Screaming at Dean

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 20, 2005; 9:03 AM

Howard Dean is in hot water again.

The right-wing blogosphere is after him.

Bob Novak is after him.

Left-wingers aren't really defending his latest outburst.

And he faces Tim Russert on Sunday.

So much for keeping a low profile.

Actually, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee has managed to stay off the media's radar screen since blowing away his rivals in the party election earlier this year. He hasn't been out making policy pronouncements, leaving that to the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

But the former Vermont governor hasn't entirely lost his penchant for eye-catching (or eye-rolling) comments. This was the rap against him when he jumped from his presidential campaign into the DNC race, that he would force the party to clean up his rhetorical messes. Supporters, however, said Dean would bring new energy, Internet savvy and fundraising prowess to the party.

I think it's safe to say the Republicans would love to run against Howard Dean in '06, just as the Dems would love to run against Tom DeLay. Dean had probably hoped that a stint as party chief would change his 2004 image of left-wing bomb thrower into something closer to the moderate governor he was in Montpelier.

But the right is clearly monitoring his every adjective and is determined to make him pay a price (not that Republicans would ever use over-the-top language, of course).

The latest assault began with the Novak column:

"After Howard Dean last weekend declared Tom DeLay ought to be in jail, a longtime Democratic operative told me the party's national chairman had momentarily ripped off his muzzle but that it soon would be restored. My source erred, however, in believing that Dean ever had been muzzled. It's just that nobody has paid much attention to his rants.

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