Eric Fetterman makes the case for Howard Dean as George McGovern in todays New York Post. This is a popular "meme" with everybody these days, especially the GOP.
Although it is compelling, the Dean-McGovern comparison breaks down at one important level that has been overlooked. One of the reasons that McGovern became "McGovernized," so to speak, was the long primary season in 1972. McGovern and Humphrey were still slogging it out as late as the California primary in early June. McGovern had to keep tacking to the left all spring to maintain his momentum against a furious assault by Humphrey and Scoop Jackson. It left him little time to try to get back to the center.
Dean, on the other hand, is likely to have the nomination wrapped up by March 1, which gives him lots of time, before lots of voters have paid close attention, to inch back to the center. You can expect him to have lots of help from the media. GOP attempts to highlight his loopy/crazy statements will be dismissed as "old news."