Our favorite presidential hopeful took time out of his busy schedule Tuesday morning to stand by his kid at Vermont District Court.
Campaign Manager Joe Trippi took the early flight to Chicago, where an important conclave of union leaders was taking place. But Ho-Ho went to court, where his 17-year-old son Paul Dean was scheduled to be arraigned on the felony charge of accessory to burglary.
Young Paul and four buds were pinched on June 20 for breaking into the walk-in cooler at the Burlington Country Club in search of Buds. They swiped dozens of cases of brew and bottles of champagne. Due to Daddy's current notoriety, the story went national.
But the BCC 5 -- Paul plus Chris Guyette, Tom Mertz, George Beato and Ryan Weigand -- never did get arraigned. Instead, the prosecutor offered them the opportunity to apply for court diversion. It's a program available to first-time offenders. If the beer burglars keep their noses clean for two years, their records will be erased.
According to the police affidavit, the BCC beer heist "was not a spur of the moment incident." It had been planned out for "at least a week."
Police sources tell Seven Days the BCC 5 had conducted a trial run the night before the actual robbery to check for a burglar alarm system. The scheme was so well thought out, the Dean gang even brought replacement locks for the ones they cut through with bolt-cutters. In fact, we're told, the first time a police car checked the scene, the BBC outdoor cooler looked untouched. The locks were all in place. Brilliant kids, eh?
Our sources say the BCC 5 planned on stashing some of the beer to get them through the summer and selling the rest to the thirsty underage population. Entrepreneurs, eh?
Daddy Dean handled the situation well. He acted appropriately emotional and upset, and stood by his lawbreaking kid.
"It was a foolish mistake," said Ho-Ho. "People do make stupid mistakes and Paul has to pay the price for that."
Might Son of Ho-Ho have stayed on the straight and narrow had his papa spent more time at home and less time hopping around the country running for president?
"That, of course, was something that bothered me a lot," said Daddy Dean. "But then Judy pointed out that the parents of the four other kids weren't running around the country."
Who knows, in 17 months young Paul might be tapping the White House walk-in cooler? And, we'd bet, he wouldn't have to cut the locks.
Kerry's Anger Management -- As Howard Dean's presidential campaign takes flight, Sen. John Kerry's campaign appears headed for a crash landing.
In the past week, Dean has come in first in polls of Democratic voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire. He's this week's cover boy in Time and Newsweek. On Monday, Ho-Ho started running two weeks of campaign commercials in President George W. Bush's home state of Texas. And Tuesday, Dean for America went up on New Hampshire and Boston TV, Kerry's home turf.
"Big cohones!" as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used to say.
From the beginning, Big John Kerry of Massachusetts has behaved as if the Democratic nomination was his personal entitlement. Nothing could possibly disrupt his destiny to rule. Kerry even rides his Harley without a helmet! But then along came Howard Dean of Vermont, playing little Seabiscuit to Kerry's stately War Admiral.
It's been obvious that the Kerry camp hasn't figured out what to do about the Vermonter's insurgency. At times, Kerry's campaign manager Jim Jordan sounds like he's on a totally different page than his candidate.
Mr. Jordan has been dissing Dean for months. He paints Ho-Ho as a "small-town, unemployed doctor" from a tiny, "atypical" state. No match for his big horse from mighty Massachusetts, eh?
Jordan's other line of attack has been to marginalize Dr. Dean as Mr. Angry.
"Angry candidates don't wear well," Jordan told the Wall Street Journal on May 2.
"If voters have gotten one impression of Howard Dean, it's one of anger," he told the Boston Globe in July. "I think angry men don't typically win national political races."
But while Jordan was hyping Dean's anger as a negative, Big John Kerry was trying to emulate it. After all, Dean's "anger" was attracting tens of thousands of "angry" Americans to sign on with his campaign and contribute millions over the Internet.
"We need to get angry!" said Kerry in Sioux City, Iowa, back on May 30. And he kept saying it. On July 9 he expressed the need to get angry seven times at a house party in Concord, New Hampshire. When reporter James Pindell asked if his anger was growing as the race went on, Kerry replied, "I have always been upset and will continue to be."
So what's the story? Campaign Manager Jordan thinks anger is bad. Candidate Kerry thinks anger is good. No wonder the Kerry campaign is unraveling in an "internal conflict" over how to respond to Howard Dean. They don't know whether to attack Ho-Ho or ignore him and hope he goes away.
Of course, the real anger difference between Dean and Kerry is the fact that Dean doesn't have to announce his anger; he projects it. It's in his voice. It's the red in his cheeks, the bulging veins in his neck. For Howard Dean, anger is not a word but rather an emotion that comes from deep inside his gut.
For Kerry, anger is a concept. It's an intellectual experience that occurs within the wiring of his cerebrum. If the Big Stiff didn't tell people he was angry, no one would know.
To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., unless a presidential candidate has something to get angry about, he/she isn't fit to lead the country.
Gone But Not Forgotten? -- In recent discussions of the 2004 gubernatorial race, one name has been absent from the lists of potential challengers to Republi-can Gov. Jim Douglas -- the man he beat last November, Democrat Doug Racine.
Instead, discussion of potential challengers have mentioned Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, former Senate president pro tem Peter Shumlin, who opted out of a primary fight with Racine and ran for Gov-lite, and Congressman Bernie Sanders.
The reason Racine is ignored is a simple one -- he ran a dreadful, pathetic, uninspiring campaign. But guess what, folks?
Racine may be coming back!
The South Burlington car dealer told Seven Days this week he's "thinking about" running again in 2004 but hasn't made a final decision yet.
"I am considering it," said Racine. "Absolutely!"
Racine has critiqued the mistakes of his 2002 race. Jimmy D went on TV early with spots on Vermont's job loss and spots attacking Racine as a "flip-flopper." Douglas' campaign aide (now Republican Party chairman) Jim Barnett pumped out spicy weekly hits to the press corps on Racine's record. The Democrat did not respond. And Racine's TV campaign didn't start until the fall. Too late.
"I don't think I should have ignored him," said Racine. "I should have hit 'em back, sooner and harder than I did." To that end, The Quiet Man said he wished he'd hired a press secretary who worked the Vermont press aggressively like Barnett did.
So, we asked Doug the Campaign Slug, was he just too much of a nice guy to handle Douglas' negative attacks?
"Not anymore," replied Racine with a sly grin.
We shall see.
Medical Ethics? -- Allegations brought by the state that Burling-ton opthalmologist David Chase M.D. performed unnecessary cataract surgery on unsuspecting patients raises disturbing questions about just how well the medical profession polices itself.
According to documents filed by the attorney general's office, Chase's alleged scheme to deliberately misdiagnose patients and pressure them into having eye operations goes back 20 years. Several local opthalmologists gave statements to investigators indicating they saw numerous patients of Dr. Chase who came to them for "second opinions."
Dr. Edwin Guilfoy told investigators that for the past 20 years he's been aware Chase was performing "more cataract surgeries than probably was needed." At least 50 patients of Chase's came to him for a second opinion. And his opinion was that none of them needed cataract surgery.
Dr. Alan E. Irwin told investigators that over the last 20 years he had seen more than 100 of Chase's patients for the same reason. Irwin indicated 95 percent did not need surgery.
Obviously something was rotten in David Chase's Denmark. But why didn't Drs. Guilfoy and Irwin turn him in, you ask?
Well, we don't know that they didn't. The good doctors did not return our calls this week seeking answers to that very question. And a check of records of such complaints at the Medical Practice Board led to an abrupt dead end.
"Unless an investigation results in the attorney general's seeking Board action," said John Howland Jr., interim director of the Vermont Medical Practice Board, "we are required by law to keep all details confidential. With respect to Dr. Chase, the public record is silent on whether or not previous complaints were ever received and investigated."
According to the ethical guidelines adopted by the American Medical Association and the Vermont Medical Society, docs are supposed to report misconduct by their peers: "A physician shall... strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in fraud or deception, to appropriate entities."
According to Paul Harring-ton, executive vice-president of the Vermont Medical Society (of which Chase has been a member since 1970), "If physicians believe that another physician is deficient, they have an obligation to report their suspicions."
Normally, said Harrington, an unethical doctor would be outed by a hospital's peer review process. But Chase operated outside the local hospital culture. He had his own private operating room installed in his downtown Burlington clinic.
Dr. Jim Bernat, director of clinical ethics at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, told Seven Days, "In ideal circumstances, if a physician were fully aware and totally certain another physician was practicing incompetently, it would present a duty for that doctor to report the other doctor."
But in the real world, said Bernat, different doctors come up with different medical opinions. Different eye doctors, for example, have different thresholds for deciding when cataract surgery is appropriate.
Certainly, great minds can disagree. But we asked the Dart-mouth-Hitchcock ethicist if it mattered that a doctor was telling patients (as Chase allegedly did) not to seek a second opinion?
Bernat chuckled. "That's not a typical thing," he replied. "Most doctors should be willing to allow second opinions, particularly for elective surgery."
Bernat told Seven Days he'd "never heard of" a case in which a doctor advised patients not to get second opinions.
Silent Bob? -- Despite repeatedly mocking the Green Mountain State on CNN's "Capital Gang" as "The People's Republic of Vermont," Bob Novak quietly slipped into Vermont last weekend to honor one of his political heroes -- Calvin Coolidge!
Seven Days has confirmed the distinguished Chicago Sun-Times' columnist and conservative prognosticator flew into Burlington International Friday evening from D.C. to attend Saturday's "Old Home Day" festivities sponsored by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation (CCMF) in Plymouth Notch.
Turns out the irascible, pint-sized columnist has long been a big fan of Silent Cal. According to Mimi Blair, chair of the CCMF trustees, Novak "has been a member of the Coolidge Foundation for many, many years." But Blair said Novak hasn't been to Old Home Day before.
"We didn't know he was coming," said Baird. "He suddenly just appeared." Mimi said Novak stayed all day, but Howard Dean's name never came up.
In 1998, Novak gave a speech at the JFK Library touting Coolidge as one of the greatest American presidents of all time, second only to his all-time hero Ronald Reagan!
Unfortunately, Mr. Novak was reluctant to discuss his Vermont visit with yours truly. When we called his Washington, D.C., office Monday, his assistant put us on hold for a minute. Then we were informed Novak "is unavailable" to talk about it.
Never known Battling Bob to be speechless. Most likely, he doesn't want folks to know about his connection to liberal Vermont.
Perhaps it's his secret love and admiration for Coolidge that explains Novak's recent flattering comments about another Vermonter's presidential quest.
A few weeks ago Novak the conservative Republican called Howard Dean, "a pretty attractive candidate. People can imagine him as President Dean."
On last Saturday's "Capital Gang," Novak gave a thumbs-up to Dean's campaign strategy.
"If [Dean] is going to be elected," said Novak, "he's going to have to move to the center, that's true. But he doesn't have to move to the center now. I think he's playing it just right."
Just right, eh, Bob?
Amazing what a little Green Mountain air can do to clear the vision of a crusty, conservative curmudgeon, eh?
Hey, Silent Bob, next time you're in Vermont, give us a jingle. We'd love to chat about Vermonters with White House connections.