Nicholas D. Kristof... you are all wet!

It was not enough that you were raised in Yamhill , Oregon , with those 43 inches of yearly rain! You had to study in Boston and Oxford , which climatologically did not help a bit. Sooner or later, it had to happen; your rationale simply had to get all wet. No doubt you wrote the column, prophesizing Dean’s election crush, in a puddle of tears shed for a presidential candidate of eight campaigns ago.

But before your postulates take center stage, let first things be first.

These past few days have seen Dean receive the endorsement of two well-known Americans. One much caricatured, and the other, a superb caricaturist; both bearers of a good social conscience. Whether Al Gore and Molly Ivins saw in Candidate Dean the socio-political profile of their preference was probably secondary to the call-to-arms which both thought had to be made. To them, it is Dean now… before the clock strikes “too-late.”

Dean has been stoned from all political fronts: Center, Right and Left. Why, then, is he so popular with the progressive, antiwar young? Or, for that matter… the old? Simply, because the Governor was one of the few outspoken people in the country with both brains and vision to call the Iraq adventure what it was: just a war… not a just war, as perfectly dubbed by President Carter. A war that can only be described as a deliberate crusade of the Far Right led by a not-so-articulate American Urban II.

The more vocal criticism, nonetheless, comes from those who claim Dean is not a centrist. But for anyone to contend that he represents the Left, “mild” Socialism or Progressive Liberalism is bordering on the absurd. If there is a candidate more centrist in what he has done or said, politically, one would have to admit to virtuous manners at a bacchanalia.

Now, Kristof, you tell us Dean is geographically-challenged; has a style somewhat antagonistic, without broad appeal; and is too blue-blooded to win our plebeian souls. One gets the feeling from your doom and gloom characterization that to enlist in Dean’s army is a sure way to be part of a casualty list.

The geographical issue can be easily addressed, possibly with Edwards in the ticket as VP, or simply enlisting Gore’s help. Bubbas expect to be understood, and treated with dignity, not just seduced. And Dean is credible to do that, and mean it… for a change.

As for style, I believe you might be underestimating both Dean and the American people. Anger at government corruption; anger at an explosive, imbecilic foreign policy; and anger at an economic policy certain to create disproportionate income inequalities are good, redeeming forms of anger… not just for Candidate Dean but all American people who claim social justice.

Insofar as Dean having a vocabulary beyond the average 5,000 words… please, Kristof, one would want to have an educated, well read individual for president, not an affable boob. Unlike many of his critics, one thing Dean is not, it’s pedantic.

As for his bio, would you prefer Dr. Dean to join Dorothy and her three friends on their way to Oz? Maybe the wizard could perform a heart exchange, letting the Tin Man get a blue-blooded heart, and Dean get the Tin Man’s compassionate conservative heart ( “no heart” to most of us).

It’s a long and arduous road still ahead for Howard Dean, but many of us feel that he is the best person to take the helm and veer America in the right direction. And we are very confident that he will make it. Not a matter of principle, nor masochism, Kristof, but rather of faith and hope.

For whatever its worth, Nicholas Kristof, more often than not I am in total agreement with your socio-political theses. I just think that this time you are living a political dichotomy, and that a 13-year old Nicholas inside of you is going to win.