Democratic National Chair Howard Dean, not Obama or Clinton, should drop out of the political derby. He, not Obama or Clinton, has made a shambles of the Democrat's chances of beating McCain. This presidential race should never have been a race. With Bush's and the GOP's towering foreign and domestic policy bungles, incompetence, corruption, an in the tank economy, and a failed and flawed no win war, this should have been a cakewalk to the White House for any one of the top Democrats.
The clueless Dean deserves much of the blame for that. He was publicly mute when he saw the wrong turn that Obama and Clinton had taken after the first debates. Both had forgotten that the election was about beating up on Bush policies and beating a GOP presidential candidate not beating up on each other. He sent confused, mixed, and contradictory signals on what to about the Michigan and Florida primary vote. Dean's bumble of this sore point issue in effect guaranteed the disfranchisement of thousands of Democratic voters. It also guaranteed that the issue of what to do about these voters and their vote will tear the convention. No matter the outcome there, the bitter feeling and political wounds from the battle will likely cost the Democrats Florida, and possibly Michigan, in the general election.
His browbeat of the superdelegates to make a decision on Obama or Clinton has done nothing but cause them to dig in their heels even harder and hug the fence even tighter. The blame for that must be dumped at his feet. He and party officials dumbly put in the party rules that the superdelegates don't have to make any decision about who they'll support until the convention in August. The rules stood even after it became apparent that the party had two equally matched and appealing candidates, and that neither one would back down.
The wait and see rule for the superdelegates was a walking prescription for disaster. But no, now Dean tries to reverse gears and bully and badger them into taking the very stand that he guaranteed that they don't have to take.
The question is with such colossal bumbling and incompetence how did Dean ever get the DNC job in the first place? Was this his kick upstairs by party cronies for being a bust as a presidential candidate? Or did some in the party delude themselves that somehow Dean would be the man to patch up party rifts, fill up the party's coffers, smoothly oversee the party's reforms, and insure an orderly march to the White House by whichever Democrat got the nod?
At this point it doesn't much matter why Dean got the plum spot, he's been a disaster on every count for the party except on the money. And even on this the Democrat's penchant for raising tons of cash has nothing to do with him but with the intensity of the Obama-Clinton slugfest.
Dean has turned the Democratic Party into the laughingstock of political punditry, and the object of frustration, disgust and ridicule by tens of thousands of Democrats who just knew that this was their year. And possibly worst of all, he's made the party a perennial presidential loser. Yet, he still has the gall to saber rattle Obama and Clinton and tell them that by continuing to fight it out they will wreck the party. Dean's already done that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).