Opinion: Comparison of Bernie Sanders to Howard Dean was off the mark

Greg Dennis’ feigned inability to distinguish Bernie Sanders from Howard Dean might be mildly cute if it were original (read the column here).
But cute or not, equating Dean’s 2004 campaign with Bernie’s present one is nonsense.
Of course Dean and Sanders are both Vermonters, relatively little known and underfunded compared to the opposition. But they are by no means the same people and the 2004 and 2015 campaign environments are very different.
Dean drew support for his opposition to the Iraq war, but he had little political experience and was otherwise a middle-of-the-road Democrat with a rather short fuse, simply not able to out-campaign the likes of John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt and a wide field of others. Bernie Sanders, in contrast to Dean, is a seasoned public servant with lengthy experience in both houses of Congress. His platform and convictions have never changed, and the more widely his message is heard, the stronger his support grows relative to the strength of his only opponent, Hillary Clinton.
What makes Mr. Dennis so sure that because Howard Dean’s campaign burned out in Iowa Sanders’ will do the same? Why not conclude that having failed once when she faced fewer difficulties than she does now, Secretary Clinton will fail again?
Mrs. Clinton is certainly qualified to be president. If she is nominated we will strongly support her against any of the dreadful Republican contenders. But the Clinton email flap may prove far more damaging than Mr. Dennis seems to think. Hillary is perceived even by many Democrats as arrogant, evasive and untrustworthy. That Vice President Biden is considering entering the nomination race is testimony to Democratic establishment fears that Hillary would not win the general election. For his own sake, we hope that Mr. Biden will not run. But if he does, he will take votes from Mrs. Clinton, not from Bernie.
Of course the Sanders candidacy is a long shot and, indeed, largely for some of the reasons Mr. Dennis lists: He is not the establishment candidate and he will be vastly outspent by the powerful interests backing Hillary Clinton. But he has a far better chance than Howard Dean did of beating the odds because so many voters are responding to the truth and sincerity of his message. Here’s a cliché as overworked as Greg Dennis’s but much more important: If everyone who really wants Bernie Sanders to be president votes for him in a primary, there is no reason that he can’t win.
Judy and Michael Olinick, Middlebury

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