I've always maintained that Dean is far more politically cunning and intelligent than his opponents are willing to give him credit for.
Case in point is his confederate flag "gaffe", which hardly sounds like the thing to say but uneloquent as he was in making his point, Dean once again hit the nail on the head. Joan Walsh over at Salon gets it:
Dean put his finger on something crucial that explains the Democrats' lack of nationwide mass appeal: While they correctly addressed the problems of racism from the 1960s on, they lost sight of the issues of class, which don't always dovetail with race. Defending his remarks yesterday in Iowa, Dean explained: "What Franklin Roosevelt did was to get the Southern white working class to vote with the Southern African-American working class," said Dean, about the former Democratic president. "The only time we're ever going to make progress in this country is when black people and white people and brown people work together and put race aside." I happen to believe that, too. It's disturbing if other candidates don't.
If there was any political subtext or hidden calculation behind Dean's remarks -- and I have no evidence there was -- my guess is that he knew his candor would trigger his opponents' inner scolds. And then, while they scrambled to proclaim their political correctness, Dean would once again look like the plain-talking guy who takes risks, who says what's on his mind, who leads and doesn't merely follow. Whether Dean planned it or not, his rivals -- predictably -- took the bait.
And there you have it.