Out of office with money in the bank

Published February 12, 2005 4:12PM (EST)

In his farewell speech, Terry McAuliffe just told Democrats that their party is in its best shape ever. He's not entirely delusional -- in financial terms, the party is stronger than it's ever been. But money in the bank isn't the same thing as control of the White House, the Senate or the House of Representatives, and McAuliffe seemed to acknowledge that Democrats want more from their party than its own fiscal strength. "It's not about the money or the 30-second TV commercials," McAuliffe said. "It's about standing up and fighting for what we believe in."

Well, it's about that, but it's also about winning elections. On that point, McAuliffe's chairmanship hasn't exactly been an overwhelming success. Instead of going out with a Democrat in the White House, McAuliffe left the stage this morning taunting a Republican president instead. Speaking out to George W. Bush -- who surely wasn't watching -- McAuliffe said: "Don't get too comfortable in that chair." He vowed that Democrats will spend the next four years making Bush "uncomfortable" by challenging him on Social Security, judicial nominees and other issues that divide the party.

It's good to be an irritant. It's better to get your candidates elected. That's the job that McAuliffe leaves for Howard Dean.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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