A feisty but linguistically correct Howard Dean told his DNC executive committee on Saturday that Democrats were more ethical than Republicans and that they looked more like America. He stopped short of saying Republicans hadn't worked a day in their lives and that they were a white Christian party. And while he attacked Tom DeLay for advocating excessive government interference in private family matters, he refrained from saying he should go directly to jail.
The past week has been one of damage control for Dean who has been treading carefully, knowing that the gaffe police are on patrol. His advisers put him on the slow road back to the national media, sending him off to red states to talk about rebuilding state parties and test driving a new message to friendly local reporters. Then, just when they thought he had moved beyond the scream, Howard let Howard be Howard again.
Establishment Democrats have been unsure that Dean was the right man for the DNC job, but he convinced them that he was all about nuts and bolts and that he had a track record of new ways of reaching voters and raising money. Dean cut a deal with congressional leaders that making policy was their province.
The problem is that there is a link between raising money and policy, and the motivation for small donors who invest their $25 in politics has a lot to do with issues and causes.
Dean burst onto the national scene in 2003 as the voice of anti-establishment Democrats on the Iraq war. In the speech that catapulted him to national prominence he blasted Democratic leaders "supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq" and claimed that he represented the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. He rocked the hall with those words, his presidential campaign took on huge momentum and his Internet money started to flow.