Howard Dean arrived in my hometown of Nashville today for a two-day visit. Republicans here made a radio ad just for his visit, replaying the scream and alerting Tennesseeans that there's a "Northeastern Liberal in Tennessee."
Dean spoke in a news conference and asserted that Democrats can win in the South and will put up a fight here from now on. He railed at Republicans' fiscal irresponsibility, and then quipped in a fairly pusilanimous voice, "If that's what makes me a Northeastern liberal, then maybe we ought to have a Northeastern liberal in charge of this country."
This is what I love about Howard Dean. To be sure, that comment will piss off a few Southern voters who catch it. But I actually think Dean knows what he's doing here, and even if he doesn't, I think it's good. That welcoming ad by local Republicans plays on lingering Civil War indignation held by a minority of the population, and it also plays on the image a lot of Southerners have of Northeastern liberals as effete. I think Howard Dean's combative fire will not only inspire Democrats but also earn some respect in the South.
Dean will conduct a Town Hall Meeting at Tennessee State University tomorrow (Wednesday) from 11:30 am to 1:30pm, I might try to make it though it's early for me for spring break.