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McAuliffe Nostalgia

Let me steal the opening from Ruth Marcus' column on Alberto Gonzales yesterday and repackage it for my own purposes:

Howard Dean is achieving something remarkable, even miraculous, as DNC Chairman: He is making Terry McAuliffe look good.

Surveying the wreckage of Dean's latest imbecilic utterings, grotesquely overwraught analogies, and phony calls for unity, one really has to wonder: has there been a greater buffoon leading one of the two major parties in recent history?

Republicans remain thrilled by Dean's rise, of course, not only because he has an uncanny ability to make the Democratic party look bad with cringe-inducing headlines on a fairly regular basis, but also because he's created such a deep division within the party itself.

The bitter feud between Dean and DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel and over Dean's rapid cash burn rate and his insistence of pursuing a 50-state strategy at the expense of allocating all available resources toward this November is well known. And as Jay Cost wrote last week, with Democrats enjoying strong fundraising and a favorable national political climate, "the timing of this feud could not be worse."

Time will tell whether Dean's 50-state strategy turns out to be a smart, long-term investment or a collosal waste of resources. Much of the outcome will be determined by execution, and frankly Dean's track record in that department doesn't instill much confidence. As we learned shortly after his presidential bid imploded, not only was Dean fabulously undisciplined as a candidate, he was a terrible manager as well, and behind the scenes his campaign was an "utterly poisonous" mix of bickering and backbiting.

Luckily for Democrats, Dean is but one of three links in the party's '06 election chain, and the other two (Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel) are exceedingly disciplined, focused, and have put the party in the best possible position to make gains and perhaps recapture one or even both chambers of Congress this fall. But you know what they say: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If Democrats somehow manage to blow another opportunity this November, Schumer and Emanuel will get their share of criticism, to be sure, but expect most of it to flow to the trio's weak link, Howard Dean.