Come on, join the bandwagon for Howard Dean for president. OK, the crowd so far is small, but once he starts to get the credit he deserves for last week's Democratic takeover of the House and Senate and major gains in statehouses and state legislatures, the bandwagon will be off and running. Here's what we learned last week: Dean's not in over his head at the Democratic National Committee and, in fact, may turn out to be one of the best chairs ever. And his 50-state strategy, which was sneered at in Washington, worked.
"That 50-state strategy has worked to revitalize the Democratic Party," cheered New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
When I first met the guy in 2003, I thought he was just a bit too smug and know-it-all. Imagine my surprise when he surged to the top of the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. The scream and Sen. John Kerry stopped that. Well, I've been in three interviews with Dean in the past few months, and he's not only a changed man but one smart politician and strategist.
Just consider: Instead of hiring lots of consultants for advice on how to remake the party, Dean studied winning campaigns and even the GOP for ideas, adopted the good ones, and helped win Democratic victories in red states. Along the way, he learned how to get along with party elders, even those who constantly attack him, all the while traveling the nation and building a base for the partyand himself. He says he's not running for president, but I bet that if the Democrats fail to capture the White House in two years, he'll have his supporters pushing him to make a move for 2012.