The pushback against Howard Dean for his call to "kill" the Senate health care bill, continued on Friday night, with a prominent Senate Democrat picking out an old quote from the former DNC chair's past to paint him as hypocritical in the debate.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) who squared off against Dean during the 2004 Democratic primary, issued the following statement on the Senate floor as the week-long debate over health care hit a closing crescendo:
I can promise you, if we follow that kind of advice and give up now, just because the bill is not all we want it to be, we surrender the very reforms that people have spent their lives working for, reforms that the Democratic Party has been proposing for decades, reforms that many of us in the Senate today ran on and promised we would work together to achieve.
What we are trying to do here is not easy. It wasn't easy for Franklin Roosevelt when he tried, it wasn't easy for Harry Truman when he tried, it wasn't easy for Bill Clinton when he tried. But you don't sound the retreat, especially when you are so close to achieving many of your objectives.
Some of our liberal friends have suggested we should kill the health care reform bill because it doesn't have a public option.
This week, for example, Howard Dean wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that real health care reform needed a public option that would '...give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage.' I was surprised to read that because back in 1993, then-Governor Howard Dean called Medicare '...one of the worst federal programs ever and a living advertisement for why the federal government should never administer a national health care program.'
Well, I am a strong supporter of the public option and I've fought to see it included. But if it cannot be included, I'm not willing to walk away.
The remarks, which were offered under a press release titled "Kerry Rebuts Republicans on Health Care, Urges Democrats to See Bigger Picture," is yet another example of the growing divide between Democrats inside and out of office. The progressive community itself is torn on the politics and policy implications of health care reform. But what stands out is the willingness for Kerry, the White House and other Senators on the Hill to turn their guns on Dean even as they bite their tongues when it comes to conservative Democratic critiques of the legislation.
As one plugged in Democrat in the heat of the negotiations put it succinctly: "[Sen. Joseph] Lieberman (I-Conn.) has a vote in this process. Dean doesn't."