The International Writers Magazine
Howard Dean should Learn from J.Lo Really
What do J.Lo, aka Jenny from the Block, and Howard Dean, aka Dr.
Dean, have in common?
*News: Wednesday 14th - Dean wins the
nonbiding District Of Columbia primary with 43 percent of the vote
- Al Sharpton second with 34 percent
far as publicity is concerned, more than you might think. Do you remember
when J.Lo was everywhere? Well, guess whos everywhere now? Dr.
Dean. By making himself available to answer questions from reporters,
rally-goers, web-bloggers and anyone else who cares to ask, hes
said too much and in doing so hes hurt his bid for the White House.
Deans time on the record is phenomenal. Hes been in so many
places, tried to speak so honestly when hes been there, that hes
made promises he cant keep. Hes gotten angry and hes
said things he shouldnt have. Hes said things he didnt
mean. And hes meant things he hasnt said. Hes over-exposed
himself and its time to cut back.
Back in 1999, to the public eye, J.Lo was really just Puff Daddys
girlfriend. (And Puff Daddy was just Puff Daddy
.) Well, J.Lo realized
that if you gave her a little she could take a lot. So, she broke up
with Puff, got some press for not carrying a handgun. Married Chris
Judd, came out with an album, a movie, a clothing line, a perfume and
bam!, Jennys running the world.
And then, along come Ben Affleck and bennifer-gate. A seemingly good
idea, another movie, a perfect match, but no, it doesnt work.
Because the gilt wore off, the crowd got tired and, just like that the
Midas touch was gone. People got sick of her, and Jenny stopped being
the latest thing and started becoming yesterdays news. As opposed
to being the over-achiever, the one that surpassed everyone with her
intelligence, capability and under-dog status, she became just another
player on the great media stage.
The same fate is threatening to befall Howard Dean. A surprise grass
roots upstart among a crowd of Washington insiders, Dean did like Jenny,
took a little, and made a lot. As his campaign manager, Joe Trippi,
summed it up, we got where we are "because most of the field underestimated
Well, they arent doing that anymore. Dean is now the front-runner
for the Democratic nomination and hes everywhere. Hes on
the cover of Newsweek and Time this week, the second time hes
managed to grace the covers simultaneously. Hes gone from being
the guy that no one knows about to being the guy that everyone knows
about. And now were getting bored of him.
Need proof? Just look at Deans polling numbers as of late. His
support for the nomination has slid from a high of 31% on December 14th
to 24% this past week according to CNN/USA Today figures. Ok, at least
hes still leading. But. When you realize that his edge on Wesley
Clark has slipped from 21% the week of the 14th to 4% this past week,
the scene becomes a bit more precarious. Especially when you figure
that the polls registered margin of error is 5%. Give or take
a little and Clark might just be leading.
So, what happened to Dean?
The same thing that happened to J.Lo: everyone saw one too many shots
of her dressed in sweatpants with her thong sticking out and decided
that maybe she wasnt that great after all. Her star-wattage
wore off. The commentary on her life was so detailed, her existence
so ubiquitous, the America suffered, as implausible as it seems, from
over-satiation. We were so inundated with her, that she ceased to hold
our interest and the story shifted from what she was doing right to
what she was doing wrong.
Dean, on a political level, is doing the same thing. He has said so
much, a lot of it in a refreshingly off-the-cuff manner, that he has
said an inordinate number of things he shouldnt have. His critics
have realized this and are seizing upon it. Now central to the anti-Dean
rhetoric is a laundry list of his gaffes and discrepancies.
Dean is now being held accountable for everything he has said and done
during the campaign, and he has said too much. Just like J.Lo, Deans
over exposure is causing his star to fade. Hes running the risk
off becoming too ubiquitous to be interesting.
Its true. After an implausible grass roots start, Dean is becoming
the up-and-comer everyones bored with. We know his story. Weve
heard him rant. Were well acquainted with his visage. And we certainly
know he doesnt like George Bush.
None of this is in the least insignificant. It just leaves us wondering,
"Who is this Wesley Clark?" Or, in Hollywood terms, "Is
Gwyneth having a boy or a girl?"
Are we moving on? Have we finally decided that weve seen and heard
too much of Dr. Dean? Are we shifting our focus to the unknown? Perhaps,
and the mystical Wesley Clark may well be that unknown. A late starter
who has kept fairly quiet until now, his campaign is the antithesis
of Deans and its taking off.
Howard Dean needs to realize this and scale back. And keep his chin
up. Remember, Gwyneth suffered from over-exposure once too.
© Kate Morrison Jan 7th 2004
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