Medical doctor and former DNC chairman Howard Dean has made health care reform his pet political issue, from his governorship of Vermont to his 2004 presidential campaign. So when he declares the long-labored-over Democratic health care bill so terrible it should be killed, people pay attention. He inspired a tide of agreement from the left wing of the Democratic party and a vicious backlash from moderate Democrats. Perhaps more importantly, he raised a heated debate within the party over mandates, which would require individual to buy insurance and are Dean's biggest concern. Here's Dean Tuesday night on MSNBC's Countdown and this morning on ABC's Good Morning America:
In only a couple of short interviews (he also spoke with Vermont public radio), Howard Dean was able to completely flip the debate over health care reform. Until Dean spoke, the health care focus was entirely on negotiating with -- and finding ways to please -- centrists like Sen. Joe Lieberman and conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson. The issues at hand were conservative concerns such as abortion and cost control. Now, thanks to Dean, the entire discussion is how Democratic leadership can please the liberal left. That's no small thing. Even if moderate Democrats are fuming at Dean right now, he may be doing them a favor by forcing them to defend their ideas against the left.