Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book 'em Daschle

Former Sen. Tom Daschle must have posed for hundreds of photos during Sunday afternoon’s book signing for “Getting it Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate to Make Way for Health Care Reform.”

“He has always kept true to his beliefs, and he’s really been an advocate for the right things,” said Cecelia Rokusek, who as a University of South Dakota student campaigned for Daschle. “He probably is one of the greatest leaders of our time.”

Oscar Alleyne said he bought the book and had his photo snapped with Daschle because he was “excited to meet a national leader who understands what we do in public health.”

Daschle graciously shook hands and posed for photo after photo with his admirers, some who were so flustered they almost walked away without the book. He asked two young public healthers, “So, what are your plans?” and listened with a delighted expression to each person.

“He’s a great guy,” APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin said as he walked by the book signing.

Pete Stewart, of Lake Worth, Fla., said Daschle is “what politicians should represent.”

Sarah Patrick was state epidemiologist in South Dakota when Daschle was senator and called him “a champion for the vulnerable. He has long lived many of the goals and aspirations of APHA.”

Cherry Morange had Daschle sign a book for her 72-year-old brother, Arnold, a long-time Daschle fan who’s battling prostate cancer.

“This is something that will be a memory forever,” Morange said with a grin.

Daschle said he admired his admirers.

“I’m in awe of so many people who are here because they’ve committed their lives to the cause, and that’s inspiring to me,” he said. “It really means a lot.”

And will we see universal coverage in America?

“I think necessity is going to drive it,” Daschle said. “We just have to create a far more efficient, far more equitable and far more accessible system than the one we have.”

— D.C.

Above, Tom Daschle smiles for the camera with a fan during his book signing at the Public Health Expo. Photo by Donya Currie

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