Saturday, November 11, 2006

So, Howard Dean gets fired?

Right after the Democrats took both the House and the Senate, former Clinton advisor James Carvilles wants to replace Howard Dean as the head of the Democratic National Committee. I'm not sure if this is an example of Carville's insanity or his huge grapefruits.

The conflict here is this: The D.C. Democratic establishment was never happy with Dean being elected to chair the party. Dean's support came from the grass roots and the establishment preferred other candidates. Dean then decidedn to try to build a long-term Democratic majority by pursuing a "50 state" startegy where the party would run candidates even in districts and states where it seemed likely that the Demcorats would lose. Dean argued that you have to not only win the election at hand but that you have to defeat the notion that there are elections that Democrats just can't win. You beat that notion by running with strength. The Rahm Immanuel/Chuck Shumer/Bruce Reed strategy was to devote all resources to the most likely wins and the eke out a majority right now.

Dean's strategy paid off in the short-term, because some entrenched Republicans like Tom Delay fell to scandal. The Dean strategy also paid off because, though the Demcorats won only a one vote majority in the Senate and a slim majority in the House, the gains were larger than they would have been had more risk candidates been ignored.

Dean is often portrayed as a firebrand and a loose cannon, but he's really thinking long-term. Because of his influence, Democrats won larger majorities than they would have under the Emmanuel/Shumer/Reed strategy and Democrats managed to make losing races more competitive than people might have expected. The 50 state strategy also negated the Republican money advantage by forcing that side to devote funds to races that would have been locks for them.

I don't happen to agree with the Emmanuel/Shumer/Reed strategy, but those three men helped deliver the Democrats a win. So did Dean. Given the results of this week's election, why talk about replacing any of them? Perhaps a national strategy that deals with the tension between the short and long term prospects for Democrats is the way to go?


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