Dean's "MTP" reviews are in

Howard Dean talked tough on Sunday's "Meet the Press"

Published May 23, 2005 2:46PM (EDT)

Sometimes you get the feeling no matter what DNC chairman Howard Dean says, the press, eager for a Dean-said-what? angle, is going to find a way to turn it into news. For instance, during his Sunday, hour-long interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Dean discussed a wide range of political issues and specifically refused to back down on some of his recent attacks on Republican House majority leader Tom DeLay, Rush Limbaugh or the Bush administration. So the storyline about Dean and "Meet the Press" became he was defiant and feisty. (Of course, if Dean had backtracked a bit, the story would have been about how Dean flip flops, setting off all kinds of press speculation that he was being muzzled by nervous Dems.)

Reviewing Dean's performance, today's New York Times played up the fact that he "offered a blistering review of the Republican Party - "I hate what the Republicans are doing to this country, I really do," he said - and used Mr. DeLay as an example of the "abuse of power" that he said now permeated Washington. "This gentleman is not an ethical person, and he ought not to be leading Congress, period," Dr. Dean said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "And it is endemic of what happens in Congress when one party controls everything.""

The Times also seemed to warn readers that Dean just isn't very gentlemanly: "Reinforcing an impression suggested by his often freewheeling remarks on a 100-day nationwide tour he made when he started the job, Dr. Dean left little doubt on Sunday that he is a different party leader than his predecessors or his counterpart in the Republican Party, Ken Mehlman."

Meanwhile, the Washington Times made a big deal that Dean wouldn't retract his recent mocking imitation of right-wing talk show host Limbaugh, who became addicted to pain killers. The paper reported, "Mr. Dean last month did an impression of Mr. Limbaugh for a gathering of Democrats in Minnesota that included the sound of someone snorting cocaine. Mr. Limbaugh became addicted to the painkiller OxyContin while dealing with years of chronic back pain, but entered a rehabilitation center last year and says he is now drug-free.

Mr. Dean, a doctor, was unapologetic about his parody, even when "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked whether it is "appropriate for a physician to mock somebody who has gone into therapy and the abuse for drug addiction?""

War Room's favorite "MTP" line from Dean: "I don't think it's appropriate for Tom DeLay to be in Congress, Tim. I really don't."

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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