Is Obama deliberately snubbing Dean?

Despite the outgoing DNC chair's successes, the incoming administration hasn't been very welcoming, and people close to him reportedly aren't happy.

Published January 9, 2009 6:10PM (EST)

Politico's Jonathan Martin has an interesting article today about Howard Dean's absence from the announcement of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as Barack Obama's choice to take over the Democratic National Committee.

As noted in this space yesterday, the outgoing chair wasn't at the event because of a scheduling commitment -- specifically, he was working in American Samoa. But Dean insiders are angry; they see the timing as a snub. Martin quotes one as saying, "The snub today was no accident. I guarantee you he would have rescheduled his trip if asked to attend. It’s easy to [screw] over people when you are riding high in the polls, let's see how many people are singing his praises in six months."

Dean insiders say they're puzzled by what they see as the poor treatment accorded to the man who led the Democrats back to power, Martin reports. "It’s the most puzzling thing I’ve ever seen in my life,”a Dean friend told Martin. “I have tried my best through [Obama advisers] Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod and David Plouffe to ask if he ever committed some crime. I don’t get it. He’s been a good soldier.”

They attribute the situation to Obama's new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The two men clashed over strategy for taking back Congress in 2006. But people close to Emanuel are denying there's any trouble. "I talk to Rahm every day,” one friend of his said. "Neither he nor I have mentioned the name of Howard Dean. It’s just not on his radar screen... Rahm never stabs you in the back. He stabs you in front. But I promise that this was accidental."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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