Is Howard Dean the Democrats' Karl Rove? Or an albatross worthy of replacing with Harold Ford?
Let the infighting begin.
It's an open secret that Democrats don't really like one another. The bloodsport between the progressives over at Kos and the New Democrats over at TNR is proof enough of that.
One of the things Dems love to fight over is the value of Howard Dean. The Kossacks & Co. love them some Dean. They came of age together politically and raised a lot of money on the Internets.
Then there are the old-school New Dems who believe in the Washington establishment, militant centrism, and Clintonian economics.
Ask the former who was responsible for the Democrats' victory Tuesday, and they'll tell you it's Dean, who brilliantly pursued his "50 State Strategy" by which Democrats attempted to build a truly national party and "expand the map" -- forcing Republicans to defend territory they long took for granted. They point to Democratic gains in Indiana, for example, where the party picked up three seats. Also that seat in Kentucky. And the one in Kansas.
The New Dems, by contrast, blame Dean for sinking good money after bad in locales with few short-term prospects. They look to seats in Illinois (Tammy Duckworth), Ohio (where 4th ranking Republican Deborah Pryce and Mean-Jean-Schmidt appear to be hanging on) and New Mexico (where the indisputably awesome Patricia Madrid appears to have lost) as places where an infusion of Dean's cash could have tipped the balance. They think the Dems could have built a '94-in-reverse style majority, if only. If only Dean had listened to the devastatingly brilliant and ruthless Rahm Emanuel and abandoned his quixotic party building exercises.
Over at Salon today Joe Conason gives Dean the kind of massaging ("Howard Dean, Vindicated") that would make Ted Haggard's gigilo blush.
Unfortunately for Dean, he doesn't play the Washington press corps nearly as well as do rivals like Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill....But this week, he is enjoying vindication far earlier than he ever expected.
Despite all the complaints and demands directed at him over the past 18 months, Dean stuck to his principles.... Against the counsel of party professionals, whose long losing streak has done little to diminish their influence, the new chairman began the process of re-creating the Democratic Party in 2005.
The New Republic, meanwhile, is giving voice to high-caliber Dean snipers, who apparently want to can The Screamer and replace him with the best of the Dems' also rans from '06.
Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.
The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.
Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."
A unity front was probably a little much to ask for, wasn't it?
(UPDATEThe Kos/Carville Catfight!.)