When Howard Dean -- a doctor, former Vermont governor, DNC chair, and 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate -- condemned
the current health care reform bill and said Democrats should kill it
, he inspired a tide of liberal agreement
. But there's another contingent of liberal thinkers who insist
that even a bill without a public option would be a crucial
development. They and others have responded to Dean's pronouncement
with shock, furious that he would undermine the Democratic goal of
health care reform. That pushback even includes the White House
, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs blasting Dean today
. Here's what the liberal backlash against Howard Dean looks like.
- 'Irresponsible' Doctor Dean Sen. Jay Rockefeller,
a Democrat and point man in the fight for health care reform, slams
Dean. "It's nonsense and it's irresponsible and coming from him as a
physician, it's stunning," he told reporters. "Am I angry that the
public option appears to have been dropped? Of
course I'm angry. Was I for Medicare buy-in? Of course I was. So what
do I do? Do I take my football and go home
and sob and complain? No, I look at the bill and say what is in the
interest of the people in my state." The Washington Post's Ezra Klein agrees.
- Dean & Co 'Playing With Fire' The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn reacts
to left-wing sulking. "But the best response wouldn't be to demand the
impossible--that is, to insist upon a restoration of the public plan
that simply doesn't have the votes it needs to pass. It would be to
demand some other things, like better subsidies and regulation, that do
have political potential and could actually make the final bill better.
I'm all for a loud, angry left. If nothing else, we need it to
balance out the loud, angry right. But there's a fine line between
being constructive and destructive. This latest gambit, I think,
- Consider The Long Game The American Prospect's Paul Starr urges
Dean. "Liberals in Congress should also recognize that with either a
2014 date for implementation, there will be time enough to revise the
program before it goes into effect (indeed, time enough for the
opponents to roll it back). Many of the specifics, such as the level of
subsidies, almost certainly will be changed in the intervening years.
And many of those specifics can be changed through budget
reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes to pass the Senate," he
writes. "If progressives in Congress can see that far ahead, they'll
see their way to vote for a compromise."
- Why He Lost 2004 Presidential Primary The Washington Independent's David Weigel jokes, "Howard Dean is exhibiting all the political skills that made him our 44th president."
- Dean's Dissent Helping GOP? Twitter user Karoli scoffs, "[T]hanks Howard Dean for handing the GOP its newest talking points. You're a real pal."
- The Responsible Players The Washington Posts's Ezra Klein surveys
the senators who, unlike Dean and Joe Lieberman, he says have
acted responsibly and selflessly to pass health care reform. "So let
this serve as an encomium to Ron Wyden, Tom Harkin, Chuck
Schumer, Sherrod Brown, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller, among many
others. All of these senators could have been the 60th vote. All of
them had issues they believe in and worked for," he writes. "But you
know what? They're all still there. Because in the
end, this isn't about them, and though their states and their pet
issues might benefit if they tried to make it about them, the process,
and thus the result, would be endangered."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.