State Democratic leaders are saying Howard Dean, the party chairman, is not receiving the credit he deserves for the triumph.
Offering a rather different view, two leading party strategists rebuked Mr. Dean on Wednesday, saying the Democrats could have captured 40 House seats rather than 29 had Mr. Dean bowed to demands by Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, leader of the effort to recapture the House, to put more money into Congressional races.
“I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its incompetence,” one strategist, James Carville, said of Mr. Dean.
So it was that Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster, and Mr. Carville used the forum of a Monitor Breakfast, a gathering of newsmakers and reporters, to say Mr. Dean wasted an opportunity to make historic gains by refusing to take resources out of his effort to build up parties in all 50 states and put them into Congressional races.
Mr. Greenberg said that Republicans held 14 seats by a single percentage point and that a small investment by Mr. Dean could have put Democrats into a commanding position for the rest of the decade.
“There was a missed opportunity here,” he said. “I’ve sat down with Republican pollsters to discuss this race: They believe we left 10 to 20 seats on the table.”
Mr. Carville, whose close ties to former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York have prompted speculation that he is attacking Mr. Dean on their behalf, said the Democratic National Committee had taken out a $10 million line of credit and used barely half of it.
“They left money on the table,” he said.
Asked whether Mr. Dean should step down, he responded, loudly, in the affirmative. “He should be held accountable,” Mr. Carville said.
In an interview later, he asked, “Do we want to go into ’08 with a C minus general at the D.N.C.?”
Aides to Mr. and Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Carville had not cleared his attacks on Mr. Dean with them.
Carville was also on CNN’s "The Situation Room" last night, repeating his criticisms of Dean.
This, and the less-than-enthused reaction of some Liberals to Dean's appearance, could make for some interesting news when Dean speaks at the leadership convention two weeks hence. But then perhaps Dean will follow Carville’s example, and refuse to take questions from lowly Canuck scribes.
Dr. Roy is also on the case.