It depends who you ask.

Some disgruntled Democrats want to replace him with Harold Ford, arguing that Dean did poorly at fundraising, and that his “50 state” strategy cost them several additional seats.

Elsewhere, though, he’s being hailed as a genius. Not only did the Democrats not need his help to win, but his efforts to build a truly national grassroots operation paid dividends in several close races, as well as forcing Republicans to defend seats they might not have otherwise.

Me, I think the detractors need to get some perspective. The lackadaisical fundraising is a legitimate gripe. But Dean is right that the party needs to rebuild nationally, and not simply write off large swathes of the country as GOP strongholds. And in hindsight he was right to remain focused on that, instead of throwing all his resources into a mid-term election push that turned out not to need his help.

Dean now has a running start and two years to build a fully functional network for the 2008 presidential elections, with the fundraising and policy help of a Democratic Congress. That’s a huge thing. Dean was right; now Democrats would be smart to leave the man alone to do his job.

Politics Howard Dean: Fool or genius?