You wouldn’t think that one word could be that powerful. I mean it IS just one word. In today’s Youtube society when things can be edited and played over and over one word can be very powerful.
In 2004, Howard Dean was a politician that was seemingly on the rise. He had previously been a doctor in Vermont and then the Governor from 1991 to 2003, and now was running for President. Dean was especially hopeful after being endorsed by Al Gore the former Vice President under Bill Clinton. In the primary season of 2004 there were four candidates on the Democratic side. John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, and the aforementioned Howard Dean. Dean seemed to be a serious contender polling at 20%, while Kerry was at 26% and Edwards 23%, and Gephardt at 18%. It seemed to be a tight four candidate race, with Dean hopeful to pull off the upset in the Iowa Caucuses.
January in Des Moines can sometimes be a brutal place to be. I know how easily I can get sick in the winter. I can’t imagine campaigning, and exposing yourself to that many people and germs. Howard Dean came down with the flu several days before the caucus, to the detriment to his voice. On caucus night (January 19th) John Kerry and John Edwards polling numbers proved true and they finished in first and second place. This put Dean in a disappointing third, and Gephardt in fourth. Dean addressed his supporters at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines after the results at a post caucus rally. I am going to speculate that Dean was dehydrated, tired, and disappointed at his finish when he gave his concession speech. His plan to fire up the crowd was to acknowledge the third place finish, but reassure them that they would finish higher in the other states. His speech went…”Not only are we going to New Hampshire. We’re going to South Carolina and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House. Yeah!” The”Yeah” at the end wasn’t just a yeah like he answering a question, it was more of a “Yeeeeeaaaahhhhwww!” like he was trying to get some cattle to move across a river on an old west cattle drive. To get the full effect you need to watch the video clip below.
I do think the flu had a small effect on his screech, his voice did sound a little rough throughout his speech, but his body language doesn’t indicate that he knows he made some sort of mistake or that his voice was off. Another excuse made for the odd outburst was that he had a non-directional microphone. This type of microphone would pick up his voice, but not the crowd noise as much. This would make him appear to be louder than he was. I do not agree with this argument, mainly because the rest of his speech sounded fairly normal. Either way, he quickly became the butt of jokes and dropped out of the race. I doubt Dean would have won the nomination without “the screech” but it is still amazing, the power of one word.
If you would like to read more on Howard Dean click here.