Yes, we’ll all miss that nice, Michael Moore-admiring Mr. McAuliffe.

But, if a soiree held by Deniacs last night at the Capital Brewery to celebrate the inevitable ascension of Howard Dean to the chairmanship of his party was any indication, happy days are still here.

A report on the fete:

“His own faithful knew the tune. Mara Abrams, who works at a Democratic consulting firm, said Dean’s extreme reputation is a ’misnomer. He’s a centrist on a lot of issues.’ Scott Goldstein, American University student and Democracy for American volunteer, cited Dean’s National Rifle Association endorsement and argued that Dean only differs in that ’he actually shows up and says what he thinks.’

“But this wasn’t a crowd of moderates. Howard Dean’s campaign for DNC chairman rode the cult of personality that was founded in an extreme candidacy. And his D.C. followers were present, packing the restaurant and lining up down the block. They didn’t quite recognize this Howard: One supporter cried, ’Give ’em hell, Howard!’ They chanted ’Dean! Dean!’ and mobbed him for autographs as soon as he finished his speech. Treating Dean like Bono while ’Beautiful Day’ filled the air, young men and women reached over the crowd with their digital cameras and cameraphones to catch their glimpse. Pep rally-style signs like ’People Powered Howard’ hung from the balcony. Though Dean and his supporters have told the press in the last week that Dean isn’t the Dems’ new policy man, these folks don’t think he’ll be a mere organizer or strategist.

“Nor does the new Dean seem ready to play moderate or mere party chair. He repeated his line about the necessity for good Democrats to run for library trusteeships since they ’read books instead of burn them.’ He said President Bush ’ought to be ashamed to take out personal attacks’ on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. It’s hard to see the big tent with a party chairman whose strategy for discussing faith entails, ’We’ll talk about our faith, but we won’t change it. We need to talk about who are as Democrats and we need to be proud to be Democrats.’ Ticking off various elections he would target, Dean whipped himself up and said he wanted to make sure ’Schwarzenegger gets terminated, and Senator Frist goes back to heart operations, but not on me!’”