Hoof-in-Mouth Disease is an ailment generally thought to be endemic to animals, but human beings can sometimes suffer – if not actually the pain – the outward signs of the bothersome affliction, such signs causing snickers and giggles among the onlookers or the hearers or both, in the case of TV. A classic example of H/M symptoms occurred a couple Sundays or so ago when DNC Chair Howard Dean appeared on Meet the Press with host Tim Russert. It’s not surprising that Dean would show signs of this problem, since he manages often to let out the clutch on his mouth before he puts his tongue in gear with his brain. Not surprisingly, he can also be expected to lop off the last syllable of any word having more than two, so fast does he slap his lips together. It’s almost as if he’s afraid he simply will not have the opportunity in the media-op du jour to avail the world of ALL of his wisdom and so must talk as rapidly as possible.

In the interview with Russert, Dean made the statement: “Hypocrisy is a value that I think has been embraced by the Republican Party.” Well…okay, Dean has a right to his opinion, but don’t most folks think that hypocrisy, far from being a value, is a shortcoming to be avoided at all costs? Indeed, much is made by politicians of all stripes these days of value or family values or traditional values or some sort of values ad nauseam, among which, however, most decidedly is not hypocrisy. Of course, Dean may have been using value adversely just to indicate that the Republican Party is so corrupt or whatever that it actually embraces hypocrisy as something admirable, thus effectively showing its ignorance and/or moral turpitude. If so, kudos to the fast-talker from Vermont…but that’s an idea that doesn’t wash. Dean had his foot in his mouth.

A moment later, Dean made the statement: “I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy.” Did he mean to root out hypocrisy from the republicans or root it out from the democrats or maybe from the French or even from Russert? Who knows? Admittedly, I didn’t observe most of the program. If he meant that hypocrisy resided only in the Republican Party and that he would root it out, wouldn’t that make the Republican Party a better entity? (Why not just leave hypocrisy in there?) Well…only if it was a value, one supposes, since values are things that make a party look good; however, Dean had already made it clear that hypocrisy is a value, so that must be what he meant, meaning, one supposes, that he would harm his own party…or something like that…who knows?

A further example of H/M affliction was seen in this statement by Dean in the interview: “…Be careful when you talk about the shortcomings of somebody else when you haven’t removed the mote [italics mine] from your own eye.” This is all well and good and sounds very pontifical, but it’s a good example of why politicians, especially, need to be careful when quoting the Bible. A look at Matthew 7:5 (KJV): Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Either Dean thought a mote (speck) was the same as a beam (a long piece of timber), or he simply clamped his foot securely among his bicuspids. Of course, he could have gotten – and probably did get – his metaphors terribly mixed, but he could hardly afford to laugh at the president’s inability to say nuclear, as many people do (not that Dean ever has), unless he gets his own act together, word-wise.

On the other hand, Dean may have meant that the non-threatening mote actually is in the eye of the republicans and that the beam, representing extreme perfidy, is preferable for the democrats. Politics being what it is on all levels, maybe he’s right. While it’s true that God makes the sun and rain available to both the just and the unjust (if biblical metaphors must be used or abused as the context of the day politically), Dean may be saying that the democrats believe in making the blessing/advantage available only upon themselves, greed (and other despicable things such as filibusters, especially of judicial nominees) being a good representation of the blessing/beam. In other words, Dean misspoke regarding the consensus-preferable mote being in the republicans’ collective eye, instead of the self-serving preferable beam, and that may start him down the road to DNC oblivion. Or, will it – politics being not so much the “art of the possible” as the “modus operandi of the irascible.”

Of course, there’s the thorny issue of what the Bible clearly said, which is that the beam is to be connected with the hypocrite…so, if Dean prefers the perfidious beam he must also accept that the democrats are the hypocrites, which is what he claimed the republicans to be…so, is he actually saying the democrats and republicans should be just alike, and, if so, is the mote preferable to the beam…or vice versa? Plainly, Dean might have been better served if he had simply confined his “religious remarks” to his eschewing of the Episcopal Church in favor of the Congregationalist, at least with respect to that infamous bike path, surely the broad highway to perdition, on which the Bible clearly states that many travel.

Perhaps Dean would be well advised to stick to political hacksterism (okay, just accept it as new word), with all the usual clichés, bromides, fluff, propaganda, whatever. Just think what he might do to the “Golden Rule.” Do unto others [before, when, after the fact, worse than, more than, less than, more lethally than, louder than (Dean Scream), filibustery than] you would have them do unto you. Scary!