Matt makes a good point on Dean:

Obviously, anyone in politics needs to pay some attention to what
kind of press they get. Even the importance of this can be overstated,
but the trap you really don't want to fall into is of caring whether or
not this segment of media figures likes or respects you. Some
Republicans (Chuck Hagel) play this game, but most quite wisely do not.
Democrats are hampered in this respect because reporters and Democratic
operatives tend to come from the same social class. But you don't want
to treat reporters like their your friends, or the in-crowd from high
school that might let you sit at the cool table.

That strikes me as quite right.  Moreover, it's an underappreciated truism that what the media says is not what the public hears.  I've a feeling that the message coming through is that Democrats are now throwing punches at Republicans and the party has tired of being a bunch of wimps.  Coming off Social Security and all the rest, that's exactly the right step: we need to prove that this is a new outlook on politics, not an isolated legislative victory.

Now, I remain convinced that Dean should be smarter about what he says.  I'd much prefer if his comments were controversial but true, rather than controversial but only possibly true under an enormously forgiving interpretation.  So I'd like, for instance, to see Dean talk endlessly about what a bunch of lying schmucks inhabit the White House, and when questioned, start talking about the DSM and so forth.  That'd give other Democrats an easy way to answer questions about his comments while still advancing our talking points.  Nevertheless, the very act of creating controversy where a Democrat is in the aggressor's seat is positive for the party, and I'm glad Dean is doing it.