DEAN BOWS OUT….Earlier this morning I read in the LA Times that Howard Dean was quitting the race. Sort of:

A top aide said early this morning that while Dean was going to halt campaigning, he would keep his name on the ballot to allow supporters to vote for him in upcoming primaries and to have a say at the Democratic National Convention in July.

I was all ready to write a post about what a bad decision this was, but luckily I had to go off to the dentist instead. When I got back the news had been updated. Apparently he’s not actively trying to remove his name from upcoming ballots, but he is definitely quitting :

In a speech that was posted on his campaign Web site before scheduled delivery in front of supporters in Burlington, Dean said, “Today my candidacy may come to an end — but our campaign for change is not over.”

After thanking supporters for helping to build “the greatest grassroots campaign presidential politics has ever seen,” Dean announced: “In the coming weeks, we will be launching a new initiative to continue the campaign you helped begin….There is much work still to be done, and today is not an end — it is just the beginning.”

Good for him. I was never very enthused by Dean’s candidacy, but there’s no question that he played a huge role in putting some backbone into the Democratic field, and I honor him for that.

On a personal level, of course, it must be devastating to come from nowhere the way he did, become the undisputed frontrunner, and then suddenly collapse. I hope he recovers from that and that his “new initiative” is as big a contribution to the upcoming campaign as his own candidacy was to the primaries. Ditto for Wesley Clark, who I hope stays active in Democratic politics and becomes a real force.

So the bottom line is this: Thanks, Howard. You weren’t my candidate, but I sure appreciate everything you did. If we win in November, a big part of the victory will be yours.

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