veteran Dean-basher, I think Steyn scores his fair share of points against the man. But then he writes this:
Howard Dean catapulted himself from Vermont obscurity to national fame very ingeniously. His campaign was tonally brilliant. He was an angry peacenik, an aggressive defeatist, he got in-your-face about getting out of Iraq. The problem with pacifism as a political position is that it’s too easy to seem wimpy, wussy, nancy-boyish, pantywaisty, milksopping, etc. In that sense, his fellow Democrat, Dennis Kucinich, has a pacifist mien: I’m not saying he’s a pantywaist or milksop, but he comes over as a goofy nebbish, as the Zionist neocons would say. The main impact he’s made on the Granite State electorate seems to be his lack of a girlfriend, which has prompted a New Hampshire Web site to try and find a date for him. Somehow one is not surprised to hear this. By contrast, when Howard Dean, shortish and stocky, comes out in his rolled-up shirtsleeves, he looks like Bruce Banner just before he turns into the Incredible Hulk, as if his head’s about to explode out of his shirt collar. Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus, but Dr. Dean is Venusian in a very Martian way. He’s full of anger.
But despite Steyn’s insinuation, Dean is not a pacifist– he supported US military action in the first Gulf War, in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. And unlike Kucinich he does not advocate “getting out of Iraq.” He did oppose the war in Iraq– which to me is enough of an issue without making stuff up about him.
Then Steyn goes on to deride Dean for– at one point in his life– caring so passionately about a bicycle path in Burlington, Vermont, that he left the Episcopal church and became a Congregationalist.
According to Steyn, the wimpy liberals who care about things like bike paths loved the Clinton era because “it was all micro-politics, new regulations for this, new entitlements for that–education, environment, ‘social justice.'” He invents a mocking phrase for them: the Bike-Path Left.
As a bicycle-riding leftist who enjoys and appreciates bike paths– and even cares about pansy-assed stuff like education, environment and social justice– I suppose I should fall into that dread category. But, Mark, I also supported the Iraq war– does that get me a special exemption?