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Was snubbing Dean a mistake?

From NBC's Mark Murray
Over the past few days, much of the political psycho-analysis has focused on Joe Lieberman, wondering if his drubbing in the 2004 presidential primaries and his defeat in the 2006 Senate primary helped shape his opposition to the public option and, later, the Medicare buy-in.

Here's something else to think about: In retrospect, was Barack Obama's conspicuous snub of Howard Dean a big mistake, given the former DNC chairman's opposition to the Senate health-care bill moving through Congress?

Remember that when Tim Kaine was tapped to be the new DNC chairman, Dean wasn't at the Obama-Kaine press conference announcing the move. Instead, he was in American Samoa, but his allies maintained he would have canceled that trip had he been given a heads up about the press conference.

What's more, Dean never got a plum position in the Obama administration. Possibly adding insult to injury, few DNC aides who worked for Dean initially got top jobs in the Obama administration.

It all raised this question in Washington: Why did Obama opponents like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman receive better treatment from Team Obama than Dean received?

And it now raises this question: Had Dean been treated better would he -- like other Senate progressives right now -- be urging liberals to accept the half a loaf on health care.

One former DNC aide who worked for Dean insists that his opposition to Senate bill has nothing to do with being snubbed. He truly believes in the importance of a public option.

But the aide argues that it was a mistake for the White House not to make Dean part of its team. "If I'm the Obama administration, I want Howard Dean on my side... Howard Dean is a team player. But if he's not on the team, he's free to say whatever he wants."