Brief of the Week December 21, 2009

DEAN AT WAR (WITH WHITE HOUSE): Although the White House admitted last week that there were others on the left skeptical of the healthcare legislation in the Senate that is backed by the President, the Administration did appear particularly irked at the remark by former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean who said, “The best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill.” At briefings for White House reporters before the President left for Copenhagen, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spent considerable time responding to the former Vermont governor/physician’s much-reported salvos against the Senate measure. “In 2004, a presidential candidate wanted to add to the existing health insurance system of our country, which is private sector and employer-based, those that are currently uninsured and ensure that they have accessible, affordable coverage,” said Gibbs. “That’s what Dr. Dean campaigned on in 2003 and 2004. That’s what this bill will do.” He went on to publicly ask Dean “how better do you address those that don’t have insurance?” and concluded, “I don’t think any rational person would say killing a bill makes a whole lot of sense at this point.” Asked if that meant he thought Dean was irrational, Gibbs replied: “I can’t tell what his motives are, to be honest with you.”