What you see here is the next phase of the Progressive agenda, in the form of an effort to delegitimize the opposition, so that no return to the status quo ante is possible.
It's all over the left-wing media and blogosphere: Progressive secular liberalism is being redefined as "moderate" or "the center", while small-government, faith- and personal responsibility-based conservatism (the former American center) is routinely assaulted as "extreme" and radical". Soon it will be "dangerous". Watch.
Yes! Too many conservatives are taking Dean as some kind of joke. But it's not a joke. Many people on the left and in the center are not laughing. They are believing what Dean is saying.
That agenda’s been underway for several years now. Sadly, it’s working. The only way Republicans can survive is to fully realize they’re up against a hard-core opposition that will tell any lie, break any rule, violate any law and cross any moral/ethical line they feel is needed to win. That opposition includes to so-called MSM. As you point out, we’re at end-game stage but many, even here, don’t realize it.