Howard Dean made the news twice this week. By that I mean that he was in the news once and brought it about invisibly a second time.
He was in the news for his inane remarks about the non-mosque that has been approved for a site not-at-Ground Zero (if its backers had any money to build, which they don’t)–not that Dean took the trouble to learn any of this before mouthing off that Cordoba was an “affront” to the families of 9/11 victims.
He was behind the claim trumpeted by Tim Kaine that “Democrats [hold] important structural advantages over Republicans, particularly the strength of their political organization in states across the country.” I’m less confident than Kaine is that this will salvage the election (it’s his job to be upbeat), but it’s a real strength nevertheless, and Dean can take credit. Kaine is talking about the fifty-state strategy, which was Dean’s doing, and which made the Democratic Party stronger throughout the country than it had been in decades.
I know that people’s political likes and dislikes tend to go in a lump: our favorable or unfavorable feelings about politicians radically shape our judgments about everything they do. In Dean’s case, though, a mixed verdict seems appropriate. This week vindicates both those (e.g. me) who thought Dean the presidential candidate an arrogant, moralizing aristocrat with a barely concealed cynical streak and those who thought his ideas about fundraising and party-building were nothing short of a revelation. We should be very glad that Dean brought back the party, and very glad that he’s not running the country.