Dean and Cheney Exchange Barbs

Dean Answers Cheney’s Barb About Mother (AP)

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, responding to criticism from the vice president, said he doesn’t “care if Dick Cheney likes my mother or not.”

The vice president said in a recent interview that Dean was not the type of person to lead a political party and mentioned the chairman’s mother. “I’ve never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I’ve never met anybody who does. He’s never won anything, as best I can tell,” Cheney said in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.”

Dean was elected governor of Vermont five times between 1992 and 2000. He ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination but closed down his campaign after stumbling in the early primaries.

Dean has recently described the GOP as “pretty much a white, Christian party” and said many Republicans have “never made an honest living.” Republican leaders have called on him to apologize, and even some Democrats have distanced themselves from his remarks.

While his (presumably joking) remarks were rather silly, it’s rather clear that Cheney didn’t say anything bad about Dean’s mother but rather about Dean himself. And, presumably, Cheney realizes that Dean was elected governor of Vermont, hence the title “Governor Dean.”

That said, while both men’s comments are insipid, Cheney’s will hurt him more. Frankly, a large part of Dean’s appeal is that he’s a loose cannon. Cheney’s appeal is that he’s a steady hand on the til. Comments like this and his autoerotic comment to Patrick Leahy (also here and here) don’t exactly bolster than.

Greg Saunders demonstrates how this will play with Dean supporters:

People who love Howard Dean aren’t the money-grubbing pieces of s— who would spend $10,000 a plate for a “seat at the table”. That’s your constituency.

Thus, presumably, explaining the two straight wins for the Bush-Cheney ticket. In a nation of millionaires, the party representing the little guy just doesn’t have a chance.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Dean has recently described the GOP as “pretty much a white, Christian party” and said many Republicans have “never made an honest living.”

    Um, these are true statements, aren’t they? Of course, “many” Dems have never made honest livings either, so that part is trivial.

  2. Pug says:

    Ooooh, those mean Democrats. They aren’t nice like Republicans.

    “…who who can ever understand i jerk like Dean?”


  3. McGehee says:

    I’ve often wondered how Thunderbird jerks.


  4. bryan says:

    That said, while both men’s comments are insipid, Cheney’s will hurt him more.

    Given the fact that Cheney’s pretty much on his last term in office, has a sizable fortune, and could give a rip less, I don’t see how the comments will hurt him more. He’s not in danger of losing the vice presidency.

  5. mike k. says:

    It’s nice to see our leaders having constructive exchanges while the mess in Iraq drags on, illegals stream across the borders, and the budget is out of control. It would be nice if both of them acted like adults. Then again maybe no action by our elected officials is a good thing…

  6. Just Me says:

    I don’t see this doing anything to really hurt Cheney. It can maybe be used to call the GOP big meanies by the other side, but honestly it just sounds to me like Cheney has a sharp sense of humor (I imagine he and Bob Dole could share a few laughs together).

    The problem with a sarcastic sense of humor, is that the jokes don’t always go over well, and that appears to be Cheney’s big problem.

    Dean just doesn’t seem to be able to keep his foot out of his mouth-one screw up can be passed off, two you think he would learn, but Dean just can’t seem to avoid shoving his foot into his outh when he gives a speech.

  7. oscar says:

    when i hear governor’s dean statement, i said he is a man with guts. that is excatly what the republican party is.if you don’t belive it look at fox news.

  8. tom smith says:

    thank goodness these two men are running for village idiot instead of president of the united states.

  9. Mona Freeman says:

    I really have to laugh at the obsurdity. The Republicans can say whatever they want… and get away with it….. but someone, like Gov. Dean has the guts to give it right back to them and they don’t like it…. Grow up… pleeeese!

  10. Willie says:

    Dick Cheney is no gentleman! Isn’t that what the Vice- President and his wife had to say during the debates when they got so irate over John Kerry invoking the name of their daughter. Kerry’s comments were not the least bit insulting toward the younger Ms. Cheney, and clearly her involvement in the political process to reelect Bush/Cheney made her fair game a lot more so than Dean’s mama. I’m not a Dean supporter, but I really hate the total hypocrisy represented by Dick.

  11. Kathy says:

    Whether someone loves Howard Dean or not, I find it interesting that Dick Cheney, The Vice-President of The Uninted States, has time to discuss it, instead of a subject of more national importance like security within Iraq, especially after recently learning that secirity with Iraq is outsourced to a Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, instead of our own military. One would think Hannity & Colmes could find a topic of national importance to discuss rather than Howard Dean’s mother.

  12. Richard J. Van Mele says:

    Both of our political parties appear to have lost pride and civility in the heat of articulating their differences. Personal attacks on those with differing opinions is very low class. Why is it that both the Republican and Democratic leaders continue bating each other with extremist references. Republicans eroneously refer to Democrats as if all are liberals [socialists], and the Democrat references are that all Republicans are extremist neo-conservatives [Nazism]. I thought we were mostly an intelligent country. Where are we headed with the present leadership in both parties?

  13. Darrel says:

    Typically, we see the sides lining up. Dems on one side, Repubs on the other. We the American people are in the middle. I don’t really care for either one of the two “mouths” and find fault with both. Dean is a loose cannon that is constantly putting his foot in his mouth and Cheney was right in some respects. I am a white Christian Republican but that does not mean I am bad. I have many democrats as friend and we have healthy discussions but in this part of the Heartland our democrats,of which I used to be one, are more conservative than those of the northest and “left” coast. Both of these two need to get onto something else and let’s try to pull this country back together. Remember “One nation under GOD” is still in our pledge.