Former DNC chair and Hillary Clinton strategist Terry McAuliffe strongly hinted to CBS’ Bob Schieffer that Howard Dean and the DNC botched the handling of Florida and Michigan yesterday. In the Face the Nation interview, Schieffer challenged McAuliffe on his own threats to both states during his tenure as DNC chair, but McAuliffe pointed out that the Republicans handled it much more wisely than Mr Yeeeargh:

Schieffer’s trying to play gotcha with McAuliffe here, and he’s correct in his assertion at the end that McAuliffe’s political interest plays largely into this analysis. Schieffer misses the point, though, and McAuliffe has this correct.

The DNC and its chair went overboard in disciplining the two states, creating a mess that has enabled Hillary Clinton to continue her campaign againt Barack Obama and cover herself in the mantle of Florida 2000. She can now claim to champion the disenfranchised voters who went to the polls in good faith, while the Democratic establishment has to now argue for disenfranchisement. It makes a mockery of their rhetoric after the debacle in Florida during the 2000 general election, when they fashioned themselves as the defender of the individual voter (while attempting to block military ballots).

Republicans avoided the problem while still disciplining the states that attempted to hijack the primary schedule. They cut their delegate counts by half, diluting their impact on the nomination and on the platform and rules votes during the upcoming convention. By doing so, they completely avoided the credentials fight that the Democrats must now resolve.

Dean has proven himself completely inept at chairing a national party. Thankfully, he didn’t get the chance to demonstrate his incompetence in the White House, and after this primary-season catastrophe for the Democrats, he won’t likely get another chance to prove it again in an executive role on any level.