So Howard Dean has now been elected the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Dean was a controversial, love-him-or-hate-him figure throughout his candidacy in this past presidential campaign, and the right-wing reaction to his new job is no different.

I admit I’m biased here – I’m a Vermonter, so there’s a sort of state pride involved. I love seeing my former governor in one of the most powerful positions in the Democratic Party.

But I really think Dean was a good choice for the job. Some people might expect him to crash and burn, but I think they should look a little closer.

For example, the idea that he is a flaming liberal is wrong. It’s easy to see where someone casually acquainted with politics might get that idea. After all, he is very aggressive, outspoken and direct, and in the presidential election he was the first choice for a lot of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

But on the issues, it’s impossible to pigeonhole Dean into simple labels. As a testament to the culture of the state that elected him governor, he earned an A rating from the National Rifle Association.

Far from criticizing a governor who managed to balance his state’s budget, conservatives should be emulating him. And civil unions? Hah. With gay marriage being seriously debated, civil unions are now the centrist compromise.

Some people might even think that whatever skills he might have, he is unfit to be Chairman of the DNC because of his habit of verbal gaffes. But there are two problems with that argument. First, anyone who had done a little research would know that the chairman of the DNC is not a spokesman, he is an organizer and fundraiser. It doesn’t matter how many offensive things he says as long as he raises money and gets Democrats on the radar. And the ability to do this is exactly what set his presidential campaign apart from all the rest.

And second, for anyone who thinks that speaking rashly is an obstacle to holding an important political office – it wasn’t Howard Dean who said, “[Our enemies] never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Dean has his flaws, but these aren’t them. So why would anyone say they are? I’ll give his detractors the benefit of the doubt and assume they aren’t stupid. Many of them are clearly very intelligent in other ways.

Maybe they’re just ignorant. Instead of wasting time and thinking about the issues for themselves, they just believe whatever they hear from Fox News or the White House press room. Maybe criticism of Dean isn’t based on arguments, just a random collection of insults pasted together. It’s not technically plagiarism – just laziness.

Levesque can be reached at

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