Matt Bai is some idiot who writes for the NYT, and this is his (abbreviated) take on the candidacy of Howard Dean:
[W]hat Dr. Dean and much of the news media now claim as his political legacy — using the Internet to raise money, forcing his party toward confrontation — is merely tactical. As LaFollette could have told him, a truly transcendent political campaign has to be rooted in something deeper than fervent rhetoric and small policy variations. It has to be daring enough to survive the candidacy itself.
In the end, the tragedy of Howard Dean's impressive grass-roots campaign is that he will be remembered not for any lasting reform agenda, but for the missed opportunity to create one.
Smug, dismissive, and just plain wrong. At a minimum, Dean changed the tone of this election, reinvigorated the Democrats as an opposition party, and defanged the charge that criticism of the CIC is necessarily unpatriotic. Aside from all the cash that he raised and all the energy he created.
...why the dismissal of these accomplishments as "merely tactical?" I think reestablishing the semblance of a two-party system in America may well be "transcendant." Not that Bai really gives us any idea what that word means to him.
More importantly, isn't Bai just a little too conclusory about how ephemeral the Dean organization will be? We have no idea what will happen with the mailing list, and the MoveOn meetings as a return to localized political communities, and the money, and the energy. No idea. Bai doesn't either, the snarky monkey.
The Left Coaster is far better on Dean's legacy:
Howard Dean has often been labeled the "prophet of rage." It's certainly true that he was an angry man -- angry at Bush, the war, the budget deficit, the mushrooming unemployment cloud, at all things that had gone badly wrong in three short years. This anger hit a chord with the popular imagination; dissatisfaction with Bush was high and Dean was the perfect protest candidate. Dean successfully channeled the anger of millions who felt apathetic and disenfranchised. He awoke voters and gave voice to the legions who intuitively questioned the policies of the present administration. He introduced serious dialogue to an administration whose every effort has been to deceive, distract and manipulate the masses. By talking about the misguided war in Iraq, the shameful lack of jobs, the destructive obese deficits, and the massive increase of our $7 trillion national debt, he caused America to question whether George W. Bush is the right man for the job.
Read it all.