Now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from consideration as Secretary of Health and Human Services, President Obama now faces the choice of picking a new nominee to fill that enormously important post.
There is one clear choice who stands out among all the others : Governor Howard Dean.
Or perhaps I should write Dr. Dean.
For some odd reason, being a doctor, or having serious experience in some capacity with the healthcare system, in the past has not been considered an essential qualification for Secretary of HHS. (This may help explain why healthcare is screwed up.)
Suppose a president were to appoint an Attorney General who was not a lawyer? There is in fact no constitutional or legal requirement that the AG be an attorney. But they always have been because being a lawyer is considered a fundamental prerequisite to be AG. How would it be perceived if such a nomination were to be made? Would it get even a single vote in the Judiciary Committee? I seriously doubt it.
President Obama's choice of Steven Chu as Energy Secretary was universally praised because he was a physicist (and a Nobel Laureate one). What a concept, an energy secretary who actually knows something about energy!
Why is HHS considered any different? What qualifies a lawyer for the job?
Beyond that, we have to consider Doctor Dean's experience as Governor of Vermont. As governor, Dean is one of the few politicians who can actually say he did healthcare reform. Vermont today has the best record in the nation for insuring kids, almost all are covered, and the general rate of uninsured Vermonters is one of the lowest in the nation, if not the lowest.
Others can talk the talk on reforming our nation's broken healthcare system, but none can really say they've walked the walk the way Dr. Dean has.
So I would urge everyone to call the White House switchboard and urge President Obama to put Dr. Dean in charge of our nation's healthcare system. The numbers are:
TTY/TDD: Comments: 202-456-6213
There is also an online form at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/...
There's also a Facebook page, and I would urge others to join it, too: http://www.facebook.com/...
UPDATE: I should have added this, so I will move it up from a comment I made below.
He did it before, he can do it again. Dr. Dean got a real plan through the Vermont Legislature! Where did this idea get started that he can't work with legislators? Some people may find this hard to believe, but they do have Republicans in Vermont. Further, he can apply the tactics of the 50 state strategy to getting healthcare done, building national support.
UPDATE TWO: Someone suggested a poll to determine how many people have called: great idea and here it is--
UPDATE THREE: There is now also a Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/...
UPDATE FOUR: From the Facebook page comes this equally great suggestion: call Sen. Max Baucus of Montana at 202-224-2651
Sen. Baucus is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which would be approving the nominee. Ask him to please come out in support of Gov. Dean, MD as Secretary of Health and Human Services. I know many of us don't like Baucus, but at all cost, be polite!
And if I could make another suggestion: emphasize Dean's integrity. Howard Dean is a man who paints his own house. As DNC Chair, he rode the subway to the office every day. His old fashioned Yankee thrift is legendary. He really does buy his suits at J.C. Penny's, not Armani. He is the last man in the world to A. have an illegal immigrant washing his socks, B. riding around in someone else's limo, C. chiseling on his taxes. Howard Dean is probably the most honest politician we have seen since George Washington.
ALSO: Petition Online: http://www.petitiononline.com/...