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Just Who is Howard Dean?

Ex-Vermont Governor, Presidential Hopeful
Arrested as "Enemy Combatant"


Campaign 2004

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Washington- The questions flew around Attorney General John Ashcroft's late-night press conference like students at a terrorist flight school. Not a single member of the press was interested in where speculation would take off or where the answers would land.

Political experts say arresting a former governor of a tiny US state as an "enemy combatant," could be seen as a political move by the Bush administration, especially when the governor is a mostly unknown candidate for the White House in 2004.

"Could you define the term enemy combatant one more time - especially in terms of US citizens"?

"Is Vermont still in the United States?"

"Who is Howard Dean?"

The latter question stunned even the faith-based rigor within the spirit of the nation's top law enforcement officer. After 16 months of crawling into the underbelly of sickening terrorist organizations, after crusading for the rights of Christians within federal office buildings, after pouncing on little old ladies carrying sewing needles through airport security, after using every coping skill he had acquired in the US Senate, John Ashcroft had never experienced someone as despicable, frightening and powerful as Howard Dean.

Here was a man who had started out from a good American home. His father had achieved the noble role of pit boss in a Wall Street brokerage house and he had encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps. But the son moved even higher, to the field of medicine, advancing to the rank of physician and the right to ask himself about pills from purple to pink. Country Clubs and GOP fund raisers flung open their doors to him, even after he married a woman representing a minority.

Having a physician for a wife could be tolerated, Ashcroft thought. But compassionate conservatism could only go so far. Not only did Dean turn out to be a Democrat,

Dean committed an act of treason to his physician roots. He not only announced that he supported universal health coverage, he made sure that in Vermont, at least, no child was left behind in the emergency room.

he turned out to be a traitor to everything that doctors found holy. Barely out of the influence of Wall Street, Dean emigrated to the People's Republicof Vermont to learn the ways of socialists. It wasn't long before he was "liberating" the workers in a Vermont hospital on behalf of local unions, and spending his evenings listening to the music of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

Eventually the socialist music began to influence his outlook. Being a part-time legislator in a state like Vermont where they still believe a tree is worthier than a Wal-Mart, could turn Ronald Reagan into an environmentalist. But then, as he became governor, Dean committed an act of treason to his physician roots. He not only announced that he supported universal health coverage, he made sure that in Vermont, at least, no child was left behind in the emergency room. "Physician heal thyself, before you fail your hypocrite oath, "the President had remarked to Ashcroft in their discussions prior to Dean's arrest.

Dean didn't heal. Instead, he perpetrated an act that not even Vermont socialists could uphold, Ashcroft believed. Up until now, Dean had always been a straight shooter. Now, he was advancing gay rights. " You can always compromise when you are fighting over money, but there can never be a compromise when it comes to human rights," Dean's statement had shocked an America rich in the "family values" indicated by the GOP Southern Strategy."

Not since Harry Truman integrated the US military or Lyndon Johnson ripped out the "colored only" water fountains from his native Texas had there been a violation of the good Republican cloth coat that warms America. Ashcroft had tried to understand the needs of homosexuals to bind together - Vermont winters were much colder than Missouri's, after all - but the idea that people of the same sex could share a picket fence and a golden retriever was just too much.

Next, the Justice Department would be called upon to hire non-Christians.

When Dean stepped down from more than a decade of leading Green Mountain boys heretofore living in sin, there was joy in GOP Mudville from Montpelier to Peyton Place. But when the former governor voiced a thought that America should be more like Vermont, the concern began to build faster than the Dean momentum to the 2004 Democratic convention.
"This is a true enemy combatant," Ashcroft told the gathered press. "He has made a mockery of the whole Lott of what the GOP stands for."

Despite the efforts of many right-wing GOP pundits who expressed doubts that Dean would gather enough steam to win the battle for even Vermont's solitary Democratic delegates, Ashcroft said he had to make an example of the governor.

"Even he has pointed out that the rest of the field remains afraid to attack this administration," Ashcroft said. "By arresting him and keeping him away from lawyers and constitutional rights until say, January 21, 2005, we send a message."


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