Dear Howard

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(HOST) On February 10th, the Democratic National Party will choose a new chairman. Among the declared candidates is Vermont’s ex-Governor Howard Dean. This morning commentator Philip Baruth offers his own unique strategy for victory.

(BARUTH) Dear Howard – Babe, if I still may.

Howard, let’s talk turkey. You didn’t get elected. You and I will not be celebrating your inauguration together this month. We may now never get to do any of the things that winners and their spin doctors do, like sit in the White House screening room, eating gourmet cheddar popcorn brought to us by white-gloved valets and watching first-run films like “Meet The Fockers”, with the stars right there in the screening room: Streisand, De Niro, Ben Stiller.

We won’t be doing that kind of stuff, Babe, and don’t think I don’t know that I’m partly to blame.

Back before the first Primary debates, I gave you what I felt in my gut was rock-solid advice. I told you your Achilles Heel was Bernie Sanders, and it wouldn’t be long before the attack ads started. Ads showing your picture and Bernie’s picture merging into one truly nightmarish photo: a radical Socialist with your face and Bernie’s hair.

I was wrong. But how could I know, Howard, about The Scream?

That’s right, Babe. The Scream. I feel you reaching for the radio dial out there, but don’t do it. This is a boil that needs lancing, because what do you think those other candidates for DNC Chairman are whispering about right now in back rooms all over America? Bingo – the “I Have a Scream” Speech. It’s all America remembers about you now, big guy – harsh, but true. I don’t know if you spend much time on the Internet these days, but the Scream is big there. There are whole websites devoted to remixing the Scream with hip-hop and theme songs from ’70s TV shows. They’ve even mingled it with the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Howard, a song I’ve always secretly loved called “Who Can Turn The World on with Her Smile”. At the point where Mary flings her beret in the air, the song now finishes with a “Yee Ha” and it breaks my heart, Howard, for you, and for Mary.

And then there are the doctored photos of you giving the speech. Let’s don’t even go there.

But slow down and think, Babe, because that’s what you’re good at. Remember when George Bush got caught calling a Times reporter a major league you-know-what? And Dick Cheney responded with the phrase, “big time”? It could have been lights out for those two. But Cheney swaggered off Air Force Two the next day and his staff pumped Peter Gabriel’s song “Big Time” through the plane’s loudspeakers. And now that’s his Secret Service code name. Cheney worked that phrase. He owned it.

That’s my advice, Babe: work it, own it. So here’s an idea I’m totally spinning out off the top of my head. In the five weeks before the DNC election, you do your own remix: the Scream sampled over Ricky Martin’s “La Vida Loca.” Crazy, right? But here comes the beauty part: you post the song as a free download on Apple’s I-Tunes website. In a week, you’re rockin’ every IPOD on the planet. All the sudden you’re a symbol of youth, and energy. You show you can laugh at yourself. And you’re in tight with the Hispanic vote, which we’re gonna need in 2008.

That’s all for now, Babe. But hit me on my cell phone today. We got gourmet cheddar popcorn to pop.

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