More on Dean
... it should come as no surprise to experienced Dean watchers to hear him say that most Republicans have never earned an honest living. This is what it means not to be ready for primetime. You make the sort of statements that are sure to get attention because they hit flashpoints like class warfare. It's a Republican talk show host's dream.
The reason other Democrats don't say such things is because you don't win elections this way. In point of fact, of course, what Dean is saying is wrong. Most Republicans are not coupon-clippers -- they go to work and earn a day's pay like the rest of us. And hearing Howard Dean say otherwise not only offends Republicans, but also moderates and independents who have no taste for class warfare or the strident liberalism that Howard Dean is selling.
But that's not really the problem with Dean. In seeking the party chairmanship, he promised not to run for president. I'd be willing to bet that Howard Dean will be well out of the picture by the time November 2008 rolls around, having been replaced by someone with less of an appetite for insulting would-be voters and donors.
What is far more troubling is what Dean may not be doing, and what his counterpart, Ken Mehlman, almost certainly is. According to the latest reports, Mehlman and his RNC have outraised Dean and his DNC by a factor of about three to one: $42 million to $14 million. Three top DNC major fund-raisers have left in recent weeks, among conflicting reports as to whether their departures are routine aspects of the normal transition to new leadership or a sign of the move from a focus on large donors to the grass-roots small-donor base that Dean emphasized in his own campaign and has been talking up since.
The truth is that the Democrats must do both if they are to be competitive. It doesn't matter very much what the party leader sounds off about -- there are plenty of Democrats with bigger bullhorns than his. But he is the only one whose job is to put together the technology that the 2008 candidate will need if he is to have the ability to pull off what Karl Rove did in 2004, and then some.
Look for more such Democratic voices to sound the alarm in future months.
Oh, and I almost forgot. I would be remiss to quote Ms. Estrich without taking the opportunity to dust off this classic visual from the archives.