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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another (Long) Shot at Cabinet for Kitzhaber?

Mere hours after Tom Daschle announced that he was withdrawing from consideration to become President Obama's secretary of Health and Human Services, the name of

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Mere hours after Tom Daschle announced that he was withdrawing from consideration to become President Obama's secretary of Health and Human Services, the name of John Kitzhaber was being tossed around again.


"I'd like to suggest that President Obama seriously consider appointing one of the two recent doctors-turned-governors for the post: Howard Dean and John Kitzhaber," writes Kari Chishom on BlueOregon. "In their own ways, both have clearly shown an ability to generate grassroots support. Dean did it in his presidential campaign and at the [Democratic National Committee] and Kitzhaber is doing it right here in Oregon with the Archimedes Movement,"  a campaign for national health care reform.

But according to Ezra Klein of the American Prospect blog, Kitz is only in "Tier Two" of the possible Daschle replacements he's been hearing about.

On the plus side, Klein writes, Kitzhaber is an "articulate voice on health reform. Former doctor. Former governor of Oregon. Great media presence."

The negatives? "Doesn't know Washington. Not necessarily good at working with legislatures. Not necessarily good at staying on message. In a way, he's Dean without the baggage."

Not being good at handling legislatures and not knowing Washington would appear to be deal-breakers, since the HHS secretary will be Obama's point man in guiding health care reform through Congress. Also, when Kitzhaber was being talked up after the election as a possible secretary of HHS or Interior, he made it pretty clear that he wouldn't be happy about moving to Washington and leaving his young son behind.

The name of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden also has been thrown out there, but Klein thinks Wyden "probably wouldn't work: He has his own [health care reform] legislation that he's committed to."

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