Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Look At Howard Dean

I was underwhelmed by Howard Dean's Democratic Presidential bid in 2004. Even before the Iowa primary and his much publicised "scream" (a total non-factor for me) Dean was my fourth preference, behind Wesley Clark, John Edwards and John Kerry, in that order.

I had paid inadequate attention to what Dean had to say and thought he leaned too far left on some issues at that time. But as 2008 rolled along I was impressed by his articulation of Democratic values and even-keeled stance as DNC chairman during the Hillary - Obama primary slug fest. And now he's been making direct, succinct and insightful comments in TV news shows on health reforms, including on the issue of the public option that he strongly supports.

In the Morning Joe program on MSNBC he offered this very interesting perspective on death panels and why Obama seemed to be backing away from the public option ahead of a Senate vote. He said this was a way to get a bill past the Senate with 60 votes when Democrat senators like Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad are sabotaging the public option provision. This provision can then be re-introduced through a "reconciliation process" with the House of Representatives bill that then needs only 50 votes to pass. If that's truly what Obama has in mind then I won't be so hasty in judging him.

Others have also noticed how Dean is such an effective voice for health reforms and for batting down misinformation by opponents. Here is a YouTube clip by a group called The Young Turks showing how Dean counters three arguments against key reform provisions. The commentator wonders why Dean isn't the Health and Human Services Secretary. Now that he's done being DNC chairman I hope he gets to assume another high public office. And yes, if I could revisit 2004 he'd be my top choice among those presidential candidates.

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