WP on Dean Revisited

Hey, I think I was too quick to judge the Dean on Religion article in the Washington Post. I felt that the reporter, Jim VandeHei, was soft on Dean and failed to analyze or even characterize the veracity of the doctor’s statements on religion. Having re-read the article, I have a new perspective. (Hey, I’ve been celebrating the holidays, and the mind isn’t quite up to full speed.)

VandeHei has done a hatchet job to Dean. The reporter didn’t have to include Dean’s misplacement of the Book of Job. Nor did he have to state, without color or comment, Dean’s church change over a bike path. Nor did he have to put Dean’s statements on religion in the context of Southern strategy. More examples of VendeHei’s subtle inclusion of more information than Dean’s handlers might have wished are available in the article. My favorite paragraph:

A few minutes later, when discussing corporate greed, Dean promised if elected president to call business leaders from around the country into the White House to stress ethics and responsibility. “Moral tone is a huge deal in the presidency,” he told the audience [emphasis mine].

Reading Dean’s quote, “Moral tone is a huge deal,” elicits pity for the speaker. The sentence is utterly sophomoric, like Holden Caulfield’s paper on the ancient Egyptians. Could anything embarrass Dean more than forcing him to read his own thoughts on moral tone aloud? “Moral tone is a huge deal!” Indeed.

If my reassessment of the writer’s motive is correct, then I owe Jim VandeHei an apology. This subtle, understated article may harm Dean more than all the vicious attacks combined. The article makes Dr. Dean look bad without the author saying so.