It was pretty clear even before the e-mail message from Howard Dean yesterday afternoon that the Paul Hackett race in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District was a test, a probing of enemy lines looking for weaknesses. You've got to hand it to Howard Dean that he would decide to probe those enemy lines where they were habitually said to be their strongest. But what had looked like oak -- Ohio's most Republican district -- turned out to be punky wood. Howard Dean has every right to brag:
"The formula is simple. Paul Hackett didn't apologize for being a Democrat, didn't hold back from criticizing a president who has failed to lead in Iraq and at home, and took a strong Democratic message into the heart of a Republican stronghold."
Dean had been saying it over and over. We have to show up. If we show up and have the courage of our convictions, amazing things begin to happen.