Jonathan Chait, whose loathing of President Bush inspired Trunk to coin the term “Chaitred,” thinks that the Democrats’ selection of Howard Dean as head of the Democratic National Committee is “suicidal.” Chait reasons that, in the present political situation, the DNC chair has two jobs: to transmit the party’s message and to organize things. In Chait’s view, Dean lacks “message discipine” and is a “horrible manager.”
Chait’s fears strike me as vastly exaggerated. The Democrats’ message in 2006 will be fashioned and transmitted mostly by its congressional leaders. In any event, judging by what I’ve seen so far, it’s not clear that Dean is a worse messenger than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. In 2008, the message will be delivered by the presidential nominee, probably Hillary Clinton.
Some say that, by becoming DNC chair, Dean has taken himself out of the 2008 presidential field. If true, this represents a plus for the Democrats. Dean’s candidacy hurt John Kerry by forcing him off of his (fake) message, and it could do the same to Hillary Clinton. However, I doubt that Dean has taken himself out of play in 2008. Should the Democrats do well in 2006 (and they very well may), Dean will likely use this as his calling-card for 2008.
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