It seems the Republican marching orders have gone out: Say "Howard Dean" and "pessimism" or "pessimist" as many times as possible in the same sentence.
Of course, there really is no vast right-wing conspiracy to coordinate media messages, so we won't be seeing that focus-group-tested term repeated over and over by supposedly independent journalists and pundits. No, that would never happen.
When Up is Down, and Hope is Pessimism
The first appearance of a talking head referring to Dean as "pessimistic" or discussing his "pessimism" was Laura Ingraham on the Friday Dec. 19 Hardball, followed by Mary Matalin on the Sunday Dec. 21 Meet the Press.
Look for it to be coming out of every Republican's mouth soon, and then it will increasingly creep into "objective" reporting. The process will go something like this. First, they'll quote Bush campaign sources describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll move onto Democratic campaign sources, often anonymous, describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll stop bothering getting the quote and just write things like, "Some have criticized Dean for his unappealing pessimism..." And, then, finally, process complete, campaign analysis pieces in print and the "objective journalists" on the roundtable shows, will just write/say things like "Dean's pessimistic rhetoric..." By the end no discussion or news story about Dean will see the light of day without the word "pessimism."
So a basic primer is due: there is nothing more optimistic than saying that the American people have the right and the responsibility of self-government. There is nothing more optimistic than running a campaign that is designed to bring people back into the political process. And there is nothing more optimistic than asserting that the American people, armed with the founding principles of our Republic, will prevail over the special interests that write our laws in the current administration.
And there's absolutely nothing more optimistic than believing that once the American people take control of their own government, we will be able to bring health care to everyone, jobs based on a new energy economy to those who are out of work, and effective environmental protection for our children and grandchildren.
This is the most optimistic presidential campaign in a generation. For Karl Rove and George Bush to say that believing in people is pessimistic-- well, that's a bit like calling the gutting of pollution controls Clear Skies, isn't it?