When the Howard Dean Camp Attacks When the Howard Dean Camp Attacks

By: Rachel Marsden

If only members of the Howard Dean camp would direct as much anger and hatred toward despotic dictators like Saddam Hussein as they do toward anyone who dares to point out the cold, hard facts about their man.

Over the past week, I've been inundated with hate mail from Dean supporters, as a result of my column entitled, "The Howard Dean Implosion."

I enjoyed reading the many e-mail messages from those Dean supporters in the 50-65 age bracket, usually describing themselves and "grandmas" or "grandpas," whose sole purpose for writing was to insist that they are not "pot-smoking hippies."

Well, there's a set of islands close to where I grew up in Vancouver, Canada, called the Gulf Islands. They were heavily populated with hippies and draft-dodgers during the '60s and '70s.

Nowadays, when one is waiting in the ferry lineup to return home after visiting one of these islands, it's amazing how all the "hippie residents" -- aged approximately from 50-65 years -- have put away the bell-bottom pants, cut off the long hair and now happen to be driving BMWs and sporting neat, smart-looking attire. These folks seem to have the same problem as my cat when he looks in the mirror and sees his reflection but still fails to recognize himself.

One thing Dean fans seem to have a real difficulty with is numbers -- and in particular, with my assertion that education-related spending has increased by 65 percent under Bush.

One writer confidently stated that "with such a conveniently round figure of 65 percent, you MUST have made it up!"

Now that strikes me as perfect liberal logic: round figures always equal trouble. Except that the figure I cited has appeared in many other places -- including the conservative and spend-a-phobic Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1703, written by Brian M. Riedl -- and is based on data provided by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office.

Under George W. Bush, education spending increased from $35.2 billion to $57.9 billion from 2001 to 2003. The Heritage report specifies that "nearly $11 billion of this increase occurred in elementary and secondary education, a result of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act as well as added special education funding. College student financial assistance accounted for much of the remaining increase."

There are those who will forever remain blindly convinced that Bush is all about 'big business" and who find it impossible to accept that over half of his new spending since 2001 is completely unrelated to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, defense or the war in Iraq.

While Dean supporters are busy attacking columnists and bloggers, their candidate is tooling about the country doing more flip-flops than an Olympic gymnast. Eventually, all that bending, spinning and flipping is bound to result in a serious case of dizziness.

Dean initially said he would not pre-judge bin Laden, and would prefer that a trial determine his guilt should he ever be captured. Seemingly unable to resist either a good schizophrenic impulse or the taste of his own foot however, Dean said in a recent Newsweek interview that "we ought to off Osama" if we have a chance to capture him.

Dean's vision of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's trial is apparently some kind of a cross between the movie "Weekend at Bernie's" and "Perry Mason." Note to Howard Dean: It's tough to give a dead guy the "due process" to which you feel so strongly that he's entitled.

To argue -- like Dean did in a Newsweek interview -- that the world is worse off now that George W. Bush has taken out former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is patently absurd. Saddam had biological and chemical weapons: he used them against his own people and in the war with Iran.

It wasn't even a partisan issue. Both Democrats and Republicans of the House and the Senate -- as well as intelligence services of major countries worldwide -- overwhelmingly acknowledged the notion. Where the weapons have all ended up has yet to be determined, even though U.S. Central Command is reporting almost daily discoveries of serious weapons caches -- including surface-to-air shoulder-fired missiles -- in the homes of Iraqi citizens.

Since 9/11, George Bush has taken confident, bold, decisive action to make the world into what he envisions to be a safer place. As Howard Dean admits, he would have rather stuck with the status quo and not bothered. Then again, this is also the same guy who has openly admitted to a lack of foreign policy experience and the need to "plug that hole in my resume" with his vice presidential pick.

From all the hate mail I've received, it would appear as though the Dean camp is all about "hole plugging" and damage control. Perhaps they could start with Dean himself. Then they may wish to get cracking on the Jesus stuff, and plugging that big crater of a hole. After Dean's comments about walking away from his church when he disagreed with his parish's position on bike-paths, it looks as though he has some of his own backpedaling to do. May I suggest dressing the candidate in one of those ultra-hip "Jesus is my Homeboy" T-shirts that are all the rage with the kids nowadays?