Howard Dean Pats Himself on the Back

Howard Dean released the Democratic National Committee’s annual report today—hyping so much “good news” that I actually thought that I was reading an annual report from the Republican National Committee.

After regaining my senses, my first thought was to call ex-party chairman Terry McAuliffe and ask him to critique the document. After all, Dean takes a few shots at McAuliffe:

When I took this job a year ago this week, there was a lot of work to do. But since then we have racked up major election victories, broken fundraising records, and put professional organizers on the ground in every state.

A year ago today, hundreds of thousands of Democrats endorsed a simple plan to reform our party from the bottom up. We have put together a brief report for you on the progress we’ve made together.

For starters, let’s call this document what it really is: a fundraising tool. Only an idiot wouldn’t be able to recognize that. Click on the link from Dean’s e-mail and it takes you directly to a webpage that asks for a donation.

Once you get past that, here are a few of the notable things Dean is bragging about:

Record Numbers of New Donors: The number of committed monthly donors more the doubled in 2005, thanks to the Democracy Bonds program. In addition, the number of major donors to the DNC has more than tripled since 2003. Overall, more than 584,000 people contributed to the DNC in 2005 — an increase of more than 90,000 people compared to 2003.

Overhaul of The official DNC website,, received a complete overhaul, making the site more dynamic resource portal for state parties, Democratic organizations, and Democratic activists around the world. The web site has made the Democratic Party more transparent, more accessible, and more empowering for ordinary people than ever before.

Online organizing: Governor Dean has committed the DNC to integrating technology seamlessly with the party’s organizing operation. He continues to break new ground not only in fundraising, but in developing new and innovative ways for ordinary people to take part in our political process and organize in their communities. The web site has hosted thousands of events and been the vehicle for millions of independent actions by ordinary Americans to shape our political process, including over a thousand Organizing Kickoff meetings nearly a year before the 2006 midterm elections.

Looks great on paper. But how much did Dean’s DNC spend to make all these changes? National Journal’s Hotline on Call asks that question:

But even Dean’s admirers, including many who worked on his presidential campaign, cannot understand why the DNC spent so much money up front — checks come in, checks go out. Why devote hundreds of thousands of dollars staffing up in Idaho when the money could be stored for a better coordinated campaign in, say, Michigan or Ohio. Or transfered to the DCCC for an IE? Or why did the DNC end the year with barely $5M in the bank — a scary figure even to some DNC insiders?

Dean has managed to keep himself out the news more than I thought he would. But 2006 will be a crucial year. With Republicans’ midterm expectations so low, if Democrats don’t gain seats in the Senate or House, there might be a coup at the DNC.