DEAN DESERVES HIS DUE…. Someone’s going to have to explain to me why Howard Dean isn’t treated better.

Barack Obama is set to host a press conference with incoming Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine on Thursday in what will ostensibly mark the beginning of a new era for the party and the committee.

Noticeably absent from the affair will be the individual who symbolized the old regime.

Former Gov. Howard Dean is not on the list of attendees for the event, a noticeable nonattendance for someone largely credited with revitalizing the Democratic Party ranks and contributing — whether politically or through his 50-State Strategy – to major electoral gains.

It is unclear whether Dean’s absence reflects a snub or a scheduling conflict.

Look, Dean has earned some genuine respect. He was a successful five-term governor, the chairman of the National Governors Association, and a ground-breaking presidential candidate. He then became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, faced massive institutional resistance, but instituted a wildly-successful national strategy, which helped bring the party to its strongest position in decades. Even his critics, even some Republicans, are giving him his due.

With that in mind, if you’re going to have an event to introduce a new DNC chair, the least you can do is have Dean around and sing his praises. Yes, he’s traveling today, but a) the event could have been scheduled for a different day; and b) Dean would have rearranged his schedule if asked.

I can kinda sorta understand not asking Dean to lead HHS. And I realize he probably wouldn’t have been the ideal Surgeon General. But leaving him out of today’s event at the DNC is very hard to understand.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Obama is deliberately snubbing Dean. From what I hear, the two get along very well, and Obama has said more than once that Dean’s 50-state strategy laid the groundwork for his own bottom-up presidential campaign. For that matter, I can’t think of a reason why Tim Kaine would harbor any animosity towards Dean.

So, what explains today’s Dean-less event? I’m at a loss.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.