January 20, 2004


Did Howard Dean suffer an anxiety attack when he was elected as governor of Vermont? Dean says no; but People magazine has a transcript that says yes.

(Via Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner)

Posted by Tim Blair at January 20, 2004 02:19 AM

Good work, Tim!

Posted by: Roger Bournival at January 20, 2004 at 03:27 AM

And the point is...?

Are we now going to be using Ken Starr tactics before a Democrat even makes it to the White House? Over something that isn't anywhere near as questionable as adultery?

I remember one Aussie who had one thing to say about the Clinton impeachment trials: "Thank God we got the convicts and they got the Puritans." Apparently his thanks was a bit premature...

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at January 20, 2004 at 03:57 AM

I have to say, this is the first sympathy I've had for Dean. He was expressing the humility, the gravity of his responsibility that any elected official should feel, in the clumsy language of modern days-- not "I realized I was standing on the shoulders of giants" but "I totally freaked!"

And people now want to turn that into a psychotic episode. It is not to his credit that he can't just make light of it the way I have, which would be the best way to kill the story-- but still. The dude just freaked for a moment.

Posted by: Mike G at January 20, 2004 at 04:23 AM

If Dean suffered anxiety attacks after becoming the governor of Vermont - a rural state with a population that could fit into a Houston suburb - then it's more than fair to ask what might happen if he suddenly found himself the leader of the free world?

I'm starting to get the feeling that Dean's candidacy is going to melt down long before he ever reaches the general election.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at January 20, 2004 at 04:33 AM

Give him a Xanax or Klonopin -- problem solved!

Posted by: Jerry at January 20, 2004 at 05:11 AM

I'm no fan of Howard Dean. As someone who suffers from Panic Disorder, however, I do believe this one was below the belt and devoid of any real point.

Posted by: TribeHasSpoken at January 20, 2004 at 06:32 AM

You know, I had read what they said on the Corner and I dismissed it as it sounded blown out of proportion but reading that People interview, that is going to really hurt if it gets out there.

Posted by: Toll at January 20, 2004 at 06:50 AM


If he had phrased it the way you did it would concern me a lot less than the way he put it.

Posted by: Otter at January 20, 2004 at 09:16 AM

Is a president with a panic disorder neccessarily a bad thing? It might encourage leaders of rogue states to behave a little better.

(Seriously, I don't see this as an issue.)

Posted by: Andjam at January 20, 2004 at 10:33 AM

Ya no problem there except if it was Bush he'd get crucified and everybody knows it. Dean for dog catcher (as long as it's not in my neighborhood).

Posted by: Arty at January 20, 2004 at 12:12 PM

With the deepest respect to Andjam, having a national leader that is subject to panic attacks is extremely dangerous.

However, besides that point, I should like to point out that People magazine is nothing but a celebrity rag. I would never count on People magazine to reflect anything near a high degree of professional journalism. Something tells me that the writer, well, exaggerated- a lot.
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Posted by: Alexander at January 20, 2004 at 01:03 PM

It seems to me there are three separate issues here. First, is it desirable for a person with anxiety management issues and a history of insomnia, for which he has taken sleeping tablets, to be President of the United States? It doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling to think that the President might either begin to hyperventilate or be less than fully alert when the red phone rings.

Second, if the Doocy-Dean confrontation has been accurately reported, isn't this further proof that Dean's temperament is questionable.

Finally, isn't Dean being less than truthful about his anxiety management issues? Is an "anxiety attack" different to a "panic attack"? According to Dean they're the same.

Posted by: J F Beck at January 20, 2004 at 02:39 PM

This story will not get much traction, yet.

It will if the Mad How (see Mark Steyn) wins the Democratic nomination.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder are conditions which could disqualify a physician from licensing or receiving malpractice insurance coverage in the US.

This is not to say that mood and anxiety disorders are disqualifying, but certainly a licensing candidate will undergo greater scrutiny if these are present, as there is potentially added liability that comes with these conditions.

Now, take the job of the POTUS, arguably the most powerful man on the planet, with perhaps the greatest total stress load imaginable. Incapacitation from a panic attack, generalized anxiety, or major depression (depression is comorbid with anxiety disorders) could have serious and significant consequences.

There is no need to press the "rights of people with anxiety," here, nor are these circumstances germane per se with regard to the ADA (Americans with Disability Act). In this totally unique case, mood or anxiety disorders could conceivably be grounds to disqualify someone from being POTUS.

This does not even touch on Dean's characterologic flaws and interpersonal style, his intense narcissistic personality, poor frustration tolerance, episodic rage, etc.


Posted by: MeTooThen at January 20, 2004 at 02:47 PM

Dean wasn't elected when he first became governor, Tim. He was lieutenant governor when the sitting governor, Richard Snelling, died suddenly. Lieutenant governor isn't a full-time job in Vermont. Dean was at his medical practice when he was told the news.

Given the circumstances if he suffered a moment of anxiety it's perfectly understandable.

Posted by: Kevin at January 21, 2004 at 12:42 AM