Is Howard Dean Angry? I think not.
Certainly after the Iowa caucus, Dean’s reputation as an angry person has spread wide and far. To me, he looks passionate, not angry. In Iowa, over-the-top passionate, but still–not angry.
People recognize emotions using several different facial expression cues. Professor Paul Ekman has spent his career studying how emotion is expressed and communicated. He even has produced CD-ROMs to teach people to recognize common confusions in interpreting facial expressions.
One indicator of anger is a thinning and tightening of the lips. Dean has no lips to begin with! Physically, his mouth simply conveys anger simply because of how his face is structured. But watch his forehead–anger is accompanied by a drawing together and down of the eyebrows, producing a vertical furrow between the eyes. Most of the times Dean’s thought to be angry, he isn’t furrowing. He’s passionate, but not angry.
It’s worth learning to interpret facial expressions accurately. Check out Paul Ekman’s sites for training material: http://www.paulekman.com/ and http://www.emotionsrevealed.com.
Do I want passion in a President? Yes. Do I want anger? No. In my book, Dean fits the bill admirably. Having spoken with him one on one for a while, I’m impressed with his thinking abilities, his foresight, and his deep understanding of the problems facing the country. He also knows what he doesn’t know, and uses science and data, to formulate his positions. I disagree with some of Dean’s positions, but his thinking is excellent. And that’s really what I want in a president: excellent values and great thinking.
Pres. Bush is calm and deliberate. As far as I can tell, he also misinterpreted (or worse, misrepresented) what he knew to lead us into a war with a rationale that changed several times and was based only loosely on facts. There’s even evidence in former Treasury Secretary Paul Neill’s new book that the decision to invade Iraq had been made before 9/11. In that case, we’ve been calmly, deliberately lied to by a nice, cheerful, friendly man who anyone would want over for dinner.
So not only do I believe Dean isn’t angry, but even if he were, it doesn’t seem that anger or its lack is closely related to making good policy decisions. So let’s drop the anger debate and take a good hard look at whether the candidates have sensible policies, track records, and values.