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In 2003 as I was casting about for a Democratic Party candidate who I could support in a run for the Presidency I came across Howard Dean’s campaign. In May 2003 I showed up at a small dollar fundraiser in Fairway, Kansas and listened to what Howard Dean had to say (by the way, the stenographer was also in attendance). By that summer I was hip deep in keeping up with the campaign and attending meetings. By the end of December 2003 I was a volunteer “troll hunter” on the Forum for America. By the time the campaign was over I had sent almost 1000 hand written letters to primary voters across the country and contributed a pile of cash to his campaign. I stayed on for close to fifteen months before the Democracy in for America folks in Vermont and I parted ways. By that time Howard Dean was the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Yep, that Fifty State Strategy worked in 2006 and 2008, but oh, the irony:

…On November 7, 2006, all the top Democrats graced the stage of the Hyatt Regency ballroom in Washington for a big election-night victory party. All of them, that is, except Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The party leadership had accused Dean of spending too much money on rebuilding moribund parties in red states and not enough on key Congressional races where Democratic pickups could strengthen their narrow majority. The results that night, as Democrats recaptured Congress, seemed to settle the argument in Dean’s favor. But key Democrats, including Representative Rahm Emanuel, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, weren’t satisfied, and Dean opted to stay away from the celebration, doing TV interviews instead….

…And then the effort to marginalize Dean collapsed…

Jerome Armstrong at MyDD:

On the blow off of Dean

…Well, look. The numbers of us online and active that were around when Dean was big, in the ’03-’06 era, are a small minority compared with the numbers now engaged– even within the blogosphere. We know what Dean did, and that without his leadership and embracement of the netroots people-powered 50 state strategy, victory in ’06 would never have happened. It did, and it laid the groundwork for Obama’s in in 2008– that’s his legacy, and its a fine one….

And this is what Howard Dean said in November 2008:

A blogger conference call with Howard Dean, part 2

…Question: Hi Governor Dean. I was just wondering, you know, as you’re preparing to move on from the DNC if you, you know, have any preferences as to who you’d like to be as the next chairman, and, and the advice for that person, and, and also what you see as the future of the fifty state strategy under your successor and your own personal plans for [crosstalk]…

Howard Dean: Well, you know, I, I’ve done a transition memo for the Obama folks, so I know I’m not going to publicly say what’s in the transition memo, but I think I can broadly outline. First of all, the Obama campaign used a fifty state strategy in order to win this election. He, he had an office in places like Utah, which everybody knew we weren’t gonna win. So it’s extraordinary what he has done, not just for the country, but the Democratic Party. And I have no doubt that that will continue with the new chair. I don’t have an advice for a specific person for the new chair. I do believe that the party gets run differently when you have an incumbent Democratic president. I think he ought to have a person who’s very loyal to him as the executive director, because that’s where the decisions are really going to be made. And he will run the party, through his people, for the next four years, and hopefully the next eight years. And I think I guess that’s about all I can say, but I have every confidence that the fifty state strategy will continue and the map will be expanded even further in 2010 and 2012…

[emphasis added]

By all means smile, pat the guy on the back, and shake his hand. Don’t tell him, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

Oh, the irony. Right, Tara?