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Is Doctor Dean ... In?


Published February 3, 2009 at 4:19 p.m.

Within minutes of the news being broadcast that former Sen. Tom Daschle was withdrawing his name from consideration as Secretary of Health and Human Services, the familiar name of Gov. Howard Dean's name rocketed across the blogosphere as the preferred replacement.

There's already a Facebook group (called Appoint Howard Dean to HHS!) and this thread at Daily Kos was rife with the kind of enthusiasm Dean inspired when he ran for prez. The comments in this report of Huffington Post on the topic, too, seem to indicate solid support for Dean. Politico weighs in, too, noting the tension between Dean and the White House staff.

Any chance this time around? As I pointed out in "Fair Game" recently, the ruffled feathers between Dean and former Congressman, and current White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel may be too much for even Pres. Barack Obama to smooth over.

Expect more news and netroots push for Obama to consider Dean as his top health pick in the coming hours and days.

As one former staffer put it, Dean has made a political career of being in the right place at the right time. And, since Dean was considered a shoo-in the first time around as HHS Secretary, perhaps those who feel Dean deserves the post will gear up and take this one seriously.

According to Arshad Hasan, the executive director of Democracy for America, the grassroots political group Dean founded, the former Vermont gov was in the air when Daschle dropped out. So, he expects the public will hear more from Dean, and other supporters, very soon.

"I can't think of anyone better suited and more qualified," said Hasan. "Howard has administered health care, overseen the expansion of health care, and practiced in the system. Who better could you think of?"

In all likelihood, Emanuel is putting on his thinking cap.