Friday, January 23, 2004

The Yawp and Its Aftermath

TAPPED is the blog for The American Prospect magazine.

DEAN’S BARBARIC YAWP. It’s been played on all the cable shows and already has been re-mixed into a techno tune, but one thing about Howard Dean’s full-throated cry during his concession/fight speech that hasn’t been much discussed was that it was really loud in there at the Val Air Ballroom when he made his speech, which is something the TV mics — and hence film footage — did not pick up.

So it’s worth noting for the historical record that I — and others — could scarcely hear what Dean was saying on the stage from the press section in the back of the room because several thousand Deaniacs were making so much noise (Dean wasn’t the only one screaming) and the acoustics in the room weren’t very good. From inside the room, it seemed that he was feeding off the energy of a crowd that was cheering him on, and that they got louder and louder in concert with each other. Anyway, none of that will matter in the end. Richard Nixon was sick during his 1960 debate with John F. Kennedy, too, but there are no excuses in politics.

Still, when the final story of the Dean campaign is written, the difference between what was going on inside that room and what it looked like on television will make an instructive chapter.

–Garance Franke-Ruta

Basically it boils down to “you had to be there.” I think Dean’s appearance on Letterman will probably help, as will his emulation of the Clintons on 60 Minutes by appearing with his wife last night on Primetime Live with Diane Sawyer on ABC. (By the way, how many of you remember that Ms. Sawyer was an aide in the Nixon White House?) But the press, regardless of their agenda, loves the unscripted and will milk the moment for as long as possible. The man, after all, was caught being human.