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2016's Thirty Pieces of Silver: Howard Dean Trades Idealism for Potential Clinton Cabinet Post

Updated on September 20, 2015

Howard Dean: 2004 Populist but 2016 Moderate?

Howard Dean was a devout populist on the 2004 presidential campaign trail, but has since endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for 2016.
Howard Dean was a devout populist on the 2004 presidential campaign trail, but has since endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for 2016. | Source

Is Howard Dean Angling for a Potential Clinton Cabinet Post?

In 2008, when Hillary Clinton last ran for president, one of her primary election competitors was New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. As a summer resident of New Mexico, where I worked as a backpacking guide, I liked the state and its chief executive. I was also impressed by Richardson's background, which included a considerable tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives and postings as both the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the U.S. Secretary of Energy. In '08, Richardson was in his second term as governor and was very popular at home. Frankly, he had more experience than any challenger.

Strangely, Richardson kept quiet whenever Clinton touted herself as the candidate with the most experience. He put up a meager showing in the Democratic primaries, bowed out of the race, and then endorsed U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) instead of Clinton. Since Richardson had been a Bill Clinton appointee for both his UN ambassador and Secretary of Energy positions, his public support of Obama over Hillary Clinton was seen as a major betrayal. Controversially, Clinton adviser James Carville likened Richardson's "betrayal" to Judas' acceptance of thirty pieces of silver in the Bible.

Whatever was Richardson's goal, he did get some political silver: He was nominated as incoming president Barack Obama's Secretary of Commerce. Of course, he withdrew from consideration after a scandal involving allegedly improper business dealings in New Mexico erupted...

Today, another thirty pieces of silver may be changing hands. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, the one-time 2004 Democratic presidential frontrunner, has long been known for his populist rhetoric and championing of progressive causes. In January 2004, after being overtaken by rivals and finishing a disappointing third in the Iowa caucus, Dean gave a speech where his infamous "Dean scream" made him a subject of mockery. In February, after continued poor showings in the primaries, Dean folded his campaign.

As the 2016 primaries began warming up, progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was compared to Howard Dean. Both men were political leaders from the same state, championed populist causes, and represented the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. You would assume that Dean would smile upon Sanders' campaign...but the former governor has endorsed Hillary Clinton instead.

"I’d rather support somebody who I think can get a lot of these things done than make myself feel good by storming the ramparts," Dean said, parroting the establishment idea that Clinton, as a pro-compromise moderate, can pass lots of legislation as president. It's a sad fall for Dean, who has apparently shed his idealism and passion in exchange for the boring bandwagon. He has abandoned populism and progressivism in exchange for the chance at a Clinton cabinet post.

For abandoning Sanders and populism, what could Dean receive in the event that Clinton wins the presidency? Secretary of State would be a prominent post, and ironic. Perhaps Secretary of Health and Human Services, since Dean is a medical doctor. And, despite turning 76 just after election day in 2024, Dean may be angling for Clinton machine support for a future presidential campaign.

Sadly for Dean, all of his hypocrisy will likely net him no silver. Bernie Sanders is on track to overtake Clinton and should become the Democratic presidential nominee. Sanders is the only Democrat who can defeat the Republicans next fall. Clinton, whose campaign lacks enthusiasm and has been tarnished by the e-mail server scandal, will be easy pickings for the GOP nominee. Will Dean recant and praise Sanders as fall turns to winter? I predict many Clinton endorsers will do so...and Carville can start tallying up the silver.


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    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      3 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      I don't know about that....I watched Hillary at the New Hampshire Dem convention, and she was very impressive.

      Sanders was, too. And he said no matter what, this is a movement.

      I don't think Dems can get away with Blue-Dogging it anymore.... Be frigging Democrats, not Republican lite!

      I think Hillary gets that.....

      And I know Dean does.


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