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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Carville and Dean

I was out of pocket travelling most of today, and initially missed the brouhaha over the alleged plot to get rid of Howard Dean as DNC chairman. Having now read my emails; the Ryan Lizza Plank post that seems to be the source for James Carville’s suggestion that Dean be replaced by Harold Ford; and the angry reaction of the blogosphere, my first thought is:Lordy, lordy. I’ve always liked Carville, as a guy with impressive strategic and tactical instincts, and impeccable partisan credentials. And I also like Harold Ford, who I suspect was as surprised as anyone by Carville’s dropping of his name. But this is a really bad idea, at a really bad time. In the wake of Tuesday’s victory, party committee chieftain Rahm Emanuel and Howard Dean appear to have buried the hatchet, and there’s a general sense among most Democrats that they both did their very different jobs during the campaign well enough. We do not need any purges at present, thank you. Since I’m sure it’s a matter of time before someone suggests the DLC is behind the Plot Against Dean (Markos has already indicated that his post-election attitude of sweetness and light and unity does not extend to the DLC, for whom he holds an especially personal, intense and consistent hostility), allow me to say that Dean’s long-range 50-state-strategy, and the broader insistence of the netroots that Democrats should not write off big swatches of the country, reflects what the DLC has been saying for eons. Hell, it was exactly what the DLC (and most explicitly, PPI president Will Marshall) argued for in the wake of the 2004 elections. There are undoubtedly legitimate differences of opinion about exactly how and how far to “expand the battlefield,” but this is actually one political issue where the netroots and the DLC tend to agree, against the ancient habits of the party professionals, who so often fight the last war in the narrowest possible trenches.In any event, James should get off the purge-Dean bandwagon, if indeed that’s what he’s riding, and focus his considerable talents on the very different challenges Democrats will face in 2008. I see nothing other than good things in the rear-view mirror of the 2006 elections.

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