Friday, January 09, 2009

Obama Disses Dean

I try not to post twice a day and I certainly hate to make two posts in a row ragging on the president-elect, as I did vote for him twice and do think he will be a good leader, but this story from Politico's Jonathan Martin really has me torked. How dare he:

The conspicuous absence of Howard Dean from Thursday’s press conference announcing Tim Kaine’s appointment as Democratic National Committee chair was no accident, according to Dean loyalists. Rather, they say, it was a reflection of the lack of respect accorded to the outgoing party chairman by the Obama team.

Despite leading the party in consecutive triumphant election cycles – as well as through off-year races like when Kaine was elected Virginia governor in 2005 – Dean has become all but invisible since Election Day, passed over for the Cabinet position he coveted and apparently not in line for another administration post...

Dean’s reward for the party recapturing the White House, House, Senate, and taking control of seven governor’s mansions and eight state legislatures on his watch? So far, nothing.

A physician by training who devoted much of his time as Vermont governor to health care, Dean had his eye on becoming Secretary of Health and Human Services. But the post went to Obama ally and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The fact that Dean wasn’t even included in Thursday’s ceremonial — and very public — transfer of power from him to Kaine only underscored his isolation.

"The snub today was no accident," said one Dean ally. “I guarantee you he would have rescheduled his trip if asked to attend. It’s easy to [screw] over people when you are riding high in the polls, let's see how many people are singing his praises in six months."

Asked about Dean’s absence, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt noted that the chairman was out of town and pointed to the president-elect’s praise in prepared remarks: “He launched a 50-state strategy that made Democrats competitive in places they had not been in years, working with my chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to give Democrats a majority in the House for the first time in over a decade,” Obama said of the Vermonter.

The AP further reports that not only was Dean not invited, he was specifically asked not to come.

This is unacceptable. Barack Obama owes Dr. Dean almost everything. Dean was the architect of the 50-state strategy that Obama's campaign perfected, helping him win in places like North Carolina and Indiana; that same strategy is what gave Obama large rather than slim Congressional majorities as allies; Dean's own presidential campaign pioneered activist and Internet tactics that were at the core of Obama's campaign; and Dean, again in his role as a 2004 candidate, infused the party with a spine on Iraq and brought health care to the fore after 12 years of silence, helping set the stage for a candidate like Obama. I cannot for the life of me figure out why Obama would hold him in such low regard.

I'm ok with the fact that Dean isn't the HHS Secretary. I was hoping either he or Daschle would get the job, and I got my wish. Leaving him out of official DNC ceremonies, however, and lumping his campaign successes in with those of his arch-rival Rahm Emanuel is beyond the pale.

If "change" still means a new post-partisan era and the return of competence, great, count me in. But if change means instead poor relations with Democrats in Congress and now in the grassroots, count me out. Snubbing those who crossed your allies in previous cycles no matter how important they are to the nation and the party is bad karma and I want no part of it. Obama holds a lot of promise, but it sure wasn't on display this week.


Leonardo Ricardo said...

I don´t like it either...there is a certain sourness forming in my mouth...I wasn´t looking for miracle workers but I was looking for common sense and basic good manners...I´ve not recovered from the Rick Warren sell-out caper...Warren runs a Purity Cult and his behavior with deadly anti-LGBT witch hunters in Uganda is truly criminal...sins of ommission? No.

pam said...

Obama has certainly proved himself less adept handling his supporters than he was during his presidential race. I am frankly livid over both the treatment of Dr. Dean and the ridiculous inclusion of the anti-gay, anti-Episcopalian Rick Warren. So much for inclusion.

Jordan said...

I guess the Republicans won't have to do anything next year. The Democrats are already hard at work tearing themselves apart!

I am sorry about your man Dean though. He deserves better than the crap he's getting now. It'd be tantamount to cutting NASA's budget because of the fact that most of their probe missions have lasted almost ten times longer than what they were intended for (think Voyager and the Mars rovers).

Nathan Empsall said...

Interesting analogy, Jordan. Y'know, NASA funding was the only thing I ever liked about Tom DeLay.

As for the Democrats, I believe it was Will Rogers who said, "I don't belong to any organized party - I'm a Democrat!"

Cany said...

I have been angered over Obama's treatment of Dean for a while, but this takes the cake.

I'm with you: If you CANNOT manage to respect and include those that worked so hard for you, then something is wrong. I don't know if this is ALL about Rahm (he is purported to have quite a temperment) or what.

The choice of Warren--for OH so many reasons (not to mention my own personal ones from personal experience) was horrid.

This is the man that wanted to bring people, um, together?

Dean did a FABULOUS job. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

James said...

You posted a brilliant commentary, my friend. When I heard on the radio this morning that Dean was out, I was shocked. I didn't realize how scandalous it was until I read your post. Thank you for the elucidation.

This is the second blunder of Obama's administration, IMNSHO. The first being that fundamentalist scandal.

Nathan Empsall said...

These comments startle me. While I understand the anger at the Rick Warren inclusion, I would not have thought to link it to the Dean exclusion. I'm actually inclined to favor the Warren selection, as horrible as his stance on one important issue may be. That said, Obama is clearly showing a tin ear and poor communication skills, which are vital to leadership. To balance the base with the rest of the nation is one thing; to ignore it is another entirely. Expendable people are still people...

James said...

I wouldn't say that I have anger over the situation. Just total shock and dismay.

It was (and I suppose still is) customary for the new US president to escort the former present from the White House on inauguration day. A "good bye" of sorts.

That tradition was followed religiously until the 1950s when Eisenhower refused to escort Trueman from the White House. Most of the nation was shocked by that insult.

I feel the same sense of shock over the Dean insult. Not anger, but total disbelief.

Fred Schwartz said...

I am surprised that everyone is surprised. The actions of Mr. Obama when he took over the Harvard Law Review were actions of a clear centrist. Dean is a lot of things but centrist does not immediately flow from my lips. There seems to be prevalent the Obama mystic that somehow he is from way out in Left field. Not true, he is no more left than say, oh Hilary Clinton. Why is everyone so shocked to realize that issue? I do not believe he discarded Dean for friends per se, but rather to reflect the centrist image. Kaine reflects that image. We all heard him speak, did Kaine sound like a left liberal or did he sound like a Republican in Democratic clothes? We should not let our guard down vis-a-vis the first 10 amendments.

Nathan Empsall said...

Fred, I have to disagree about Dean. As Governor of Vermont, he was generally seen as a centrist. The left-wing adopted him - and he ran with it because it gave his campaign energy - because of his liberal positions on Iraq and health care. But, Vermonters generally didn't recognize his campaign's tone. Remember, this is a guy endorsed by the NRA on several occasions.

Jordan said...

So he likes guns and Obama doesn't? That must be it!