Among the many classes of comments that are being made about the recent Dean fest are what I call the "Yes, But..." group. These are people who generally agree with those who say that Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot with their public criticisms of Dean, but they just aren't willing to buy into the idea that Dean's comments aren't worthy of public criticism.
One of the best examples of this genre (best in the sense of I like it even though I don't entirely agree with it) is this post by billmon. He makes the valid argument that Dean's most recent comments aren't really helpful to Democrats because they appear to be striking wide of the mark (it is much to easy to distort his "White Christians" comment as a disparagement of "White Christians" instead of the Republican Party). I think it is safe to say that billmon thinks Democrats should be more fiery in their attacks on Republicans. But they should make it clear just who and what they are attacking. Dean has a habit of getting on a roll and swinging a bit wild.
I agree with that criticism.
I suspect Dean would as well.
But I still assert that, in this recent brohaha, the damage caused by Dean was small compared to the damage caused by Biden, et. al who gave the media the perfect excuse to blow this story up from a minor squabble into a full blown frenzy.
Dean, despite his foibles, has a better appreciation of the ways of the media than do his critics within his own party. Dean understands well that his comments can be distorted and twisted into sounding like something they are not. But he also understands that his comments, if directed against other members of his party, would be magnified 10-fold (after all, he got his start on the national stage by criticizing his party (but he did so without using Republican talking points)).
Dean saying something controversial is not news.
Republicans getting publicy upset that Dean said something controversial is not news.
Democrats getting publicly upset that Dean said something controversial is news.
It is Dean's obligation to exercise a little more swing control.
It is his party's obligation not to validate Republican talking points by using them against their fellow Dems.
Can we talk about something important now?