Howard Dean on Meet the Press

Here's the transcript and here are some highlights:

MR. RUSSERT: But is it appropriate for a physician to mock somebody who has gone into therapy and the abuse for drug addiction?

DR. DEAN: Here's the point I was trying--as most of these things are taken by the Republicans, spun around Washington saying this in a one sentence, which I generally had said. But then they're sort of manipulated around, saying this is the kind of thing he said. The Rush Limbaugh comment was one that I made about Rush Limbaugh, and I also said something about Bill O'Reilly. The problem is not that these folks have problems. They do, and they have problems in the case of a drug addiction. That's a medical problem. And I respect those who clearly, in my profession, who are trying to overcome their problems.

The problem is it is galling to Democrats, 48 percent of us who did not support the president, it is galling to be lectured to about moral values by folks who have their own problems. Hypocrisy is a value that I think has been embraced by the Republican Party. We get lectured by people all day long about moral values by people who have their own moral shortcomings. I don't think we ought to give a whole lot of lectures to people--I think the Bible says something to the effect that be careful when you talk about the shortcomings of somebody else when you haven't removed the mote from your own eye. And I don't think we ought to be lectured to by Republicans who have got all these problems themselves.

Rush Limbaugh has made a career of belittling other people and making jokes about President Clinton, about Mrs. Clinton and others. I don't think he's in any position to do that, nor do I think Bill O'Reilly is in a position to abuse families of survivors of 9/11, given his own ethical shortcomings. Everybody has ethical shortcomings. We ought not to lecture each other about our ethical shortcomings.

MR. RUSSERT: But should you jump in the fray and be mocking those kind of people?

DR. DEAN: I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy. I'm not going to be lectured as a Democrat--we've got some pretty strong moral values in my party, and maybe we ought to do a better job standing up and fighting for them. Our moral values, in contradiction to the Republicans', is we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night. Our moral values say that people who work hard all their lives ought to be able to retire with dignity. Our moral values say that we ought to have a strong, free public education system so that we can level the playing field. Our moral values say that what's going on in Indian country in this country right now in terms of health care and education is a disgrace, and for the president of the United States to cut back on health-care services all over America is wrong.

Democrats have strong moral values. Frankly, my moral values are offended by some of the things I hear on programs like "Rush Limbaugh," and we don't have to put up with that. Our problem in this party is we didn't stand up early enough and fight back against folks like that who thought they were going to push us around and bully us, and we're not going to do it anymore.


MR. RUSSERT: It's interesting. You said that the issue is are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? And I was reading the Pew Research Center where they went out and surveyed 11,000 of your closest advisers...

DR. DEAN: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: ...contributors, activists, volunteers. It was quite striking. Dean activists vs. all Democrats--attend attend church seldom or never, 59 percent of Dean activists seldom or never as opposed to 25 percent of all Democrats; 92 percent white, 82 percent liberal, 45 percent over 75,000. Is your base secular, affluent, white and liberal?

DR. DEAN: I think not quite as much as the Pew folks. That was a very fascinating study. The only methodological problem is they only went on the Internet, and, therefore, you could answer or could not. But I think it's a great piece.

Look, I fit into some of those categories. I don't go to church all that much. I consider myself a deeply religious person. I consider myself a Christian. And I don't--you know, some of the other Christians would dare to say that I'm not a Christian. Frankly, it's what gets my ire up. We get back to the Rush Limbaugh stuff. I am sick of being told what I and what I'm not by other people. I'll tell you what I am. I'm a committed Christian. And the fact of whether I go to church or not, people can say whether I should or shouldn't, I worship in my own way. It came out in the campaign that I pray every night. That's my business. That's not the business of the pharisees who are going to preach to me about what I do and then do something else.

You know, I care about values a lot. And one of the reasons that I care a lot is because of my upbringing. And it was a--I grew up in a Christian household. Now, because I grew up--I'm a congregationalist. People say, "Well, those are liberals." Well, since when do Christians get tagged liberal or conservative? You either believe in the teachings of Jesus or you don't. I do. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I don't go around wearing it on my sleeve. And I think that's a private matter. And I'm happy to talk about it. I've been through a political campaign. There are a lot of folks to whom, you know, that's very important. I respect that. But I'm not going to be lectured to about my own private morality and my own private business by people who don't have the mote taken out of their own eye.

There's lots of other good stuff in there as well. Worth reading.

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