Howard Dean is at the bead shop*.

So. For the second election cycle in a row, the Democratic Party has whaled upon the Republican Party in Congress. While not quite as bad this year as the last time – we were actually able to knock down a couple of the Democrats’ absolute worst, most corrupt representatives – it was still a shellacking, and it was coupled with our losing the White House. And probably the largest chunk of that credit on the Congressional level goes to former DNC chairman Howard Dean, who pushed a 50-state strategy in the face of widespread skepticism – including, famously, that of former DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel.

So where is Dean, now that his party is victorious and his method vindicated? You may not believe me, even after I tell you:

The conspicuous absence of Howard Dean from Thursday’s press conference announcing Tim Kaine’s appointment as Democratic National Committee chair was no accident, according to Dean loyalists.

Rather, they say, it was a reflection of the lack of respect accorded to the outgoing party chairman by the Obama team.

Despite leading the party in consecutive triumphant election cycles – as well as through off-year races like when Kaine was elected Virginia governor in 2005 – Dean has become all but invisible since Election Day, passed over for the Cabinet position he coveted and apparently not in line for another administration post.

Indeed, when President-elect Barack Obama introduced Kaine at party headquarters Thursday afternoon, Dean was 7,023 miles and seven time zones away, closer to French Polynesia than Washington, doing party grunt work in American Samoa.

American Samoa. American Samoa.

That’s just funny. Not to mention virtually impossible to top: what can I write that beats that? Howard Dean spent four years channeling his inner anger and converting it into a workable election strategy – one that Obama followed to get the nomination – and his reward is to go do political scutwork in American Samoa. There’s a cruelty there that fascinates, in a sort of iconic “No matter what, you will never belong to the crowd that matters” sort of way. Even the destination’s name seems to be part of the humiliation. No, really, it is. Go ahead. Say it out loud. “American Samoa.” Put a brief pause after “American” and extra emphasis on the middle syllable in “Samoa.”

American. SamOa.

I just chuckle every time I say that.

Moe Lane

*Explanation of title found here.

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