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Howard Dean's Racist Hatefest By: Deborah Orin
New York Post | Wednesday, December 17, 2003


You won't be seeing any video of Howard Dean's x-rated, epithet-ridden New York fund-raiser because Team Dean made sure to bar the TV cameras. Which suggests they expected trouble.

Maybe it was the same foresight that inspired Dean to seal his records as Vermont governor for 10 years because of worries, as he put it in a moment of candor to Vermont public radio, about "future political considerations. We didn't want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time in any future endeavor."

So there were no TV cameras last Monday night when pro-Dean comics took the stage on West 18th St. in Chelsea at a $250-a-head Dean fund-raiser (reduced from $500) and competed to see how often they could use the F-word in the same sentence.

Comic Judy Gold dissed President Bush as "this piece of living, breathing s---" and Janeane Garofalo ridiculed the Medicare prescription-drug bill that Bush had just signed as the "you can go f--- yourself, Grandma" bill.

Just a few days before, rival John Kerry had used the F-word to attack Bush in Rolling Stone magazine in an apparent bid to sound hip, but Dean's event was "enough to make John Kerry blush," as rival Dick Gephardt's spokesman Erik Smith tartly put it.

And the Dean event got a lot worse. Comedian David Cross used the N-word for blacks in a disjointed "joke" apparently based on the premise that it's fine for a pro-Dean comic to use racial epithets as long as the goal is to claim Republicans are racists.

Comic Kate Clinton evoked Michael Jackson (hit with new child-sex-abuse charges) and said: "Frankly, I'm far more frightened of Condoleezza Rice" - the Bush national security adviser who has nothing in common with Jackson except being black.

Rice seems to drive liberal woman comics especially nuts. Sandra Bernhard insulted her in racial terms with a "Yes Massa" accent at another Dean fundraiser the same night. Perhaps the pro-Dean comics find it unbearable that the most powerful black woman in U.S. history, close friend to the president and his wife - and a brilliant classical pianist to boot - dares to be a Republican.

Actually, there was something to offend everyone. Dean rival Joe Lieberman got ridiculed for being unable to campaign on Jewish holidays because he's Orthodox. Vice President Dick Cheney was accused of talking "like Mary Jo Buttafuoco."

Cheney's wife Lynne was called "Lon Chaney" - the long-ago movie star who specialized in playing ghouls in horror films. And Cheney's daughter Mary, who is gay, was called "a big lezzie."

Even the apolitical "jokes" were ugly - like a suggestion that it's bizarre to see an Asian baby with Asian parents because so many Asian babies are adopted by whites.

As all this hate was getting spewed out, Dean sat backstage listening. Aides say he was fuming, so livid that he almost refused to come out to talk to the crowd. When he did, he began by saying some of the language was "wrong" and "I just don't have much tolerance for ethnic humor." But he didn't refer to all the X-rated anti-Bush and anti-Cheney attacks.

More to the point, he did nothing to stop the hate session. It was, after all, Dean's fund-raiser. He had the power (to use Dean's favorite phrase) to come right out on stage and say the "jokes" were unacceptable and he wanted it stoblasted rapper Sister Souljah for anti-white words "filled with hatred."

If there had been TV cameras, it could have been really bad news for Dean. As it was, he got off pretty lightly. The Post reported the story and the Times ran a teensy-weensy account buried on page B-6 of the Metro section.

Republicans are fuming. They say that if anything like this had happened at an event where a top Republican was present and did nothing to stop it, the media would rage about it for weeks.

"It's disgraceful. It's like an Upper West Side Manhattan left-wing Ku Klux Klan mentality," said Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.). "If some Southern redneck talked like this about a liberal, everyone would denounce it. But because it's Upper West Side humor, somehow it's supposed to be chic."


Deborah Orin is The New York Post's Washington Bureau Chief.


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