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Howard Dean's religion problem. Beyond Belief
The New Republic ^ | 12-23-03 | Franklin Foer

Posted on 12/23/2003 8:28:12 AM PST by deport

December 23, 2003

Howard Dean's religion problem.
Beyond Belief
by Franklin Foer

Talk to sensible Howard Dean supporters these days, and they'll tell you that the former governor's campaign to date has been a grand sleight of hand. Sure, it has harnessed Bush hatred and antiwar fervor. But the real Dean isn't a frothing lefty like his supporters; he's a closet centrist. Once he finishes exploiting the left's anger to seal the nomination, he will reveal his true self, elegantly pivoting to the middle. As The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei put it in early December, "[Dean] has provided [himself] ample room to modify his image." 

On paper, there is a good reason to believe this strategy could work. For all his red-meat, liberal rhetoric, Dean hasn't committed himself to many policy positions that can be portrayed as far left--unlike, say, Richard Gephardt, with his massive $230 billion health care plan. After the primaries are over, Dean will be able to emphasize his commitment to fiscal discipline, his opposition to gun control, and even the hawkish streak in his foreign policy prior to 2002. (Dean was a rare Democratic supporter of the first Gulf war.) The problem is that, no matter how much he talks about these authentically centrist impulses, Dean will still have a hard time selling himself as a moderate. It's not just his opposition to the war--though that may pose more of a problem now that Saddam Hussein has been captured. No, the real reason Dean will not be able to escape a liberal caricature has little to do with policy and everything to do with a warning flag that will mark him as culturally alien to much of the country: Howard Dean is one of the most secular candidates to run for president in modern history. 

Dean himself is frank on this point, perhaps too frank. "[I] don't go to church very often," the Episcopalian-turned-Congregationalist remarked in a debate last month. "My religion doesn't inform my public policy." When Dean talks about organized religion, it is often in a negative context. "I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore," he shouted at the California Democratic Convention in March. And, when he discusses spirituality, it is generally divorced from any mention of God or church. "We are not cogs in a corporate machine," he preached last month in Iowa. "We are human, spiritual beings who deserve better consideration as human beings than we're getting from this administration." 

One day, a truly secular candidate might be able to run for president without suffering at the polls. But that day won't be soon. This is, for better or worse, an openly religious country that prefers its politicians to be openly religious, too--a trend that has only become more pronounced in recent national elections. A 2000 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 70 percent of Americans want their president to be a person of faith. This religious vote isn't just concentrated in Southern states that a Democrat has no chance of carrying. It also saturates the Midwest, where Dean would have to win to have a chance at the presidency. (According to the American Religious Identification Survey, only about 15 percent of respondents in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois describe themselves as nonreligious.) Indeed, in the last five presidential elections, the candidate who more aggressively conveyed his religiosity (whether honestly or not so honestly) won. Seen in this light, a popular contest between Dean's secularism and George W. Bush's heartfelt faith could be, well, no contest. And the same, in turn, could be true of the election. 

  Dean, to be fair, recognizes the need to provide some sort of narrative of his faith--an answer to Bush's story of Billy Graham-inspired redemption from alcoholism. For Dean, the road to Damascus goes around Lake Champlain. In 1980, Dean, then a practicing doctor in Burlington, caught wind that a local real estate developer was planning to build a pair of high-rise condominiums on the shore of the lake. For most of its recent history, the shorefront had been an industrial wasteland; now, it was going to become a haven for avaricious developers, without any public access. Along with a Burlington lawyer named Rick Sharp, Dean began to campaign against the project, proposing in its place a scenic nine-mile bike trail. "He became a crusader," says Sharp. Dean went door to door with leaflets; he stood in the street with petitions; he cleared brush and laid bricks. 

The early '80s were a time when progressives dominated Burlington politics, having even stuck a socialist in city hall. Dean and his crusaders tapped this raw liberalism and turned the real estate developers into a communal bête noire, killing the condo project in 1981. Then, the hard part began: getting the land for the bike trail--a fight that ultimately wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Part of the struggle involved convincing the local Episcopal diocese to cede ownership of a stretch of old railroad tracks that ran across their property. When the church first resisted, threatening to join a lawsuit, "Howard went to talk to them into it," says Sharp. Thanks to Dean's persistence, the Episcopalians eventually succumbed. But their initial resistance left a bad taste in Dean's mouth. As Dean has described it in recent months, the dispute over the bike path caused him to break with the Episcopal Church and become a Congregationalist. 

As conversion stories go, Dean's hardly conforms to the conventions of the genre. Rather than show how religion helped him to change his life--see, again, Bush overcoming the bottle--it shows how a conflict in everyday life made Dean change his religion. Not only is the role of religion in the story subsidiary; it's also essentially negative. More important still, Dean's spiritual narrative is, well, not very spiritual. His moment of truth has nothing to do with God or theology or personal faith; rather, it's about local politics. It's hard to imagine this story will resonate with religious voters, because very few people would untether themselves from their spiritual home over a bike path. Indeed, when Dean first explained his denominational switch on ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos was incredulous: "Over the bike path?" Most people respond that way, even Dean's friends and family. My questions about the centrality of the bike path take them by surprise. "I have never heard that before," says his brother James Dean. "I had another reporter ask me that, but he never told me that at the time," remembers Sharp. 

Whatever the reason for Dean's decision to switch denominations, it was part of what seems to have been a personal journey away from organized religion altogether. For generations, Dean's family members were stalwarts of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in East Hampton, New York. His father had served as the church warden. And, every Sunday until his thirteenth birthday, Dean attended St. Luke's himself. "When we were about thirteen," says James, "Dad said, 'We're not going to make you go to church anymore.'" When Howard Dean stopped attending church, it wasn't just rebellion against his devout father. It was a sign of the times. During the 1950s and 1960s, mainline Protestantism lost its grip on the elite. In a courageous act of noblesse oblige, the elite had democratized its schools and universities and given them a secular, nondenominational tint. But, in the process of secularizing these institutions, they ruined their prime instruments for inculcating Protestantism. Once upon a time, Dean's prep school, St. George's in Newport, Rhode Island, might have given him a healthy dose of "muscular Christianity." Instead, his theology classes consisted of lessons in ethics and a more "literary" reading of the Bible. 

Dean's decision to join the Congregationalists in 1982 didn't just coincide with his bike-path fight with the Episcopal Church. It also coincided with his first campaign for the state legislature. Like all American politicians, even in progressive Burlington, he needed a spiritual mailing address. As he shopped around for churches, it was natural that he turned to Congregationalism, a denomination famous for its informality and liberal stances. Last November, Dean told a reporter from the Forward that he liked that "there is no central authority" in the tradition. By the time Dean joined the church, Congregationalists had already authorized the ordination of gay ministers. Yoga is taught in the church. Sermons sometimes make the case for lefty causes, especially the plight of the Palestinians. (Last June, a sermon at Dean's own Congregationalist church blared, "The real violence is the violence of the occupation of Israel to over three million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.") 

Dean's decision to switch churches is not the only way in which his religious journey progressed from more to less structured--or in which he mimicked his class as a whole. Soon after the Protestant elites had opened their institutions, they opened their families, with intermarriage becoming common in the 1970s and '80s. "New England Protestants have assimilated Catholics and Jews. We are constantly searching for a combination of rituals and doctrines. We're not afraid to cherry-pick," says Peter Hall, a Harvard professor who studies religious politics. So, when Dean married a Jewish woman, Judith Steinberg, in 1981, nobody paid much notice. (His father, after all, had married a Catholic.) The new Dean family would celebrate Christmas and Passover. Religion in the household became not only nontraditional but extremely casual. As Dean put it at a candidate forum in November, "We go to temple once in a while, and, last time I went, we got a lecture about Jews that only go to temple on high holy days, just like I used to get a lecture at the Congregational church about Christians that only go to church on Christmas and Easter." As James Dean told me, "[Religion] is just not something we really talk about." 

  Dean's ambivalent spiritual narrative would likely pose problems for him on the national level under any circumstances. But, in 2004, it could play straight into Karl Rove's hands. Rove has been surprisingly blunt about the centrality of faith in his electoral calculus. In 2001, he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the previous election had been so close for only one reason: evangelicals. "Four million of them failed to turn out and vote," Rove explained. Ever since Bush entered office, Rove has been obsessed with altering this result. Newsweek describes the evangelical vote as "the primary demographic objective of [Bush-Cheney 2004]." In pursuit of this objective, Rove has dispatched Ralph Reed, of Christian Coalition fame, to manage campaign operations in the Southeast (read: Florida); the Southern Baptist Convention will plaster its churches with voting guides. 

But successfully turning out the evangelical vote is far from inevitable. That's because there has been a decade-long trend of Christian conservatives retreating from the political activism of the mid-'90s. In part, this is a consequence of the decay of the Christian Coalition and other organizations that stoked evangelical participation. And, in part, it is a consequence of Bush's political strategy. Even as he has tried to throw bones to evangelicals, pushing pet issues like African slavery and his faith-based initiative, he has studiously avoided culture-war hot buttons that might upset moderates. He tried to split the difference on stem cells, struck a relatively moderate tone on gays, and has largely steered clear of talk about abortion. 

But, by keeping the culture war from flaring up, he has created an environment in which religious-right voting drives could have a hard time gaining traction. "Evangelicals are populists," says University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter. "They participate in politics when they feel embattled, when they feel like the culture is out to destroy the way of life they cherish. Right now, they don't feel that." But, he says, Dean could make them feel embattled. Indeed, he already has. In Vermont, when Dean signed the civil-unions bill in 2000, he became a target for social-conservative activists. Operation Rescue's Randall Terry and groups from as far away as Kansas made their way to Vermont so they could denounce Dean to his face. And that's not Dean's only vulnerability. Because he served on the Northern New England board of Planned Parenthood, he has become a favorite source of ire for anti-abortion groups, too. LifeNews.com warns that he may be the "most pro-abortion candidate." 

Far from tamping down this animosity, Dean appears to revel in it. Not content to take on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson by name--as John McCain did after the South Carolina primary--Dean went after the entire category of "fundamentalist preachers" at the California Democratic Convention. When talking about the social issues that matter most to evangelicals, he doesn't even make a pretense of respecting their side. Describing the debate over partial-birth abortion, he told naral Pro-Choice America last January that "this is an issue about nothing; it's an issue about extremism." On the subject of civil unions, he has lambasted his opponents for "unchristian" behavior. When I asked conservative activist Gary Bauer about Republican plans for exploiting such statements, he told me, "The Republican Party can write the direct mail in their sleep." A former Christian Coalition official concurs: "This is the opponent that Ralph [Reed] dreamed of. He will be a kid in the candy store." 

Dean's problem isn't just that he will bring GOP evangelicals to the polls but that he could also lose the evangelicals who have voted Democratic in recent elections. Polling done by the scholars John Green, Lyman Kellstedt, James Guth, and Corwin Smidt has broken down the white evangelical voting bloc into four groups--highly traditional, traditional, centrist, and modernist. While Republicans dominate the two traditionalist groups, they have basically split the centrist and modernist ones with the Democrats. And, while these more moderate evangelicals don't make up an overwhelming percentage of the electorate--only about 8 percent--they happen to be heavily concentrated in the Midwest. According to Kellstedt, these are voters Democrats often win with an economic agenda, but Dean might lose "on the basis of religious style points and strident rhetoric on [social issues]." And, in a close election, a few thousand votes squandered in Iowa and Illinois could ruin Dean. 

If the problem were only evangelicals, maybe Dean could survive. But, as the sociologist Alan Wolfe argues in his new book, The Transformation of American Religion, "There's also a sense in which we are all evangelicals now." By which he means all U.S. religions--from Catholicism to Islam--have adopted a style of worship that in important ways resembles evangelicalism, especially its emphasis on the "intimate and personal sides of faith." This shift to an evangelical mode of discourse has altered politics as well. Before Jimmy Carter came along, postwar politics had been largely devoid of religion, aside from John F. Kennedy's efforts to diffuse the controversy over his Catholicism. But Carter changed all that. Importing evangelical personal testimony, he felt free to describe his faith, right down to the lust "in my heart." Since his 1976 victory, presidential politics has been filled with such testimonials. Candidates' spiritual lives have literally become open books: The 200-page The Faith of George W. Bush by Stephen Mansfield can be found on the front table at your neighborhood Barnes & Noble. 

It's common for liberals to complain that Bush talks about religion too much. But few Americans agree. Recent polling by Pew shows that only 14 percent think Bush talks about his faith too much. The vast majority, 62 percent, like the way he deploys religion, and 11 percent think he doesn't invoke it enough. This is one reason there's little hope of Dean riding a secular backlash into the White House, but it is not the only one. Although the number of Americans who attend church less than once per year is growing, it is still at 30 percent, a decided minority. According to the pollster John Zogby, "Appealing to secular voters might help you win a Democratic primary--but that's it." The University of Akron's John Green, the pollster who has looked the hardest at the electoral implications of religion, argues that voters "are looking for signs that they can trust a candidate. One of the things that they are looking for, one of the things that makes sense to them, is religiosity. If they don't see it, they may have a hard time voting for a candidate." 

  Take, for example, Michael Dukakis, another secular New England governor who ran for president and one of the few recent candidates as secular as Dean. As his wife, Kitty, admitted in 1987, "None of us is very religious." Dukakis's opponent, George H.W. Bush, might not have been any more religious--at least not in a publicly expressive, evangelical way. But he had spent eight years watching as Ronald Reagan ended every speech with the phrase "God bless America" and stuffed religious imagery into every rhetorical corner. Bush could see the adoration such pronouncements brought from Christian conservatives. As he campaigned for president, he tried gamely to ape his boss. Speaking to ministers from Bob Jones University, he used the evangelical formulation "I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior." 

The 1988 campaign is remembered for Bush's attacks on Dukakis's patriotism and Massachusetts-liberal instincts. But, rereading Bush's fusillades, it becomes clear that these arguments had a unifying theme: Dukakis's godlessness. When Bush blasted Dukakis for making the Pledge of Allegiance optional, he was really talking about the phrase "one nation under God"--a phrase evangelicals cherished as one of the few permissible references to the deity in public school. When he derided Dukakis's membership in the American Civil Liberties Union (aclu), he tried to make a similar point about his opponent's embrace of secularity. "I don't think [the aclu] is right to try to take the tax exemption away from the Catholic Church," Bush bellowed in one debate. "I don't want to see 'under God' come out from our currency." The attacks worked wonders. As Garry Wills wrote in Under God: Religion and American Politics, "For many Americans, the coldly technological 'Massachusetts miracle' was not only godless but the enemy of God." This perception enabled Bush to run up amazing numbers among evangelicals--77 percent of their vote--en route to a 39-state general-election victory. 

Fortunately for the Democrats, there's a counterpoint to the Dukakis story. Four years after that disastrous campaign, Bill Clinton, also running against the elder Bush, made his faith a central part of his political persona. At the 1992 Democratic convention, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's biographical film showed Roger Clinton telling the camera, "Church-going was really important to the two of us. ... Even to this day, it's an extremely significant part of his life." In his acceptance speech, Bill Clinton described his program as a "new covenant" and quoted from Corinthians. Where Dukakis and Walter Mondale had resolutely avoided churches and other religious settings, Clinton and Al Gore sought them out. In an interview on the visn Christian cable network, he sat in a West Virginia church directly in front of the altar: "If I didn't believe in God, if I weren't, in my view, a Christian, if I didn't believe ultimately in the perfection of life after death, my life would have been much more difficult for me." 

Moreover, because Clinton hailed from the relatively conservative Baptist Church (as opposed to the liberal Congregationalists), he understood how to paper over differences with voters who disliked his positions on social issues, especially abortion. "With Clinton, evangelical voters no longer felt like they were locked in a battle against a secular Democratic Party," says the University of Virginia's Hunter. By the end of the campaign, Clinton and Gore seemed sincere enough that the Associated Baptist Press trumpeted them as "the first all-Baptist ticket for the nation's two highest offices." George H.W. Bush's share of the evangelical vote fell from 77 percent in 1988 to 56 percent in 1992. As a result, Clinton nearly swept the border states and made important inroads in the South. 

Indeed, a case can be made that the Democrats' recent presidential success with Southern candidates is only secondarily connected to their geographic roots. Candidates who grow up in the South come from a world steeped in Jesus. Even if they don't buy the theology themselves, they intuitively understand the role that faith plays in people's lives; they have absorbed enough of the lingo to plausibly pass for religious or at least avoid offending the faithful. 

Dean, on the other hand, utterly lacks this gift. In a CNN interview last week, Judy Woodruff asked him about his bike-path conversion. She seemed bemused over the story. "Was it just over a bike path that you left the Episcopal Church?" Dean told her, "Yes, as a matter of fact, it was." He explained how the diocese had resisted handing over the land for the trail. "One thing I feel about religion, you have to be very careful not to be a hypocrite if you're a religious person. It is really tough to preach one thing and do something else. And I don't think you can do that." As the discussion continued, Woodruff asked, "And you don't believe, governor, the Republicans are going to have a field day with comments like these?" Dean replied with unwitting clarity: "The Republicans always have a field day with things like this." Yes, they do.

Franklin Foer is an associate editor at TNR.



TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2004; christianity; dean; deanschristianity; howarddean; religion

1 posted on 12/23/2003 8:28:13 AM PST by deport
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To: deport

Mean, mean, Howard Dean.

2 posted on 12/23/2003 8:31:26 AM PST by isthisnickcool (Guns!)
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To: deport


"As Dean has described it in recent months, the dispute over the bike path caused him to break with the Episcopal Church and become a Congregationalist."


I almost left the Catholic church because the holy water was the wrong temperature.
3 posted on 12/23/2003 8:31:26 AM PST by Az Joe
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To: deport
Dean does believe...in bike trails
4 posted on 12/23/2003 8:35:07 AM PST by woofie
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To: deport
"I have never heard that before," says his brother James Dean.


5 posted on 12/23/2003 8:38:04 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: Az Joe
I almost left the Catholic church because the holy water was the wrong temperature.

Did they have a bike path?

6 posted on 12/23/2003 8:38:51 AM PST by Nonstatist
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To: deport
Can someone confirm - I read that Dean did his residency at Planned Parenthood - so this makes him the first Abortionaist Candidate - Please confirm - thanks!
7 posted on 12/23/2003 8:44:58 AM PST by csistrueblue
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To: deport
What a bizarre article.

"But, by keeping the culture war from flaring up, he has created an environment in which religious-right voting drives could have a hard time gaining traction. "Evangelicals are populists," says University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter. "They participate in politics when they feel embattled, when they feel like the culture is out to destroy the way of life they cherish. Right now, they don't feel that."

At which point the author goes on to completely disprove his own point. Maybe he realized that we would all read the part he just quoted and wonder if he was smoking crack? Just weird.

Qwinn
8 posted on 12/23/2003 8:47:04 AM PST by Qwinn
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To: csistrueblue
Here you go.

American Specator Aritcle

Dean's never answered the questions, he dodges them every time.
9 posted on 12/23/2003 8:56:16 AM PST by jmcclain19
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To: deport
Talk to sensible Howard Dean supporters these days, and they'll tell you that the former governor's campaign to date has been a grand sleight of hand.

IOW, according to the first sentence of this New Republic article, being a liar, is "sensible".

10 posted on 12/23/2003 9:00:25 AM PST by Dane
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To: deport
So, Dean would go to war over a bike path, but not to protect America's interests and national security? *giggle*
11 posted on 12/23/2003 9:01:03 AM PST by rabidralph (Merry Christmas to all.)
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To: rabidralph
With apologies to Kipling:

Screw you, Dean, Dean, Dean!
You're a syphilitic coward, Howard Dean.
Like the leftist scum that made you
And the pro-choice fiends that paid you,
You'll fry your balls in hellfire, Howard Dean!
12 posted on 12/23/2003 9:07:08 AM PST by Dionysius
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To: csistrueblue
Yes, Dead did intern at Planned Parenthood. He's a guy who spent more time in an abortion clinic than any other presidential candidate in history.

He does believe in something, after all.

13 posted on 12/23/2003 9:12:25 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)
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To: deport
Bush might be able to pound Dean like a drum. But it will still be a tragedy to have 6 months of hard core liberalisim promoted by the Democratic media and swallowed whole by the 30-40% hard core Democratic voters.

This campaign, even if Dean looses, could set the stage for a hard left turn in general public.

That is unless Bush beats them so bad, and gets a 60 seat majority in the Senate, that the Dems completly implode and go the way of the Whigs.

What will they call their new party?

14 posted on 12/23/2003 9:21:51 AM PST by narby (McGovern lost in 72 - and launched the left's takover of the Dem party)
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To: deport
That sound you hear is Karl Rove cackling.

An unbelievably important article. I am printing and saving it.

15 posted on 12/23/2003 9:22:46 AM PST by Dems_R_Losers (Except for the one who married me!!!)
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To: deport
"One thing I feel about religion, you have to be very careful not to be a hypocrite if you're a religious person.

Of course being a hypocrite is perfectly acceptable if one is a marxist or stalinist.

16 posted on 12/23/2003 9:27:01 AM PST by Paleo Conservative (Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.)
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To: deport
Centuries from now, Dean's conversion to Congregationalism will be remembered as one of the classic conversion stories, up there with St Paul's and Augustine of Hippo's.

I don't like the way the author sneaks in the insinuation that George W. Bush was an alcoholic...it's true that he used to party too hearty, but I haven't seen any evidence that he was an alcoholic.

17 posted on 12/23/2003 9:28:42 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: deport
Dean hasn't committed himself to many policy positions that can be portrayed as far left-

Wanting to reverse the tax cuts is far enough to the left for me...

18 posted on 12/23/2003 9:29:41 AM PST by trebb
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To: csistrueblue

Dean's experience with Planned Parenthood

Dean conducted his three-year residency at a teaching facility called the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (now called Fletcher Allen Hospital) in Burlington beginning in 1978. During this time, in 1978 or 1979, according to Barrie-Hope Silver, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Williston, Vt., Dean also served as an intern in an OB/GYN rotation at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Burlington. Silver was unable to pinpoint the exact date.

Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of the Vermont Right To Life Committee Inc., has researched Dean's involvement with Planned Parenthood and told CNSNews.com that Dean filled the non-mandated OB/GYN shift during his residency schedule despite the fact that it was not required for his degree as a doctor of internal medicine.

"The OB/GYN rotation is not required for [his degree]. He wanted to add that," Hahn Beerworth said.

CNSNews.com has also learned that Dean continued as a physician at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Burlington after his internship ended. Silver, the marketing director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE), said Dean "was employed as a contract physician for PPNNE, providing routine GYN care and medical consults."

Dean further served on the organization's board of trustees between 1980 and 1984 as well as on PPNNE's medical advisory committee. On his presidential campaign website, Dean declares that he is "proud to have served as a Board Member of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. [end excerpt]


19 posted on 12/23/2003 9:31:25 AM PST by deport
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To: isthisnickcool
Great picture. Just great!
20 posted on 12/23/2003 9:32:53 AM PST by Howlin (Bush has stolen two things which Democrats believe they own by right: the presidency & the future)
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To: Dane
Yes indeed. ... a "smart Liberal" is a leftist who pretends he is ont what he is. A "sincere leftist" is a leftist who admits his positions and loses elections.

I guess it's why I have more respect for a Nader than for a Clinton (Hillary or Bill) or a Howard Dean.
21 posted on 12/23/2003 9:33:36 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)
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To: deport
he will reveal his true self, elegantly pivoting to the middle

Yea, right, hahahhahahahhaha.... Nice try.

22 posted on 12/23/2003 9:35:48 AM PST by CommandoFrank (Peer into the depths of hell and there is the face of Islam!)
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To: deport; Explorer89
This article's description of Dean made me think of Jodie Foster's character in the movie _Contact_. Remember when her buddy blindsides her in the congressional hearing with the question about if she believes in God. The look on her face was priceless.

Fortunately for the Democrats, there's a counterpoint to the Dukakis story. Four years after that disastrous campaign, Bill Clinton, also running against the elder Bush, made his faith a central part of his political persona.

I predict Bill Clinton will be the first president to be canonized.

23 posted on 12/23/2003 9:44:54 AM PST by MrConfettiMan (Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?)
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To: All
I recently played golf with a 70 y.o. retired teacher, african american from Compton, Ca. I asked how Bush was doing. He said, "B+". He might be the first republican I vote for".
Well if dean is haveing a hard time getting this guy's vote, he is in more trouble than anybody can imagine.
24 posted on 12/23/2003 9:53:59 AM PST by genghis
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To: narby
Bush might be able to pound Dean like a drum. But it will still be a tragedy to have 6 months of hard core liberalisim promoted by the Democratic media and swallowed whole by the 30-40% hard core Democratic voters. This campaign, even if Dean looses, could set the stage for a hard left turn in general public. That is unless Bush beats them so bad, and gets a 60 seat majority in the Senate, that the Dems completly implode and go the way of the Whigs. What will they call their new party?

This is an excellent point. It's not so much that general opinion will be hard left, but the Democrat party will, and by the law of political gravity, it will pull our political center to the left... this is the opposite of how Goldwater's defeat helped build a conservative core in the Republican party.

The cure is for there to be a defeat not only of Dean, but of his IDEAS and all those associated with him. Then the party will have no power.

25 posted on 12/23/2003 9:56:03 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)
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To: CommandoFrank
Howard Dean's lack of religious committment is not a problem for a large number of people in this country. Most of them are nominal Democrats, and many of them got sick of Clinton using religion to mask his personal flaws. On the other hand, many people would be troubled by a candidate who looks like he's going to turn the White House into a church of his own faith.

The point here is this: I'm hoping that conservatives do not bash Bush for not embracing Christianity any more publically than he already does. The people he needs to get to vote for him, and for fellow Republicans next year, are far more comfortable with someone who has a religion, and doesn't spend every waking moment trying to impose it on others than they are with an overly pious candidate. Bush is walking the fine line quite well, he's sending more than adequate signals to his base that he's philosophically aligned with them, while not sending danger signals to people who see the inside of a church even less often than Howard Dean does.

The thing we should get from the article above is that we don't need to fight any harder on the religion issue, with Howard Dean as the Rat candidate, we've already won on that issue. There are plenty of other reasons to not vote for Dean besides the fact that he had a tiff with a mainline Protestant denomination over a bike path.

26 posted on 12/23/2003 9:56:49 AM PST by hunter112
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To: trebb
Indeed. Here is Dean's platform:

1. Massive Tax increases.
2. Handing over our foreign policy and soverienty to the UN.
3. Gay marriage and further cultural 'evolution'.

This is radical hard-left far extremist socialist leftism. His attacks on those who are publicly religious is aclear sign he is on the side of the militant secularists. It's the kind of stuff that Pat Buchanan railed against in 1992 and which the liberal media called 'scare-mongering' (the culture war - women in combat, gay marriage, euthanasia and pro-abortion/pro-death policies).
27 posted on 12/23/2003 10:03:18 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)
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To: deport
The most accurate vote predictor for the last election was whether the voter frequently attends religious services. Those who do are overwhelmingly Republcan. Those who rarely do are even more strongly Democrat.
28 posted on 12/23/2003 10:09:39 AM PST by colorado tanker ("There are but two parties now, Traitors and Patriots")
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To: colorado tanker
The most accurate vote predictor for the last election was whether the voter frequently attends religious services. Those who do are overwhelmingly Republcan.


I guess the real or next question is how many of those that 'frequently attends religious services' will go to the polls and vote come election day.... If we can determine that number then we know the results....

Any guesses
29 posted on 12/23/2003 10:18:44 AM PST by deport
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To: hunter112
"The point here is this: I'm hoping that conservatives do not bash Bush for not embracing Christianity any more publically than he already does. The people he needs to get to vote for him, and for fellow Republicans next year, are far more comfortable with someone who has a religion, and doesn't spend every waking moment trying to impose it on others than they are with an overly pious candidate."

Your verbiage sounds NYTimes-like ... that is a nice strawman you built up there, that religious people go around spending "every waking moment" - really, every waking moment? Not, say 1 hour of a day of hard evangelizing?

And the "trying to impose it on others", what activities might that be? The tired old lie that secularists shouldnt be inconvenienced by having to hear public prayer at ceremonies because they are in "danger" of being converted? If this is such a 'danger' you really arent secure in your beliefs, are you... The imposition I see these days are the secularists who are telling us we are deformed and mentally and morally deficient individuals if we dont conform to their moral vision of 'tolerance' for various forms of moral and cultural degeneration. Is that what you mean?

Of course people are more comfortable with people not telling them what to do, although that leaves the popularity of Hillary to be quite a mystery. But the fact is clear - it is the PC left and not the religious right who today are trying to use public policy to impose their views as "correct" and to make contrary views unlawful. Hence the insistence on denying free association to those who dont want to give equalt status to homosexuals.

"Bush is walking the fine line quite well, he's sending more than adequate signals to his base that he's philosophically aligned with them, while not sending danger signals to people who see the inside of a church even less often than Howard Dean does."

Signals, schmignals. What we need are good policies.

Like not letting our own culture decay further at the hands of the cultural marxists. Sometimes he does something good - like sign the Partial Birth abortion bill to save preborn humans from a brutal death; sometimes he lets the left win one, like when he let that odious Title IX rule stand, that is shutting down men's college sports and puts Federales in the busybody business in the name of feminist equality.

If anyone is "uncomfrotable" with those trying to keep the ship of civilization afloat, I suggest they jump overboard!


30 posted on 12/23/2003 10:23:41 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)
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To: deport
Journalistic rehabilitation at its worst. If this article is a portent of things to come, Dean might get the nomination after all. I'm on record predicting that he won't.
31 posted on 12/23/2003 10:27:26 AM PST by savedbygrace
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To: deport
The trend has been lower turnout by evangelicals, frustrated by the lack of progress on abortion in the post-Bork era. Rove said lack of turnout by evangelicals almost cost Bush the election in 2000. I think the last minute DUI hit may have had some effect on that.

I think turnout will be up in 2004 because Rove and Reed have been working hard on the issue - and because people will turn out to keep a militant secularist and abortionist out of the White House. Plus a lot of evangelicals will vote to keep someone in the White House who is willing to fight the islamist terrorists, which Dean will not do.

Just my two cents - a lot can happen in the next year.

32 posted on 12/23/2003 10:28:53 AM PST by colorado tanker ("There are but two parties now, Traitors and Patriots")
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To: deport
"My religion doesn't inform my public policy."

Oh, I think his religion has everything to do with his public policy, even though he doesn't realize it. A TRUE believer will want to obey a Holy God, and this will be reflected in ALL of his actions in life (all of life is spiritual). However, a person who has no understanding that Jesus Christ is Lord over ALL OF LIFE, will do whatever he wants with no regard to what pleases and doesn't please God.

It's quite evident that his public policy is not consistent with biblical Christianity as evidenced by his signing the Civil Unions bill in Vermont. Evidently, Mr. Dean doesn't much care that a Holy God condemns homosexuality. But this action is consistent with a man whose religion is secular and liberal. Worldview is everything, and it is evident from his actions that Mr. Dean's worldview is not orthodox Christian no matter what church he belongs to. Jesus Christ said we would know his followers by their fruit, and Dean's fruit is not the fruit of a man who truly loves Jesus Christ.

33 posted on 12/23/2003 10:36:24 AM PST by exmarine ( sic semper tyrannis)
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To: colorado tanker
Yes a lot can happen in the next eleven months but I think you have a good assessment of the situation at this juncture...
34 posted on 12/23/2003 10:46:07 AM PST by deport
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To: WOSG
Your verbiage sounds NYTimes-like ... that is a nice strawman you built up there, that religious people go around spending "every waking moment" - really, every waking moment? Not, say 1 hour of a day of hard evangelizing?

You know those people who, when you meet them, one of the first things you know about them is that they are gay? Well, there are people that make sure that within the first 60 seconds I meet them, that they are religious. I guess that's who I'm talking about. Everybody knows people who they suspect hangs out with others only so they can convert them. Sort of like the life insurance salesman who joins every civic organization in town to sell his fellow members a lousy investment.

And the "trying to impose it on others", what activities might that be?

I'm not saying that the fear is rational, but it is real. No, listening to "under God" in the Pledge of Allegience, or passing by a menorah or nativity scene in a public park in December is not going to threaten most people's sense of who they are spiritually. The point I'm trying to make is that the liberal media can frame most conservative political positions in terms of religious conservatism, and we need to fight that. Rather than making abortion an issue of human civil rights, we have allowed the media to make it an issue of religious intolerance. If you think that was a one-shot deal, then wait until you see the media coverage of the gay marriage issue in next year's election campaign.

Signals, schmignals. What we need are good policies.

And we don't get them by electing Democrats. We get them by having the mushy middle not being afraid to vote for a Republican, especially if they never have before in their lives. My wife's family is a good example, they believe in most all the issues that Republicans hold dear, yet every time Republicans are on the TV, they bash them. They don't connect the Rats they elect with the policies they hate. One part of it is the old saw that "Republicans are for the rich", and the other part is the religious thing. Few people in my wife's family are churchgoing, and they fear a theocracy. It may be an irrational fear, but its there.

If anyone is "uncomfrotable" with those trying to keep the ship of civilization afloat, I suggest they jump overboard!

If that means jumping off the ship and voting for an extremist third party candidate who is "100% right", then you'll have to swim without me. I'm going to try to trim the sails to tack closer towards the other shore. Let the liberals split their votes and lose, like they did with Nader in 2000.

35 posted on 12/23/2003 10:56:47 AM PST by hunter112
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To: WOSG
He's a guy who spent more time in an abortion clinic

I appreciate the info on Dean very much. I didn't know this about him. I'm not suprised, but at the same time, the term "abortion clinic" is a contradiction in terms. Clinics assist healing. Abortion, on the other hand, is deliberate killing. The two are mutually exclusive.

Cordially,

36 posted on 12/23/2003 11:47:37 AM PST by Diamond
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To: genghis
I recently played golf with a 70 y.o. retired teacher, african american from Compton, Ca. I asked how Bush was doing. He said, "B+". He might be the first republican I vote for". Well if dean is haveing a hard time getting this guy's vote, he is in more trouble than anybody can imagine.

I'm pleasantly surprised by the anecdote, but I do think almost all the religiously observant African-Americans who vote will cast their ballots for any Democrat over George Bush. Most of the older people at the predominately black church we attend have demonized Bush. They say his use of religious language just proves that he is the anti-Christ (kid you not).

37 posted on 12/23/2003 2:53:23 PM PST by madprof98
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To: deport
Just when I thought this guy couldn't get anymore revolting.
38 posted on 12/23/2003 2:56:50 PM PST by ladyinred (If all the world's a stage, I want to operate the trap door!)
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To: deport
Okay, lets be honest here. Raise your hand if you read the whole article above........Oh, you in the back, you're the only one.
39 posted on 12/23/2003 3:01:20 PM PST by fish hawk (John 11:35 "Jesus Wept")
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To: hunter112; WOSG
{Howard Dean's lack of religious commitment is not a problem for a large number of people in this country.}

It could be a problem for the African-Americans. Blacks attend church at higher rates than whites do. In general, they like to see their politicians pray and quote the Bible. They are also uneasy about secular politicians. No Democrat could win the White House without heavy turnout from minorities. The way for Democrats to generate heavy turnout would be to visit churches and build relationships with ministers in minority communities. Bill Clinton did these things as President, and this is why he is enormously popular with African-Americans. If Dean is uncomfortable attending with black churches, then he is not going to get the heavy minority turnout needed to win the Presidency next year.
40 posted on 12/24/2003 9:28:50 PM PST by Kuksool (Merry Christmas To All!)
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To: Dionysius
"With apologies to Kipling:

Screw you, Dean, Dean, Dean!
You're a syphilitic coward, Howard Dean.
Like the leftist scum that made you
And the pro-choice fiends that paid you,
You'll fry your balls in hellfire, Howard Dean!"

I like that adaptation better than if you had kept closer to Kipling's last line. It would be a bit awkward to say:

"...by the living God that made you, you're a better man than I am Howard Dean."

The line really just doesn't work too well.
41 posted on 12/24/2003 9:51:05 PM PST by edwin hubble
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To: Kuksool
It could be a problem for the African-Americans. Blacks attend church at higher rates than whites do.

I certainly hope you're right, but I feel it will take a lot more than religiousity to make a difference to most blacks, even the churchgoing ones. They've had a habit of voting Rat no matter how bad the Rat candidate in question, it might be difficult to break.

We've all known here that the Republicans offer the better deal in the form of opportunity through economic strength and school choice to blacks, but our party is tagged with the racist label, and it may be tough to shake. It might make a difference if Bill Clinton's support of Dean upon getting the nomination is viewed as less than enthusiastic.

42 posted on 12/25/2003 6:32:36 PM PST by hunter112
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