The first time I saw Howard Dean speak was in the spring of 2003. It was a very dark time. We were being driven into a pre-emptive and utterly unnecessary and foolish war on not much more than bald-faced lies; the media was obediently purveying the administration's spin and hype, leaping at the chance to be "embedded," and dared not criticize the President or his brave host of steely-eyed, visionary advisors. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz had decided how the world was going to look -- fuck the facts -- and we were all supposed to shut up and get with the program.
Dean in March 2003
The first thing I noticed when I heard Dean speak was his intensity -- the raw, clipped energy of his attacks on the mendacity of the Bush administration. Dean was a short amped-up firebrand -- and he was saying exactly what I felt. Dean gave voice to the millions of us -- including then State Senator Barack Obama -- who felt absolutely horrified and powerless in the face of the collective, unthinking nationalistic swoon the country had fallen into, cowed and confused by 9/11 -- a swoon that the Bush administration exploited to launch its long-desired invasion of Iraq.
Dean gave millions of us hope. Dean represented an independent-minded side of America that would not drink the Bush administration's Kool-Aid. Dean was the first major politician to mobilize the full wrath of those Americans who, like him, were disgusted by the Bush administration's cynical tactics and were ready to say so.
Despite the political assassination of Dean through the endless and juvenile exploitation of the Dean Scream, one can in fact draw a straight line from Dean's insurgent campaign that first harnessed the power of the netroots and the ultimate glory of the 2008 Obama campaign. And Obama owes much to Dean's pathbreaking 50-state strategy as D.N.C. Chairman. Let us not forget that during Dean's tenure as D.N.C. Chairman, the Democrats took back both houses of Congress in 2006, and won states they had not won in decades as Obama took the White House in 2008.
Howard Dean was there for us in our darkest moments, at the very nadir of the long and dark tenure of the Bush administration. He spoke for us then. He spoke for us -- and won for us -- as D.N.C. Chairman. We know who Howard Dean is, and we know what he will do for us: he will fight like a banshee and not be afraid to kick the motherfuckers' teeth in (to the extent that can be done on C-Span, of course).
Nearly 50 million Americans live without health insurance -- and that number continues to rise dramatically as the economic crisis lays waste to thousands of jobs. This needs to change. Howard Dean is the man for the job.
Howard Dean for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Write President Obama.