MONTPELIER, Vt. – Howard Dean (search), a politician who has made much over the years of his experience as a doctor, has written a new book offering a blunt diagnosis of what ails the Democratic Party and the news media, as well as a prescription for a cure.
In Dean's "You Have The Power," centrist Democrats get much of the blame for allowing right-wing Republicans to rise to national power. Dean also complains that reporters and editors give too much attention to campaign strategy and not enough to the issues.
The 188-page book, published by Simon & Schuster, is due to be released Sept. 27. The Associated Press obtained a copy at a prerelease book-signing in Seattle.
Dean, who co-wrote the book with writer Judith Warner, hits many of the same themes that became familiar in his failed Democratic presidential campaign.
Although there is little introspection, the former Vermont governor does offer some insights into what he went through as he segued from the one-time Democratic front-runner with an unrivaled campaign war chest to an also-ran.
He describes in one passage the lowest point of the campaign, one he called "a real crisis of faith."
He writes that he learned shortly before the Wisconsin primary that some of his Democratic rivals had created a political action committee with $1 million to attack him before the leadoff Iowa caucuses. He said he found out that former Sen. Robert Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat who resigned during a campaign finance scandal, had provided $50,000.
Dean describes a middle-of-the-night cell-phone conversation in which Dean questioned why he was a Democrat.
The conversation was with Al Gore (search), who had endorsed Dean months before. It helped calm him, Dean writes, when the former vice president helped him deal with his anger and concentrate on getting out of the race after Wisconsin.
Dean describes how close he felt he had been to winning the nomination and then the devastation of losing it in a matter of weeks. Only Gore could help him regain perspective, Dean says, because of Gore's experiences in the extended recount of the Florida vote in 2000.
In another passage, Dean describes how his campaign learned that former President Clinton was calling Democrats encouraging them to switch allegiances in the months before the Iowa caucuses to retired Gen. Wesley Clark.
Dean recounts that one of the people Clinton called was a Dean supporter who described how the former president said that Dean "had forfeited his right to run for president." That was because, Dean writes, he had signed a law creating civil unions for gay and lesbian couples and Clinton believed Dean couldn't be elected as a result.
Those anecdotes, though, are the exception in the book. Dean spends much more time detailing how he believes the Democratic Party lost its way and spent too much time unsuccessfully trying to emulate Clinton when no one had the same political skills as the former president.
It led Democrats to abandon their core values and constituencies and handed Republicans control of the White House and Congress, he writes. His solution is to reconnect with the grass roots and return the party its mission as the representative of working people.
The media are culpable in the Republican rise, Dean argues, because they trivialize and sensationalize without holding Washington politicians to their word.
The solution for the media, he writes, is to use federal policies to discourage large corporations from owning multiple newspapers and broadcast stations and to reinstate limits on media ownership in individual markets. In the meantime, he says, politicians and voters should rely on local news, which he contends is more reliable than the national media.