Jack O'Toole (who blogs "from a center-left perspective," so you know he's a Kool Kid) says:
Regardless of what you think of Howard Dean ... it’s simply not, uh, reality-based to keep angrily insisting that he represents the rank and file of the Democratic party. He doesn’t. And how do we know that? Because the rank and file overwhelmingly rejected the good doctor in one primary after another just last year. Q.E.D., right? Right???. . .
Not exactly. As you may recall, Dean's candidacy was torpedoed by the ridiculous importance placed on the Iowa caucus; once he lost there, he was considered 'over', and Democrats across the country--who for some reason had the idea that it was necessary to choose a candidate as quickly as possible--coalesced around Kerry.
Plus, the Iowa caucus system is so remarkably, spectacularly fucked up that nothing much can be read into the fact that Kerry came out on top.
Plus, even if it were the case that the rank and file 'overwhelmingly' rejected Dean back in early 2004, it doesn't follow that Dean doesn't now represent the 'rank and file'.