The mote in Dean's eye
The two best comments I've seen on the recent "problems" with Dean's comments come from Oliver Willis and The Carpetbagger. The later gives a long, thoughtful analysis of Dean's comments and makes the valid point that Dean was hired to be a pugilist its just that sometimes his blows hit below the belt.
The question for Dems is how they should react to this? A simple condemnation will not help matters as it will just perpetuate both the "let's you and him fight" mode of the press and the image that Democrats are uncomfortable with "being real". But simply ignoring it isn't an option if the media keeps bringing it up.
Biden, Edwards and Richardson handled it differently with varying degrees of success. Biden took the strongest condemnation approach and, I think, caused more harm than Dean's initial comments. Edwards was a bit careless in his "Dean doesn't speak for the party" comment but quickly stomped on the controversy by strongly coming out with a statement saying that Dean and he were on the same page in their criticisms, even if they use different words to express their opinions. Richardson, perhaps learning from Edwards mistake, took this "same thoughts, different words" approach in his comments (though that hasn't prevent the press from trying to paint his comments as equivalent to Biden's).
My thoughts are along a similar line. I wouldn't use the same language that Dean is using, but I understand his sentiment and agree with it: the Republican party is dominated by people who don't appreciate the economic problems ordinary working Americans face. Their approach to leadership is to play to people's insecurities and moral anxieties rather than to actually address the causes of those anxieties (condemn the perverting of American culture, but don't actually DO anything that might have an impact on the purveryors of that culture, who just happen to be major Republican backers).
Which brings me to Oliver Willis, who, I think, has the best, short take on this:
Ok, this does certify as a silly thing said by Howard Dean. Essentially accurate, but silly.
Not as dumb as sending our troops to die in Iraq, however.
Oliver agrees with the sentiment that the blow is a bit off, even if the essence of Dean's point is correct. But he quickly pivots with the truth: nothing Dean has said approaches any of the many outrageous things that Bush has said and done.
Dean is a mote. Bush is a forest!