Online groups: Dr. Dean should run Health Dept.

He still has online steam. Although President Obama is reportedly considering other choices for secretary of the department, online liberals are calling on Howard Dean, who is a doctor.

Five years after a Netroots candidacy didn't quite get him into the White House, online support for Howard Dean is back.

Fans of the former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate are turning to Facebook and online liberal mainstays like FireDogLake to make the case for why President Obama should nominate Dean to run the Health and Human Services Department.

After Obama's first choice for the job, former senator Tom Daschle, withdrew his nomination because of tax problems, the Obama administration told The New York Times that "there was no Plan B." Yet online, the choice appears obvious.

DeanForHHS.com

At least three Facebook groups exist to urge members to spread the word about Dean's qualifications, both to other citizens and their elected representatives. The group "Appoint Howard Dean to HHS!," which has nearly 5,000 members, directs people to call the White House comment line and contact the White House through its online contact form. It gives people talking points to use, such as the fact that "teen pregnancies decreased 49 percent (in Vermont) during Governor Dean's tenure."

The creators of the group on Monday launched their own Web site, DeanForHHS.com, which similarly urges visitors to contact the White House and members of Congress. The site also features a page with highlights of Dean's record as Vermont governor, a list of prominent people who support his nomination, and press coverage of Dean's potential nomination.

It's not just Dean's Facebook friends asking for his nomination, though. The liberal blog FireDogLake has started a petition for Dean's nomination that will be delivered this week to Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a major proponent of health care reform. A handful of writers and political activists have advocated for Dean's nomination at the Huffington Post, the news aggregator and commentary site.

Commentary in support of Dean leading HHS from TruthDig.com has gained traction on the Web, and the blog Talking Points Memo calls Dean "someone who actually helped revive the Democratic party through his 50 state efforts the last two elections, and who actually is a doctor and ran his state effectively and economically."

Despite all the online chatter for Dean, Obama is considering a handful of other governors and former governors for the job, the Times reported, such as Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius.

While the online political movement Dean helped drive benefited Obama during his campaign, Obama may not be interested in what the Netroots movement has to say about this appointment, according to the Huffington Post. An unnamed Democrat told the site that the administration does not want to appear to be "bending to the demands of the left."

 

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