Last week I was lucky enough to be in New York and attend the first book event for Herding Donkeys: The Fight To Rebuild The Democratic Party And Reshape American Politics.
The event had a lot of buzz, because author and fantastic Nation writer Ari Berman, was conducting a Q&A of sorts with Howard Dean, the main protagonist in his story of how Democrats came to rebuild The Party of Jefferson and obtain electoral dominance in 2006 and 2008.
What a difference two years makes, huh? But I digress...
This talk reminded me (and probably everyone else in the room) why we love(d) Dean. He was honest and forthright, giving his opinion whether you wanted to hear it or not. Which meant calling James Carville and Stan Greenberg "clueless," talking about the Washington bubble and its effect on this White House and telling those thinking about abandoning Democrats what a mistake that would be, and how it will hurt our country.
Now, whether you agree with any of the above or not is not the point -- the fact that Howard Dean still shows the leadership traits many of us are longing for these days, that's the point.
Perhaps more importantly, the talk gave some insight into why everyone who is upset with the current state of the Democratic Party simply must read Ari's book. He chronicles the rise of Dean, the 50-state strategy (and Rahm Emanuel's throwing a tantrum when Dean stood up to him, leading Rahm to refer to the 50-state strategy, in his usual charming manner, as "f**king bullshit."), President Obama's building upon what Dean started both rhetorically and technologically during his campaign, and then, um, what has happened since...
Ari is a friend, but even if he were not, I could not recommend a book with more enthusiasm. You wanna know what happened and how we got here? Read the book. It only took me four days after that event to shoot right through it cover to cover, as I simply couldn't put it down. And you won't be able to either.