While Reid and Pelosi and Rahm and Chuck might bitch about Dean 'not playing the traditional party chairman's role', where were they in February of 2005 when the elections were held? Why did they let uber-local pol Donnie Fowler become a near kingmaker? Why didn't they endorse or get involved in a serious way? There was an election for this position, a position that was clearly going to control hundreds of millions of dollars and party resources in the next few years. Was this election below them? Apparently. Well Dean was elected and he is doing what he promised.
As for Scheiber's article on Dean, the piece's thesis, once you cut through the weird overuse of messianic language, is that Dean is hostile to big donors, overly-focused on a 50-state strategy, and certain portions of the party are nervous about this. No real surprise. I'd work up some concern, but given that the Democratic Party easily survived the constraints of McCain-Feingold, if Dean ends up raising a bit less than Terry McAuliffe did, I've trouble believing that the difference won't be made up elsewhere. Add in that online and small-donor fundraising will likely be far more advanced come 2008 Democrats should have little trouble reaching the relatively low saturation point (above which additional cash hardly matters). Folks will remember that John Kerry, now whining about how little he had to spend, finished the election with $15 million in the bank.
Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see Dean do a bit better with the large donors -- his 50-state strategy could only benefit from more money -- but Scheiber's article strikes me as a frustrated bellow from sources put out by Dean's new methods. Had McAuliffe's tenure gone better, I might give them more credence, but given the fortunes of the Democrats under his direction, I'm more than willing to give Dean's new ideas a chance. Indeed, the interesting article here would be the inverse of Scheber's: what does the 50-state strategy look like? How's it progressing? And what sort of chance does it stand at success? I've already heard that Dean's doing the old things wrong, now I'm interested in knowing if he's doing the new ones right.