When Howard Dean said the Senate should kill the health care bill, the White House took it personally, hitting back on its blog and at the daily press briefing.
Dean yesterday told Vermont Public Radio: "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." His comments came after word that Democrats were dropping both the public option and an expansion of Medicare.
Then today, on Good Morning America, Dean said the bill is "an insurance company's dream" and a "bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG."
The administration has not taken too kindly to the former DNC chair's statements.
In a post today on the official White House blog, communications director Dan Pfeiffer called Dean's argument "perplexing" and said "this bill will finally wrest power away from the insurance industry and put it in the hands of American consumers."
Pfeiffer went on at length as to why the bill is not an insurance industry bailout. But he was careful to note, "While none of us are shedding any tears for the insurance industry, the primary goal of health insurance reform isn't to punish insurers."
And in today's briefing with reporters, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said no "rational person" would want to kill the bill, prompting reporters to ask if Gibbs thinks Dean is "irrational."
"I can't tell what his motives are," Gibbs responded. (For what it's worth, Glenn Greenwald of Salon points out that Gibbs was the spokesman of a group that ran anti-Dean ads before the 2004 election.)
And maybe it's worked. In an op-ed to run in tomorrow's Washington Post, Dean backs off -- somewhat.
"To be clear, I'm not giving up on health-care reform," he writes. "Improvements can still be made in the Senate, and I hope that Senate Democrats will work on this bill as it moves to conference."
But he goes on:
I know health reform when I see it, and there isn't much left in the Senate bill. I reluctantly conclude that, as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.Source
Related: Landrieu And Dean Duel On Hardball
I support passing the bill but when the White House (reportedly) calls Dean "irrelevant" I'm like ~you mad?~. idk if that's smug. DC has been trying to keep Howard Dean down since 2003 (see the linked NY Times article), the Obama administration sadly bought into that CW, and now they're angry that he's actually speaking for people.
ps - the Most Influential People poll is going up tomorrow cause I was out today sorry