It’s rare that a public figure can poke fun at himself. Rarer still to do so as a means of political fundraising. But former Vermont Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean did just that, using the 10th anniversary of his full bull-goose looney “Yeeaarrgghh” speech after falling short in the Iowa caucuses to plug Democracy for America, the successor of his Dean for America organization.
(Courtesy Democracy for America)
The ask, in emailed form, even provides the text of the Dean Scream:
“It’s hard to believe it was ten years ago tonight. On this day a decade ago — January 19, 2004 — I gave one of the most famous speeches in the history of American politics. Or perhaps “infamous” would be more accurate.
I’m guessing you might remember the climactic moment of that night, as I enthusiastically rallied my presidential campaign supporters in the aftermath of a disappointing finish in the Iowa Caucus:
‘Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! And we’re going to California and Texas and New York! And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House!
While the ‘Dean Scream’ became fodder for late night comedians, including a hilarious version by Dave Chappelle I still laugh about, I also feel very proud of the state-by-state preamble to my unforgettable rallying cry. Because, when I said we were heading to New Hampshire and South Carolina and Oklahoma… and to Washington, DC to take back the White House… it turns out I wasn’t kidding.”
Dean goes on to say this was kinda sorta the start of the 50-state strategy he hung his hat on as DNC chairman, a position he was elected to in 2005. The next year, Democrats retook the House and Senate, and in 2008, the White House.
But let’s give it to Dean. Most solicitations for political money are either painfully earnest or a bit of a snoozer. He had the moxie to take one of the most cringe-worthy moments in American politics and OWN it.
And, for what it’s worth, here’s the Chappelle skit: