Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama To Nominate Kathleen Sebelius For HHS

The Washington Post, as well as other news sources, are reporting that Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius has accepted President Obama's invitation to be nominated as Secretary of Health and Human Services. In many ways, Sebelius is an attractive and compelling figure. A reformer from a conservative state, with family ties to both parties and a reputation for facilitating bipartisan consensus to enact progressive change. Sebelius was an early Obama supporter during the 2008 primary season and is eminently qualified for the position.

She's no Howard Dean, whom netroots liberals like myself prefer, conservatives loath and White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel despises. Thankfully however, she's also nothing like Tennessee Governor, Phil Bredesen, who is opposed to meaningful healthcare reform. Liberals of all stripes, including me, would have revolted had Obama nominated Bredesen instead.

Nonetheless, I disagree with picking Sebelius because she also happens to be the only Kansas Democrat with a chance of winning a senate seat in 2010. Republican incumbent Sam Brownback had previously announced he wouldn't seek re-election. A Democrat of Sebelius's stature could have a real chance to win this open seat.

As we have already seen with the stimulus debate, it is imperative that Democrats achieve a filibuster proof majority of sixty seats. Hence, Sebelius would better serve the cause of healthcare reform by staying home and campaigning for Brownback's open seat. I have to believe there were choices other than Sebelius, who support meaningful healthcare reform without being politically radioactive like Howard Dean.

The cause of healthcare reform is ill served by removing candidates who can pickup red states. Democrats may regret this pick if Obama's coattails are diminished during the midterm elections next year.


DB said...

I like your point about the neccessity of her staying in Kansas to run for that open Senate seat. It is a possible win for the Dems which would make real reform much more likely at the legislative level than the Cabinet level. Another thing I fear is Dean being brushed aside like he is nothing to the party. That isn't going to help anyone. Dean should be a part of this movement in some way.

upinVermont said...

Dean has been snubbed because, rumor has it, he and Rom Emanuel are like nitro & glycerin. It's a damned shame and it's stupid. I know all about Dean. He was my state's Governor and a good one at that. I wish we had him back.

Dean and Emanuel, however, are two Type A personalities with prickly egos. It's probably why Emanuel doesn't want him around. He's competition. But my own feeling is that Dean did more than Emanuel to put the Democrats in the winning column. Emanuel, though, is Obama's buddy.

Del Patterson said...

I agree she should stay in Kansas.
Kansas is almost as red as Oklahoma where all 77 counties voted for McCain. Most people in Kansas are so far to the right you couldn't find them with a search light but, when it comes to Sebelius, they appear to melt their obdurate political stance and wrap their collective arms around her. In other words, she had a shoo-in opportunity for the senate seat. Her exit means Brownback gets the nod and he will be Rush Limbaugh's waterboy.