Now is the time for Democrats to wonder if they did the right thing when they picked Howard Dean (search) to run the party. At the time, everybody said, "Yeah, we know he's abrasive, we know his 'Hate Bush' thing rubs some people, even some Democrats the wrong way, but man can that guy raise money."

After all, Dean invented the Internet. You thought it was Gore, but it was really Dean. It was Dean and Joe Trippi (search) who ginned up a campaign on a surprise tsunami of cash generated by Web site appeals to max out your credit card.

This is a little like the "Big Unit" comes to the Yankees. Yeah, he's difficult, he's cranky, but he can pitch.

Well the Yankees suck, the "Big Unit" is looking like just another tall guy and Howard Dean is tanking when it comes to raising money for the Dems.

How can that be? He's Howard Dean, the cash-cow money machine.

Well, evidently, not anymore.

He's rolling up his sleeves, hitting the road and evidently the crowds are happy to see the "Energizer Bunny" of politics. But they are sitting on their wallets.

Republicans have four times as much cash in the bank as Dems.

Eamon Javers is reporting in Business Week that Dean isn't charming the big donors. He's hustling the small donors, "Give me a $100 right now," but he really should be going after the big guys — "Give me the max right now." The big guys don't like Dean. He rubs them the wrong way.

Javers quotes one of the fat cats saying, "It's wait and see about Dean." Sure, there are some moneybag donors who would like to help the Democrats, but they mostly want to know that their money is not going to back a loser.

Too early to say if he is or isn't a loser, I guess.

Well, now, wait a minute. Maybe it isn't too early.

I know in my own case when it comes to Howard Dean, I've made up my mind already. But I guess I wasn't one of his donors anyway.

That's My Word.

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