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Robert Reich and Howard Dean. Where are They?

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Robert Reich - Not Treasury Secretary

Robert Reich - Not Treasury Secretary

Howard Dean - Not HHS Secretary

Howard Dean - Not HHS Secretary

Many left-leaning Democrats are asking the same question. Reich would have been a superb choice at Treasury and Dean an obvious choice at HHS. Both are tough, forward-thinking progressive politicians with total command of the briefs in question.  Many people inside and outside the Beltway are surprised that neither man was even in the running. Joe Trippi, a top Democratic consultant who ran Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential bid, “I think Robert Reich would have been a better appointment than Geithner”.

And there are many others who agree.

So why aren’t they the nominees?

There are many, many reasons.

First, both Robert Reich and Howard Dean are liberals, and that means they don’t mesh with Obama’s all inclusive ‘new politics’ (or centrism as it’s otherwise known). They are mistakenly seen by the White House as skilled ideologues in a post-partisan world.

Secondly, both Reich and Dean would actually work to enact real change in the two most important domestic arenas in government. Simply put, they would define Obama’s presidency at home. Reich would lead the charge to right the economy by taking control of the banking system, tougher regulation and corporate realignment, while pushing hard for targeted infrastructure spending and less tax cuts, while Dean would crusade for the  universal healthcare system America needs. Is Obama prepared to put his first term in the hands of two guys who will actually do what’s necessary rather than what’s prudent? Naaah. Sadly, change is fast turning out to be a slogan, rather than a strategy.

Thirdly, the opposition to both Reich and Dean would have been deafening inside and outside the beltway. Installing Reich in Treasury would have been a huge red flag to Wall Street. And if one thing is becoming increasingly clear Obama is still clearly enthralled by the Street, despite the fact that it’s a huge part of why we’re on the edge of a worldwide depression. Put Dean in HHS and the sound you’d hear would be the health insurance lobby locking and loading their checkbooks for a long fight. Both these guys would signal that the Prez means business. As for the GOP, to suggest they’d be frothing at the mouth would be an understatement. Some of them might even cry.

Fourthly, there’s politics. Keeping two powerhouses like Reich and Dean out of the club might have seemed like a good idea to another powerhouse. According to some DC bloggers, Rahm Emmanuel has long been feuding with Dean and perhaps a word in Obama’s ear would have been enough to have the former Governor of Vermont and DNC chair frozen out of the health post. As for Reich, he remains an economic advisor to the President, but confirmed that he hadn’t been approached to be part of the Obama cabinet.

After the Judd Gregg and Daschle Debacles, HHS and Commerce remain open. There’s still time for Obama to do the right thing.

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One Response

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  1. These men are not the only men who have been admitted to the Democratic Witness Protection Program. President Obama won the election and gave credit to all the “Little People” and “Unsung Heroes”, but he also told “Lobbyists not to apply.” These may sound like “Childish Things” or “Petty Grievances” but those who gave rise to Obama have not been permitted to get credit. Where is John Kerry…the man who gave Obama the Keynote address? Where is John Edwards…the man who started Obama’s theme of Change with “Two Americas?” Where is “The Bush Fly” and the Democratic Karl Rove? Howard Dean screamed and Kerry-Edwards took control of the Democratic mechanism. There are many of us in the program and being silenced from telling the truth. David Plouffe just got a 7 figure deal for something that he did not do. Find the Bush Fly and you’ll know the truth. Defending the Constitution is not a petty grievance.

    Cecil Jones

    February 18, 2009 at 3:47 am


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