What the Hell is Howard Dean Thinking?

I like Howard Dean. I supported him during the 2004 presidential primary, and I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit (outside of netroots circles, anyway) for his role in herding the Democratic Party to a historic electoral victory in 2006.

But all of that being said, this is just nuts:

“This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.”

Never mind that this is a damn good bill. Never mind that reconciliation could only be used to pass a limited portion of the bill. And never mind that the health care reform Dean proposed in 2004 was significantly less ambitious than the legislation he’s calling insufficient now. None of that’s terribly salient, given that the odds of him getting his wish are roughly equivalent to the odds of Joe Lieberman getting visited by the eight ghosts of Hanukkah, having an abrupt change of heart, and crying for medicare expansion to be put back into the bill.

No, what really gets me about this is that Dean, a major voice in the grassroots progressive movement, seemingly wants to deprive them of a major victory.

When health care reform passes, the left should celebrate. We should be able to hold this up as a huge milestone, and the first step in a continual expansion of the new Great Society. But instead, Dean–and other organizers who oppose the bill–would have us distance ourselves from the most significant legislative coup we’ve had in a very long time, thereby substantially, and unnecessarily, weakening our position.

Of course, there’s a significant portion of the netroots–Dean’s base within his base, you could call them–that disagree with me. Dean’s telling them what they want to hear, and he knows that. I hope his motives, however misguided, for calling for the tanking of the Senate bill are purer than just a blatant pander to the Kos-and-MoveOn crowd. It would be a damn shame if one of the left’s foremost leaders was taking a page out of the far right’s book and taking a position he knows will help him advance within the movement to its detriment.

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