Republicans who think he's a mad socialist or a nutcase are celebrating the likely selection of Howard Dean as head of the Democratic National Committee. Not so fast.
Dean got a bad press mostly because (a) the Dems DC Establishment types early on were afraid to oppose the Iraq war, if only because most of them had voted to give the President the power to wage it; and (b) The press blew The Scream up into something much bigger than it was.
Dean had one great virtue as a candidate compared to the others. He wasn't afraid to take on the Republicans, right or wrong.
But he's not a nut case, and is far more thoughtful and courageous than the Kerrys of the world. The trick will be to challenge W. and the Republicans without going far left, and without sounding like Bush Lite, tea to weak to stimulate the base or the electorate. Dean's not an extremist, he's very articulate, and he's not a shrinking violet.
So I think he may be more effective as a party chair than the GOP thinks. If it can be done, I think he will mount an intelligent challenge to Bush.
A vigorous opposition, if it's not completely bonkers, is good for the country. "Throw the rascals out. Long live the new rascals!" has to be a real possibility if political hardening of the arteries is to be avoided.