Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, welcomed Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont who once seemed his chief political roadblock, to his headquarters here on Wednesday with an ovation by scores of staff members. The two men talked for an hour behind closed doors, guarded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents — but not before Mr. Kerry hugged Dr. Dean and shook his hand for the cameras.It's good to hear this... really, really good. I had been worried about Dean deciding to "take his football and go home", but in retrospect I probably shouldn't have been. Both Dean and Kerry know that the paramount concern is unseating Bush, and I think Dean can take (and undoubtedly will) take a lot of credit for energizing the party base, effectively marshalling Internet Democrats, and showing that vigorous partisanship can be both effective and financially rewarding. There's been a lot of carping about how Kerry is "sailing through" the primaries, but I think the reason he's sailing through is largely because he learned the lesson that Dean was teaching. Having learned that lesson, he's overcome the chief flaw in his old electoral strategy- his former unwillingness to take a stand against Bush.
Dr. Dean made no official endorsement of Mr. Kerry but Democrats close to both men said they expect it to come before the end of the month, quashing any concerns in the party that Dr. Dean would not help the ticket.
"During the campaign, we often focused on what divided us, but the truth is we have much more in common, beginning with our fervent desire to send George Bush back to Crawford, Tex., in November," Dr. Dean said in a statement after the session. "I will work closely with John Kerry to make sure we beat George Bush in November and turn our country around."
Plus, Dean will no doubt remember that he was the candidate of choice for a lot of Democrats, and that he probably would have been the candidate had taking Bush down not been seen as so vitally important. Assuming that he'd get a plum post, as Oliver speculates, the good Doctor will have done quite nicely for himself.
It's too bad that we'll never know how he would have fared, though.