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Farewell Hope



“Don’t say unconscious
No don’t say doom
If you got to say it
Let me leave this room”

-Television, See No Evil

The Democrats have finally accomplished something. Yes, I’m talking about Howard Dean’s latest victory, but it’s not what you think. Dean’s scoring of the DNC chair isn’t a win for progressives. Nope, it’s a triumph for the establishment. The Beltway savants have successfully muted the only vibrant contingent within their frail party. The Deaniacs have been corralled.

Howard Dean’s new post has been hailed by many as a huge feat for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (yeah, what “progressive” wing?). But it is no feat. Not only is Howard Dean a centrist in the most disgusting Clintonesque sense of the term, but his victory this past weekend to head the DNC is also a shot in the head of his passionate supporters. He has sold them out, while taking on the roll of insider, where his new symbolic post within the party will do little more to challenge Democratic policy, than, say, MoveOn’s irritating phone calls to Congress.

We should have seen it coming. Right after Joe Trippi left Dean’s presidential campaign last year, the good doctor moved quickly to replace him with DC insider Roy Neel. Neel, who talked Al Gore out of actively contesting the 2000 election, was a long-time telecom lobbyist who employed his status with the Clinton Administration to maneuver the atrocious Telecommunications Act through Congress in 1996 — was perhaps the greatest corporate handout of the Clinton years.

It was a sign of what was to come when only months later Howard Dean jumped into the ring with presidential candidate Ralph Nader, hoping to entice his dizzied Deaniacs into not fleeing the Democrats’ pro-war ticket. Although Nader’s peaceful embrace was more in line with their anti-war principles — the 2004 elections were simply not the time to stand up for what they believed in. Or so claimed Howard Dean.

The ex-governor was attempting to cover his own ass, hoping to embolden his clout within the party. Old Howard even went as far as to call John Kerry a “progressive” in his debate with Mr. Nader. It was a disgusting display of political myopia. Dean sold out his loyal followers that moment. He told the very people that were responsible for his success to go ahead and piss their ideals into the political winds of Washington. The Iraq war wasn’t the issue; Dean’s own gluttonous motivations were.

Nevertheless Howard Dean seems to be riding high, like Bing Crosby in that awful Frank Capra flick. But don’t believe the hype. Dean’s new job is an administrative boondoggle. The dry Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has more influence over Democratic policy than Dean ever will. Believe it.

The party bigwigs are surely thrilled. Especially if Dean can fill their campaign coffers with a surplus of grassroots cash.

Hold on. Don’t kid yourself, though. This certainly doesn’t mean Dean won’t continue to hobnob with the corporate fat cats like his filthy predecessors. And don’t count on Deano to disclose campaign finances either. Just look at Vermont where his boys gutted the only law that called for even the slightest transparency in the state’s public elections.

No, this whole DNC thing smells of rot. Let’s hope that the Deaniacs (the few not having multiple orgasms over this “success”) break ranks and hang Howard Dean and the Democrats out to dry like a pair of stanky old socks. That’s the only way victory could ever come out of this calamity.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be released in early 2005 by Common Courage Press. He can be reached at:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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