WASHINGTON -- One year after being swept into the White House and bestowed huge majorities in Congress, Democrats have seen their towering lead over Republicans evaporate. Why? According to previous DNC chairman Howard Dean, they're just not tough enough.

Dean declared Thursday that Democrats "need a spinal transplant" as the party is too quick to succumb to Republican intimidation rather than stand by their convictions and bring their ideas to fruition.

"Republicans are so irresponsible," Dean said. "They put the good of their party ahead of the good of the country, and when that happens they don't deserve to serve in office anymore."

Dean, also former governor of Vermont, staunchly defended the efforts of Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin (IA) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) to reform the minority party's ability to block legislation using the filibuster.

Harkin said "the abuse of the filibuster by Republicans is unprecedented" and called it "reckless."

Dean said "Republicans have decided to wreck the system in order to get their way" and taming the filibuster has become necessary in order for Democrats to effectively govern.

Republican leaders Sens. Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell threatened to abolish the filibuster just years ago in 2005 when they controlled the majority in Congress. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, and they have no intention of letting it go.

"Our problem is we're not tough enough," Dean said, alleging that Republicans would have passed their legislation using reconciliation if they faced a similar degree of opposition from Democrats.

"Republicans are obstructionists," Dean said. "They have nothing to offer. They haven't offered anything."

During December's health care deliberations, Dean grew so frustrated with his party's willingness to dilute the legislation that after the public option and Medicare buy-in provisions were removed he declared, "kill the Senate bill."

After publicly sniping with the White House on the matter, he eventually tempered his stance and reluctantly agreed the Senate bill was an improvement, if a pyrrhic victory.

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 11, 2010.

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Rachel Maddow's complete segment explaining why the filibuster should be eliminated follows:

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