January 22, 2004
Guest Blogger Patty McIntosh: The Truth Behind the "Iowa Yell"
Much has been said about Dean's speech to his supporters after the Iowa Caucus. What played well to the huge crowd of supporters in the room came off as slightly crazed to television viewers, especially his Yeehaaa that has been dubbed the "Iowa Yell." The television audience couldn't see or hear the roaring crowd that Dean was trying to talk over. Here's a first-hand report from Mendon, VT resident Patty McIntosh who spent almost a week in Des Moines volunteering on the "Perfect Storm" campaign:
I'm back home now from Iowa and I just wanted to toss this out there for those of you who weren't there (and for the members of the media who were not actually there as well):
What you may have seen or heard on TV/radio was edited in such a way that it sounded like Howard was a raving lunatic.
But that's only half of the story.
What the media and pundits failed to capture, almost to a one, was the crowd.
I was THERE, folks.
I was standing 20 feet from the stage.
The crowd was enthusiastic when Tom Harkin took the stage, but they went wild when Howard appeared. It shouldn't be surprising. Many of us had been there for a week or longer, waking early, standing out in the freezing cold to show the morning Iowa commuters our Dean signs, walking door to door, calling likely Dem voters till 9:00 at night, crawling the bars to get his name out and persuade a few more Iowans to our side, and even doing housekeeping chores around the Iowa HQ. We were bleary-eyed and exhausted and overwrought over not placing at least 2nd. As Charlie Brown said once, "How could we lose when we were so sincere?"
People were shouting the whole time -- shouting at the top of their lungs, whistling, and clapping, rattling cans. Some were even using megaphones.
Flags were waving, pompons were shaking, and feet were stomping to the point that the room vibrated. There were probably over 1000 people elbow to elbow in that room that night.
The crowd was so unbelievably loud I could barely hear myself think, let alone hear what Howard was saying.
Trust me -- it was DEAFENING.
The media filtered OUT the crowd -- probably done with the intention of capturing what Howard said clearly! -- but that also meant that inadvertently most of what one hears is Howard and NOT who and what Howard was responding TO.
I saw his mouth moving, but I could only guess what he was saying most of the time. He was responding to us, his supporters out on the floor, and to our shouts and our energy.
So don't trust what you read or even what you see/hear in the media.
Trust the word of someone who was actually there.
There was nothing embarrassing about Iowa -- not even the 3rd place finish.
Howard endured a barrage of negative campaign ads from Gephardt over the course of the past month. Iowans who had originally been BIG Gephardt supporters resented it and shoved Gephardt out of the race entirely. Most or all of his delegates in the caucuses went to Kerry. A few went to Edwards.
The Kerry people were pulling dirty tricks by push-polling -- a Dean supporter, Richard Hoefer of San Francisco who runs the Dean Media Team, caught them doing it ON FILM and a Kerry staffer was fired for it.
They were saying "If you knew Howard Dean was an environmental racist, would you still vote for him?"
What the hell is an environmental racist anyway? No one in the Kerry camp seemed to know, but it sounds so awful Iowans on the receiving end of those calls were saying "Well no! Of course not!" and writing Howard off as some sort of bigot (which he is not!).
Please folks -- be as skeptical of the media as you are of the politicians in this game, and urge your friends and family to do so as well. Even when they mean well, they're not always able to convey the whole context of the event.
And sometimes (though this is not true of all of them by any means)... all they care about is what sells.
back in Mendon, VT
Posted by David Fox on January 22, 2004 at 10:46 AM | Permalink
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Thanks, Patty. That is a terrific rendition of the evening in Iowa. I still can't believe the media missed the message that I was trying to send. That we may have been down, but we are certainly not out.
Posted by: Sleepless in Seattle at January 22, 2004 12:33 PM