Howard goes nutty again in his interview with Rolling Stone, which appears Friday:

“George Bush’s philosophy is: If you’re rich, you deserve it, and if you’re poor, you deserve it.”

“I admire George Bush’s father … he tried to be a good president. This president is not interested in being a good president. He’s interested in some complicated psychological situation that he has with his father.”

“The Republicans are just brutal. They do not care what happens to the future of the country as long as they stay in power, and they’re willing to do anything they can to stay in power.”

These aren’t answers – they are ravings. Dean’s flirtation with the loony vote went on display with NPR’s Diane Rehmin in December, but now its on display again.

Dean: Angry. Unstable. Truth-challenged.

Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager, knows that this instability is destructive of everything except the affections of the nuts in the Democratic primary, so he’s trying to airbrush Dean’s record, beginning with the Rehm interview from Dec. 1.

In a confrontation with CNN’s Paula Zahn on Jan. 9, in which Zahn brought up Dean’s trafficking in the conspiracy theory that the Saudis warned Bush of 9-11’s approach, Trippi challenged Zahn’s account of the Dean quote, saying: “No, no, no. I said that – if you keep reading, you’ll see he said he didn’t believe that.”

When Zahn objected that she was just reading a transcript, Trippi interrupted her repeatedly, and again challenged her: “Could you keep reading the interview and you’ll get to the part where he says he did not believe it?”

Joe Trippi is lying. Dean answered a Rehm question on why the president was “suppressing that report,” referring to the Kean Commission report, and Dean answered (and this is verbatim):

I don’t know. There are many, ah, there are many theories. The most interesting theory that I’ve heard so far, which is nothing more than a theory, I can’t think it can’t be proved, is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis.

Now who knows what the real situation is. But the trouble is, by suppressing that kind of information, you lead to those kind of theories whether they have any truth to them or not and eventually they get repeated as fact, so I think the president is taking a great risk by suppressing the key information that needs to go to the Kean Commission.

Nowhere does Dean say he doesn’t believe the nuttiness. In fact, he traffics it in such a way as to suggest that it is one of many credible, possible theories – “Now who knows what the real situation is?” – and goes on to warn the president of the need to come clean, which is unnecessary with lunatic theories like this one.

So why did Trippi lie so boldly? Because he needs to send out to the troops a message they can repeat to themselves, regardless of its factual accuracy. Trippi needed to set up a counter-meme to Dean’s weirdness. Zahn was unprepared for such bald lying, but not the next journalist, who ought to calmly ask Trippi: Did Dean use the phrase: “I don’t believe the theory?”

The answer, of course, is no. Dean could have said such a thing and it still would have been irresponsible trafficking in paranoia, but Dean didn’t. He was peddling lunacy. Trippi should live with it, not lie about it.

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