Monday, February 09, 2009

Is Barack Obama Still Listening To People? Or Just Emanuel?


Howard Dean once told me that if a president can just keep the country going and accomplish one major goal on top of that, he would be a successful president. He told me his major goal-- the reason he jumped from a family medical practice to politics-- was reforming the health care system. At the time he was polling in the single digits, the low single digits, in the national polls. It's been quite a trip for him since then but no one, except perhaps an intellectually dishonest Rahm Emanuel, could say he was anything less than the best chairman the DNC has had in recent memory. Governor Dean and his 50 state strategy certainly contributed to the Democrats taking over the House, the Senate, lots of state legislatures and governors mansions and, now, the White House.

Obama doesn't owe anything to anyone. That's the way it should be. Oh, except the American people. He owes us someone who understands health care and how to reform it. His first choice was a consummate Washington insider whose very GOP-like modus operandi revolted the whole country and forced the new Administration to beat a hasty and shabby-looking retreat. For many of us, it wasn't just the tax problems which, after all, may possibly have been honest mistakes, but, as Frank Rich put it in yesterday's Times, but "his post-Senate immersion in the greedy bipartisan culture of entitlement and crony capitalism that both helped create our economic meltdown (on Wall Street) and failed to police it (in Washington). Daschle might well have been the best choice to lead health-care reform. But his honorable public record was instantly vaporized by tales of his cozy, lucrative relationships with the very companies he’d have to adjudicate as health czar." We expect that from George Bush. We expect that from Republicans. We elected Barack Obama because we thought the end of that kind of corruption was part of the Change he was promising.

He can easily make up for that slip-- very easily. But not by nominating some HMO shill like Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen who spent his time as governor stripping 170,000 people of their health care-- the polar opposite of what Howard Dean accomplished when he was governor of Vermont. In the last few days some of the members of Congress most committed to universal health care, Tom Harkin (D-IA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Peter Welch (D-VT) have asked President Obama to appoint Dean to lead the Health and Human Services Department.

I don't know how you can say who's the very best member of Congress but I do know that if you had to make a list of half a dozen senators who live and breath representing working families first and foremost you couldn't do it without including Bernie Sanders. And today Bernie sent President Obama a letter asking him to appoint Dr. Dean. Here's what Senator Sanders had to say about it on his website:
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that he supports Howard Dean to head the Department of Health and Human Services. 

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Sanders wrote that the physician and former Vermont governor is “eminently qualified” for the key post in the president’s cabinet.

“Governor Dean's background as a physician and as a governor makes him eminently qualified for this extremely important position. 

“Governor Dean understands, as you do, that all Americans are entitled to health care as a right of citizenship, and that we must pay far more attention to the needs of our children if we are to have a healthy and prosperous society.

“As a result of Governor Dean’s leadership, Vermont has developed one of the strongest health insurance programs for children in the country, the Dr. Dynasaur program, and has also been in the vanguard in a number of other health-related areas.

“As you well know, reforming our health care system will not be easy.  It will take somebody with determination and focus to lead that effort.  I think that Howard Dean is that person.”

Sanders is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

Meanwhile Emanuel is frantically leaking that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has the gig. She certainly wouldn't be a bad choice by any means... it's just that many Democrats were hoping she would be the next senator from Kansas. Unlike Bredesen she's probably more on the side of the people than the insurance companies and HMOs. But she's no Howard Dean. If you care enough to want to help, why not join one of the Howard Dean for HHS Facebook groups-- or both! And here's the new DeanForHHS website that's keeping all the news on this flowing. Hasn't Emanuel already done enough harm to the new Administration in the first month?


I guess there are a lot of Democrats who aren't afraid of Rahm Emanuel after all. Another progressive fighter for working families, Pat Leahy, endorsed Howard Dean for HHS Secretary today:
"I think Howard Dean would do a great job," Leahy told the Huffington Post at an event at Georgetown University. "He is a physician. As governor he had to deal with everything that went right with HHS and with everything that went wrong. He can tell us that these are the things that a governor has to face, Medicare especially and other things, he is very knowledgeable. He would be very good ... And he is obviously a tireless worker."

Labels: , , , ,


At 7:38 AM, Blogger Warren said...

I just called the White House comment line, 202-456-1111, and suggested the name Howard Dean for HHS. The staff operator who took my call was startled, as though I was the first shes heard from regarding Gov. Dean.

At 8:02 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I called too and it was a quick, easy and pleasant experience. Thanks for providing the phone number, Warren.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous robert dagg murphy said...

Couldn't get through on the phone so I wrote instead. We must pass the Conyers bill and Dean is the best man for the job. Not more insurance/gambling/HMO bull shit ripping off our health care system which has nothing to do with health care but is only set up to make money off of us all. Another case of making money and making sense being mutually exclusive. It is time to make sense. Health care for all. Howard Dean the Man.


Post a Comment

<< Home