Thursday, January 20, 2005

You don't have to love Howard Dean ...

... to conclude that he's the best possible choice for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Let's get one thing straight: Howard Dean didn't go down last year because he wasn't the best candidate. He went down last year because Democrats choked. They needed a fighter, and they had one, but at the last minute they deserted him for the chimera of faux-"electability" -- seniority on the Hill, a record that could reasonably be portrayed as congenially bi-partisan, a known quantity with whom they felt comfortable.

No insult intended, Senator Kerry, but Democrats needed a 1948 Harry Truman campaign and settled instead for Bob Dole 1996 redux.

The Democrats' presidential election loss can be their 2006 and 2008 gain, though. Dean didn't miss a step in going from prospective presidential nominee to highly effective organizer of winning campaigns. His "Democracy for America" PAC and "Dean's Dozen" list were instrumental in the few gains the Democrats did make in 2004. Two new Democratic governors in the nation, both backed by Dean. Two new Democratic senators in Washington, both backed by Dean. 14 freshmen in the House -- five of them backed by Dean. State legislative victories in 28 states, including new majorities in one or both legislative houses in Colorado, North Carolina, Vermont, Oregon and Washington, due in no small part to the efforts of Dean and his Deaniacs.

This isn't about policy issues. It's not about "liberal" versus "moderate." It's not even about the Clintonistas versus the world. It's about attitude. It's about getting out there, kicking ass, inciting activism and winning elections.

If the Democratic Party is serious about reclaiming its status as America's majority party, it will choose Howard Dean to lead it toward the sound of the guns.

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