In the Arena

Dollars for Dean

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I’ve just received this email:

Yesterday, the media was filled with reports that Washington insiders called Governor Dean “irrational,” he’s throwing a “tantrum,” and he’s “irrelevant to the entire healthcare debate.” D.C. insiders want to frame the fight for real healthcare reform as Howard Dean vs. the White House. But this isn’t about Dr. Dean and it isn’t about the White House.

It’s about Americans vs. Insurance Companies and Governor Dean is working to make sure Americans win.

While none of these insider Democrats are willing to take on Joe Lieberman and demand real reform, Washington politicians are working hard to throw Dr. Dean under the bus.

What they don’t seem to understand is that Governor Dean speaks for you and me.


And it seems to me that this is too much of what the health care campaigns, left and right, have been all about: creating false and overstated controversies to raise money, build their donor lists. This is why you see the right-wingers sending out letters about “death panels” and “government takeovers.” This is why you see lefties sending out letters about the “public option” and manichean choices involving “Americans against insurance companies”…and not about the millions of people who will benefit from health care reform (and, of course, the intense regulation of the insurance companies, forcing them to insure all regardless of pre-existing conditions, that will be part of the bill).

The truth is, both the left and the right want to have a fight about the public option/government takeover, even though it’s only a minor aspect of the legislation. That’s because these groups’ political consultants have convinced them that it’s the only hot button issue out there that’s easily comprehensible–that is, an issue you can effectively use to make money from the knee-jerk true believers on both sides. My hope is that the vast majority of people in this country–liberals, moderates and thoughtful conservatives who understand the current health care system is untenable and immoral–will see past the greedy extremists. Unfortunately, focus-grouped fund-raising letters filled with passionate intensity, like the one excerpted above, is what “politics” is now all about: show Howard the money. What a disgrace.