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The Indefinite Article.

Friday, January 23, 2004

The Dean Scream Reloaded

I agree that Dean's speech after the Iowa Caucus was intended to rally his supporters rather than to re-iterate his platform. In that sense it was clearly campaign focused. But I think this focus is understandable given the sense of deflation that his campaign must have felt after finishing so poorly in a contest that they were so hyped to win.

In contrast, Kerry and Edwards did not need to 'rally the troops' in their speeches because: A) Kerry came in first place, and B) Edwards came in second place (when most people didn't expect him to make the top four). Both candidates had the luxury of focusing on the issues because both campaigns were, naturally, very pleased with the results of the caucus and did not need any 'rallying'.

I too found Dean's speech clumsy and the 'scream' bizarre, but it [the scream] does make more sense in light of what Dave Winer wrote in the Scripting News: 1/23/2004:

Several times during the meeting a loud crazy-sounding scream came from the room, everyone was doing it, and it was really frightening. The stuff of nightmares. This was before Howard Dean's rant. I asked Jim Moore what that was about, he said it's an Indian war yell or something like that, they used to do it in United Farm Workers rallies, and they adopted it at Dean For America. A few minutes later Dean let out the famous scream, it was the same scream I heard in the conference room.

They're probably not saying this publicly because it wouldn't seem contrite to do it, and they probably know they'd get roasted for saying the scream and ranting you heard was part of the motivational culture at DFA. Some have compared the Dean speech to a similar rant by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that made the rounds of the Net. So Dean gets a bit whacky, but after seeing it so many times, the shock value is fading. Taken at face value it wasn't anger, it was a steam-letting, and an attempt to rally the troops, and totally understandable.

Here Whiner explains that The Scream was "part of the motivational culture at DFA".

Now, I too had seen the Scream about a zillion times and was quite put off by it. I too saw it as an outburst worthy of the World Wrestling Federation. But had I seen coverage of The Scream along with the explanation that it was not a wild outburst, but rather a cheer that the Dean Campaign had adopted, I would not have concluded that Dean was an unstable, undignified Rowdy Roddy Piper. But now its too late.


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