The resurrection of Howard Dean
The Democrats really have a shot at renewing themselves as a mainstream moderate party along the lines of the Zell Millers, Joe Liebermans, Evan Bayhs, and John Breauxs. But they may be punting given that they now want Howard Dean to be the leader of the party.
Of course, this isn't the worst choice they can make for their future. Dean is a face that the rank and file of the party all know and to some degree like. Dean would also be replacing the man who has driven the party into the ground over the past four years--Terry McAuliffe. Without going on an extended diatribe about McAuliffe, the man has done more good for the Republicans than Karl Rove could ever hope to do. This was the guy who predicted Senate pickups and a Jeb Bush loss in 2002. He was close...Jeb won by double digits, and the President whom McAuliffe called illegitimate, put his own political capital on the line and regained control of the Senate. And the same in 2004. More Senate and House pickups, and another Bush win. McAuliffe's truly bizarre rhetoric and behavior earned him the rather fitting nickname "The Punk" by Rush Limbaugh. This guy is not a Tony Coelho or Dick Morris, whom the Republicans disliked but learned to respected because of their effectiveness. This is a guy with no self-respect who made a complete jackass of himself and brought much humiliation to his party. So, his loss could only help the Democrats.
But Eleanor Clift this morning, in her usual defense of her party, stated that Dean had broad support among Democrats. Curious then, that he almost never did better than a distant 3rd place finish in the primaries behind John Edwards, who couldn't gain re-election to the Senate, and couldn't at least deliver for his ticket a respectable single digit loss in his own state.
But what may be the more revealing thing about the Dems' potential choice of Dean is what it says about them and their knowledge of him. Dean really was not the liberal nutcase that he appeared to be. Sure, he believed to one degree or another most of the silly stuff he said, he has a fiery short fuse, and is fairly irreligious, but as a governor, the guy was significantly more of a moderate than he let on, and notably more so than John Kerry, a doctrinaire liberal who played himself as a moderate.
But what the liberal base knows best about Dean is his demagoguery in 2003 that put him on top of the pack until a week before Iowa. And it's hard to think that they're interested in a boring and undistinguished moderate-left governor. If they really wanted a more centrist approach, they could sign on Tom Vilsac of Iowa, Gary Locke of Washington, or even the likes of retiring Senator John Breaux of Louisiana. Make no mistake, the Democrats courting Dean as their leader want the same guy who ran the inflammatorily liberal campaign of 2003.
So it's hard to say what will eventually come of this development, but one thing's for sure: irrespective of whatever result a Dean chairmanship may bring, the Democrats are not pulling away from the ways of the left that have cost them dearly in 2000, 2002 and 2004.