My biggest surprise during the short, happy life of the Joe Biden for President website wasn’t the number of snarky e-mails I got from Republicans (just a handful, actually); it was the jaw-dropping volume of truly mean-spirited stuff that came pouring in from purported supporters of Howard Dean. And while most of it wasn’t nearly as polite as the letter Josh Marshall posted yesterday, it tended to carry the same basic message: You are part of an evil cabal that’s trying to destroy my candidate, and if your dastardly plot succeeds, I’m not going to vote in November. So there!

Now, I know the Dean campaign isn’t responsible for this stuff, and that most Dean supporters don’t like it any more than I do. Still, it’s really dumb, and the Dean movement should be doing more to put a stop to it.

Yes, they should put a stop to this, but unfortunately Howard Dean himself seems to be doing just the opposite. Check out this excerpt from an LA Weekly story about Dean, where he’s musing about how hard it will be for Wesley Clark to enter the race so late:

“It’s going to be incredibly hard. I mean, we’ve already got 39,000 people working for us all around the country . . . I really do believe ? and I think about this ? I want to get this nomination, and if I don’t . . . these kids are not transferrable. I can’t just go out and say, ‘Okay, so I didn’t win the nomination, so go ahead and vote for the Democrats.’ They’re not going to suddenly just go away. That’s not gonna happen.”

He can’t tell them to just “go ahead and vote for the Democrats”? I thought this was the guy who came from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party?

I haven’t made up my mind who to support yet, and I’ve got nothing against either Dean or Clark or anyone else. But while I realize that candidates often play footsie with the idea of supporting whoever wins the nomination ? the usual response is something like “I’m not even thinking about that now because I fully expect to win” ? isn’t it going a little too far to directly say that you’re not going to ask your supporters to support the Democrats in November?

Jack, who has decided to support Dean, has some additional thoughts on this, and they sound right to me. The Dean folks ought to be paying more attention to this stuff.

UPDATE: In comments, several people have mentioned that Dean has previously stated that he will support the eventual nominee. I still find his comments here a little less supportive of the party than I’d like, but that’s a fair point. Consider my criticism partially retracted.

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