Or, did someone fail to deliver the memo to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said Dean had "energized the base of the party. He has a plan for building the infrastructure of the party. People feel very involved in terms of issues, organization and communication?"
So, which is it? Did Mad Howard misspeak, or are his remarks calculated to "energize the base"? (That was a rhetorical question.)
No less a paragon of verbal restraint than Sen. Ted Kennedy said that though some of Dean's phrases have been "inartful," he has been an effective party chairman. One has to ask what criteria Kennedy has in mind, given that Dean is reputedly having difficulty raising funds for his party, which one would assume would be the chairman's primary duty. Or is it to incite the loony Left base, which apparently gets a little antsy between Michael Moore mocumentaries?
And since we're debating whether Howard Dean said what he meant to say, perhaps we should consider his own reflections after he had a couple of days to ponder the uproar his remarks generated.
Well, in full-throated Bill Clinton mode (attacking his accusers), Dean said, "You know, I think a lot of this is exactly what the Republicans want, and that's a diversion." He elaborated that Republicans are feigning outrage to divert the public's attention away from their problems on Social Security, gas prices and the war in Iraq.
Does this sound repentant to you? Next time I get caught robbing a bank, I'm going to accuse the police of diverting attention away from their failure to bring white-collar crime under control.
I agree with House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, who properly noted that "Democrats, while quick to publicly distance themselves from Dean, can't hide the fact that their national party chairman remains a sought-after presence in closed-door strategy sessions."
I'm afraid that Democrats know exactly what they're doing with Dean. They've decided, as a matter of strategy, that they have to vilify and berate President Bush and Republicans because it's the only real weapon remaining in their arsenal. For now, they've quit competing in the marketplace of ideas.