From the Ho-Ho-Horse’s Mouth

An ancient and long irrelevant argument among Democrats may have been resolved today.

In the places where we still re-litigate the 2004 Democratic presidential nominating contest–i.e., in the progressive blogosphere–many veterans of the Howard Dean campaign still contend their candidate was “taken down” by a shadowy cabal of Establishment figures, probably orchestrated by the (bwahahaha!) DLC. That happened, it was said, most obviously in the wildly exaggerated coverage of The Scream, but perhaps even earlier in the shadowy ads (actually, best as I could tell, run by friends of the equally doomed Dick Gephardt) in Iowa showing HoDean in an earlier incarnation praising NAFTA and criticizing entitlement spending.

The counter-argument is that Dean lost Iowa because the orange-hat freaks volunteering for his campaign freaked out the local Democrats (they didn’t exactly get Clean for Dean), and then he flamed out afterwards not just because of The Scream, but because his campaign had spent all its abundant money on incautious investments in much later contests that he would not survive to contest.

So there’s the dispute: Dean was politically assassinated; Dean stumbled and fell.

Here’s what HoHo himself said in an interview with Greg Sargent published today, when asked about Bernie Sanders:

People like Bernie are always attractive, as I was. They speak truth to power. The problem with candidates like that — and like me — is that as you get closer to election time, you’re more careful about how your vote’s going to be used. You’re going to tend to want to see somebody who you think looks presidential as the nominee of your party. That’s one of the things that sank me. I knew that as an insurrectionist, I wasn’t going to get elected by my party to be the nominee. I just had a lot of trouble turning a corner from being an insurrectionist to being somebody who people could see as president.

I’ve always liked Howard Dean, even though I didn’t support his presidential campaign, and I especially liked his “50-state strategy” as DNC chair, which clearly should have been not only continued but massively expanded. I like him even more for refusing to play the victim in terms of what happened to his own wildly successful, then disappointing, bid for immortality.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.