Simon Rocks… Kevin recently made a pretty strong case for Howard Dean as DNC chair. I’d been thinking along the same lines, and would add one more argument to Kevin’s list: that if Democrats don’t pick someone like Dean, who has cred with the crowd, that whole, vital part of the base, which is furious with the party establishment (or what remains of it) could conceivably bolt to some third party.

But Matt Yglesias, responding to Kevin, makes a pretty strong case for Simon Rosenberg, who heads a DC-based fundraising/thinktank called New Democrat Network. Rosenberg is definitely an inside-the-beltway guy, not a household name beyond party circles, and that’s a significant disadvantage compared to Dean. But what’s impressive about Rosenberg is that, even more than Dean, he “gets it.” By that I mean that he understands the power and genius of what conservatives have built for themselves over the years (the think tanks, media outlets, K Street coordination etc.), and the desperate need for progressives to build their own set of oppositional institutions that can craft an interlocking set of penetrating new ideas, messages, and strategies, or else accept Republican control of government for the next 50 years (read his thoughts here). Rosenberg also grasped, quicker than most insiders I know, the value of what was going on with the early Dean and Draft-Clark movements, and reached out to that community with gusto, to the point where, as far as I can tell, he’s garnered significant support among those folks. Finally–and I know this from having talked to him over the years–he really hates the feckless, self-dealing, self-delusional tendencies of the insider class of Democrats among whom he has worked, and isn’t afraid to say so. Indeed, he was one of the few sources who talked to Amy Sullivan on the record for her piece on why Democrats promote loser consultants.

So, while I’m not saying he’ll win, I do think Rosenberg has a shot, and if he does win, I think he’ll shake up the party in the ways it needs shaking up.

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Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.