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Hartmann writes: "Behind the scenes as the Koch Brothers, Sarah Palin and Fox News fought to defeat progressive health care reform."

Sarah Palin, David Koch (photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Agostini/Mark Lennihan)
Sarah Palin, David Koch (photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Agostini/Mark Lennihan)

The Right-Wing Plot to Stop the Public Option

By Thom Hartmann, Salon

10 November 13


Behind the scenes as the Koch Brothers, Sarah Palin and Fox News fought to defeat progressive health care reform.

he Koch Brothers have been behind mind-boggling amounts of political spending.

Koch Industries itself has spent more than $50 million lobbying since 1998. But Jane Mayer, with The New Yorker, cautions, "Only the Kochs know precisely how much they have spent on politics."

According to tax records, between 1998 and 2008, the Kochs have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through charitable organizations, with much of that money winding up in the hands of political organizations, too.

Mayer writes, "The three main Koch family foundations gave money to thirty-four political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct. The Kochs and their company have given additional millions to political campaigns, advocacy groups, and lobbyists."

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy produced a report in 2004 questioning the charitable nature of the Kochs' donations. Their report concludes that the Kochs aren't actually making charitable contributions; they're making investments in ideas that will eventually lead to higher profits. According to the report, Koch foundations "give money to nonprofit organizations that do research and advocacy on issues that impact the profit margin of Koch Industries."

The International Forum on Globalization has mapped the various organizations and individuals that make up the tentacles of the Kochtopus.

They include media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Think tanks beyond CATO, including the American Enterprise Institute, which has received nearly $2 million in Koch cash, and the Heritage Foundation, which has received more than $4 million. Also benefitting from the Kochs are lobbying organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

And the Kochs provided nearly $6 million in funding for Americans for Prosperity, one of those organizations that split off from CSE's tobacco Tea Party in the first decade of the twenty-first century to form the new Royalist-tinged Tea Party after Barack Obama was elected in 2008.

It takes a lot of money to get the entire political and economic class to buy into an ideology that has repeatedly caused massive economic crashes-especially since the last crash was still fresh in everyone's mind.

As Charles Koch told Doherty, "We have a radical philosophy."

The Tea Party, even if birthed by the tobacco companies, was nurtured by multimillionaire Royalists and billionaires such as Charles and David Koch. They spent millions to set up and promote Tea Party organizations, fund rallies, and charter buses to carry people from all around the country to boost participation.

And by the summer of 2009, what appeared to be a full-on grass-roots movement, but in the background was a well-oiled, corporate-funded anti-Obama PR machine, had developed all around the country, complete with mostly elderly white Americans shouting down their congressmen and congresswomen, accusing them of being socialists and pushing secret agendas to raise everybody's taxes and destroy democracy.

But the Kochs weren't operating alone. Born out of the Ailes memo for GOP TV in the 1970s, Fox News was now the most watched cable news network in America. And they did their part to squash any sort of Progressive Revolution, and ensure that the Royalists' counterrevolution succeeds.

Fox News Gets in the Game

Bill Sammon got the memo.

On the morning of October 27, 2009, staffers at Fox News received an urgent message from their boss, the Washington managing editor, Bill Sammon. It had to do with certain wording to be used by Fox anchors when reporting on the health reform debate-in particular, the wording to be used to describe the "Public Option."

Ten months had passed since Barack Obama and a slew of progressive Democrats in Congress were sworn in, promising to break up the Royalists' stronghold in our democracy and economy.

First up was the Royalist dominance in our health care system-the only one in the entire developed world that does not offer health care as a basic human right.

The Royalists knew their grip on our nation's health care system was in danger, so they grabbed ahold of their megaphone to spew disinformation-namely, Roger Ailes.

Fear of "death panels" was one of several myths spun out of the right-wing messaging campaign funded by big for-profit health insurance corporations opposed to any sort of health reform. It was given credence by Sarah Palin in an August 2009 Facebook post in which she wrote, "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

The ironic thing about Palin's message was that so-called death panels were actually a very real thing in America. Every single day, death panels at for-profit health insurance corporations determine whether or not it's worth paying out a certain claim or signing on to a certain lifesaving medical procedure. In those cases, a "subjective judgment" is made on how a cancer patient's chemotherapy will affect the corporation's bottom line.

It was exactly this sort of abuse that President Obama's Affordable Care Act was trying to curb. But in the perversion of the health reform debate, somehow that message got reversed. And even though there was no such thing as a "death panels" provision in the health reform bill, it was an issue that dominated much of the health care debate in the summer of 2009.

Another myth was that the president's health reform would amount to a government takeover of the private health insurance industry. Given the antigovernment fervor sweeping the nation after thirty years of bad government under Royalist Republicans, this myth gained a lot of traction.

The Royalists warned that President Obama was taking over the American health care system with all its advanced MRI machines and laser surgeries and cutting-edge medication, and transforming it into a socialized, rationed health care system like the ones that were killing off millions of people in "Communist Europe." It was a myth that everyone who lives outside the United States, in particular in Canada and Europe, regarded as patently absurd. Europeans have far better health care results than Americans, and nearly every single person I've talked to from a nation that has a single-payer system told me they prefer their health care system to mine any day of the week, thank you very much.

But Royalists were able to find a handful of Canadians who'd had a bad experience with their home health care system and paraded them around as victims of "socialized medicine." Eventually, like the "death panels" myth, the government takeover myth stuck, too.

It grew out of the Public Option component of the health reform law.

In some parts of the country there was only one health insurance choice for consumers. One big for-profit health insurance corporation held a monopoly over the local market and could therefore charge whatever they liked and treat their customers however they liked. To inject some competition (the stuff Royalists claim to love) into the market, a government health insurance program was conceived that would serve as a more efficient and compassionate alternative to private health insurance plans. In the proposed health reform legislation, this alternative was known as the Public Option. The idea is simple, give people a choice and let the free market decide.

The Public Option was a far cry from what progressives wanted, which was a single-payer system. But if private health insurance corporations suddenly had to compete, then at least prices would get lower and quality would get better. Royalists hated the idea, as you would expect, since their corporate donors knew that more competition in the markets meant that less money could be diverted to the bonuses of health insurance executives such as "Dollar" Bill McGuire, who made a billion dollars working at United Healthcare.

So Fox News took up the cause. The subject of the Bill Sammons October 27, 2009, e-mail was: "Friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the 'public option.'"

This e-mail was later obtained by the media-watchdog group Media Matters. It read in full:

1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.

2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."

The e-mail continued with two more "reminders" from Sammon about how to talk about the Public Option:

3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government- run plan."

4) When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.

Fox anchors did as they were told, and suddenly the phrase "Public Option" vanished from the Fox News airwaves.

Why the name change? Why call it a "government option" rather than its legal name, the "Public Option"?

The answer: polling.

About two months earlier, on the same airwaves, Republican pollster Frank Luntz went on The Sean Hannity Show and let slip a critical Republican messaging strategy. In regard to the Public Option, Luntz told Hannity, "If you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split . . . [but] if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." After all, a "government option" implied a government takeover of health care, which meant socialized medicine.

Hannity himself was blown away and immediately noted that Luntz made "a great point" and that from then on Hannity himself would use the term "government option."

A new message was born.

Here was the Washington managing editor of Fox News, Bill Sammon, instructing his news anchors to use poll-tested terms that would help Republicans sway the public's opinion against President Obama's health reform law. It was plain-and-simple propaganda.

A few months later, Fox News's manufactured fear of a "government takeover of health care" successfully forced Democrats to drop the Public Option from the health reform law. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+33 # keith brooks 2013-11-10 16:13
um...correct me if i'm wrong, but hadn't Obama already made a back-door behind the scenes deal with the health insurance industry not to include a public option, all the while leaving nancy Pelosi swinging in the wind when she declared a public option to be an essential part of the health care bill ?
+19 # ericlipps 2013-11-10 17:41
Quoting kbro:
um...correct me if i'm wrong, but hadn't Obama already made a back-door behind the scenes deal with the health insurance industry not to include a public option, all the while leaving Nancy Pelosi swinging in the wind when she declared a public option to be an essential part of the health care bill ?

I've heard that, too. I'm not 100 percent sure it's true, but if it is, it's one more example of Obama leading his party on only to leave it in the lurch.

Plainly this is a man whose feet have to be kept to the fire if he's to deliver on the soaring promises he makes.
+39 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:02
Well let's also be realistic. It was the AMA, AHIP, PhRmA!, and other pro-business industry groups who derailed the Clinton healthcare plan. If such a deal happened between Obama and these industry groups I don't necessarily fault him for it. They had the power to completely derail the bill.

But, as I posted elsewhere in this thread, that any bill passed in a miracle. I do agree that Obama should have fought for the public option and single-payer more; but, in the end, I just don't see how anything other than the ACA passes. That's especially even more so after Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

The bottom line is that American opinions toward government are going to have to significantly change. Right now too many Americans don't have a positive view of the government and think that it can do nothing right. Until those opinions change the public option, let alone the public option, are nonstarters politically.
-36 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 18:21
I don't think you would fault Obama if he was caught red-handed stealing toys from Santa.
+45 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:24
To be blunt I know the reality. It was either pass the ACA--or nothing at all. It meant either passing less than ideal health reform versus not doing anything at all. And given that Clinton had failed, had Obama failed, there would have been no other effort to do anything for at least another 10 to 15 years, if not longer. No President would have tried, knowing what happened to Clinton and what would have happened to Obama.

I agree that the ACA is imperfect and wasn't the best bill, but it was much better than the alternative--al lowing the current system to stay. And someone who lost a relative who didn't have insurance, while some of you complain about the ACA, it is a big deal to me.
-11 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 20:11
It was pass the ACA or nothing at all, because nothing at all was tried.
+18 # Rain17 2013-11-10 22:19
Where were you going to find the votes? That's the ultimate question here. And, at the end of the day, the votes for single-payer were not going to be there. They were never going to be there.

You can get angry, complain, and blame anyone and everyone under the sun for that fact. What some people here continue to ignore is that all previous efforts at getting ANY universal healthcare bill had failed up until the ACA passed. That ANY bill ended up passing is a miracle.

I will agree that the messaging and the negotiating strategy were poor. No disagreement from me on that point. But at the end of the day, given where the politics on that issue were at the time, I just really don't see how anything else could have emerged.
-11 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 14:57
So President Obama was lying when he campaigned on single-payer, wasn't he?
+2 # Merschrod 2013-11-11 16:54
Probably not - he just got a dose of reality once he started into the project.
0 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 21:37
So your assertion was that he was too stupid to realize what Republicans are like. I wish he had asked me. I'm younger than he is, and yet I knew, as far back as the '80s what Republican politicians are made of.

For some reason, President Obama (the 3-dimensional chess player) is so stupid that he had to become president to have this understanding.

I'm sorry, but I don't disrespect the president's intelligence as much as you do.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-11 22:33
Again, where were you going to find the votes? At the end of the day that's all that matters.
-1 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 23:15
Again, he thought he had them when he was running for president, and then, immediately, and preemptively put it "off the table" as soon as he was in office.

At the end of the day, where did the votes come from? Republicans?

Politics isn't the art of doing the easy. The ACA wasn't easy. Repugs still haven't given up on destroying it (by the way, they "don't have the votes" to destroy it, but they're still trying).

Politics is the art of LEADING.

If he didn't have the votes, why did he promise it on the campaign trail? No matter how many times you avoid that fact, it won't go away.

Once again, you have to answer. Is he an idiot, or a liar?
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-12 18:03
Probably somewhere in between. But at the end of the day, while I concede that the ACA is not single-payer, that it passed is a miracle. That bill at least curtails some of the worst abuses in the system.

I also think that Obama was woefully idealist in his approach to governing. I think that part of him believed "that he could change Washington".

I guess that, when it comes to the ACA, I view it from the prism of someone who lost a relative who didn't have insurance. And I'm grateful that it passed so that other people might avoid that fate.

Yes I wanted the perfect like you did, but I'll gladly accept the good--or just the good enough.
+1 # Billy Bob 2013-11-12 20:16
Here's the problem with your rationalization s. President Obama agrees with them. Candidate Obama DID NOT.
+3 # Rain17 2013-11-12 21:37
Could it have been a matter of Obama intending to go for it; and, once he took office, realizing that there was no way he could get it done?
+21 # lorenbliss 2013-11-10 18:42
Amen. Note too Mr. Hartmann's perplexing use of the term "Royalist," when in fact what he means (but is obviously afraid to say), is "capitalist."
+3 # bingers 2013-11-13 00:45
Oddly, now over 60% of AMA member doctors support the ACA.
+4 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-11-10 18:19
I believe this to be historically accurate because for the insurance companies to not just go along with it but profit from it, and to get DINOs to vote for it, there could be no 'public option' so Barack 'turncoat' Obama demanded that it be left out. He is either not as smart as he sounds, or he has no balls, or he is a DINO also, or he is all three. After all, he frequently said in his first two years, "That is what should be done, now make me do it"! No truer words has Obama ever spoken!
+6 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:25
Where were you going to find the votes for it? I guess that, whenever I hear people on this and other left-wing boards complaining, no one tells me how the votes would have come up. No one tells me who would have changed their mind.
+28 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 20:14
How many Republicans cooperated, with the ACA, as it stands? Do you think they aren't trying everything in their power to destroy it right now?

When you say, "where were you going to find the votes for it", be honest. You're not talking about Republicans voting against it. You're talking about Democrats.

And you're absolutely right. We have the ACA, instead of actually fixing our health care problems, because too many Democrats are also in bed with the insurance industry.
+11 # Rain17 2013-11-10 22:09
And that's because those Democrats come from politically marginal to red-leaning states and districts. In those ares single-payer, let alone the ACA, is not popular. Their constituents don't support it.

No Republicans cooperated on the ACA and they were never going to. I think Obama wasted precious months trying to convince both Senators Grassley and Snowe to support healthcare reform. From the beginning it was clear they were going to be no votes.

Again, if you want single-payer, you're going to have to significantly change Americans' opinions of the government. Most Americans don't have a positive opinion of the government or think it can do anything right. Today single-payer evokes cries "socialized medicine", "healthcare rationing", and "losing the right to pick your own doctor".

I wanted single-payer. I support single-payer but enough other Americans don't right now. Maybe in 15-20 that might change. I've listed the reasons in another post in this thread.
+8 # Lolanne 2013-11-11 08:32
[quote name="Rain17"]. . .Again, if you want single-payer, you're going to have to significantly change Americans' opinions of the government. ...

I pretty much agree with your posts on this issue, Rain17. As for changing opinions of the gov't, the only way that's going to happen is with major campaign finance reform. We'd be fools to trust gov't now, when practically everybody in it is up for grabs by whoever gives them the most money. There was already too much money in politics, and then CU came along and made the whole problem infinitely worse. Trust gov't? Yeah, when pigs fly! Or when campaign finance reform removes the piles of cash from the process. And yes, the Dems are in hock to their benefactors too, though probably not to as great a degree. Republicans are flagrant in their ideology, policies and messaging -- it is perfectly clear they either really agree or adopt their positions to please their puppet-masters. Dems not quite so openly, and they don't receive as much support, but they still get too much to make really big waves that might actually accomplish some of their stated goals.
We have a rotten system, and until we get the big bucks out of it, I don't see how anything can really change.
+8 # Merschrod 2013-11-11 17:00
Once the ACA starts delivering the goods, then the publich will start to have a better picture of what government can do and there will be greater demands for more options such as start lowering the age for medicare and increasing the participation of the youngsters into Medicare.
+8 # Rain17 2013-11-11 22:36
Yeah I agree that Citizens United has tainted our political system.
+6 # Merschrod 2013-11-11 16:57
Yes, he wasted time trying for "bipartisan ship" when he could have gone it alone while he had the majority in both houses.
+5 # Rain17 2013-11-12 20:08
You are 100% correct about that.
+8 # Cassandra2012 2013-11-11 13:12
Baucus in particular was always against any health care bill, but most especially the public option as he was a lackey in bed with the insurance industry, and shilled for them in the Senate = a shameless DINO.
+5 # Rain17 2013-11-12 20:29
Yes Baucus was awful. I won't miss him when he isn't in the Senate next year.
+15 # engelbach 2013-11-10 22:22
Obama never attempted to use the bully pulpit to appeal directly to the electorate, even when it was clear that what the majority of the public wanted was the public option or single payer.

Aroused constituencies can have an effect on how representatives vote — if they want to be re-elected.

You can argue all you want that "we didn't have the votes." But there's no way to know, because there was no fight for them.
+16 # Rain17 2013-11-10 22:32
What I do agree with you on is that Obama should have used the bully pulpit more than he did. He messed up the messaging royally.

But the right was much better at "arousing their constituency". Soon after the inauguration their groups were already airing commercials. They were better organized.
+8 # Salus Populi 2013-11-11 12:33
What we need politically [that is, in the crackpot "realistic" precincts of the Beltway], aside from getting DINOs and Rethugs out of the House, is a Sam Rayburn or an LBJ in the Senate. (Public demand helps, but sometimes needs an additional boost.) They knew how to twist arms: "That new defense plant you want to open up near Milwaukee? I'm afraid that's just not going to happen. Now if you were to change your mind and support this plan to increase competition in the health insurance industry that the President proposed, I might be able to persuade my friends in the Pentagon that even though labor costs are higher in Wisconsin than in Georgia, there are good reasons for the Milwaukee location. But Senator, you know there's a price for everything, so the question is, are you willing to pony up to pay that price? If you are, I can guarantee full support from the DNC for your re-election campaign next year, as well as all those jobs at the plant. But let me know if I can count on you before Thursday, so I can count upu the votes."
0 # Merschrod 2013-11-11 17:03
Yes, LBJ was some piece of work. Obama just does not have the gumption, Reid is comatose and Pelosi is a turncoat. - not mitch to work with with that trio - the Republicans lucked out!
+4 # Rain17 2013-11-11 22:32
There's another point that many on RSN fail to acknowledge when it comes to LBJ versus Obama. LBJ had significantly larger Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, much larger than Obama ever has.
+2 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 23:36
Instead of comparing him to LBJ, why not compare him to Reagan? Let's discuss the make-up of Congress during Reagan's presidency.

Good thing for Republicans and their brand, Reagan didn't follow your timid advice.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-12 18:13
Reagan had 55 Republicans in 1981. The Democrats controlled the house. But Reagaon won both of his elections by landslide margins, larger than what Obama has ever won by. He won more than 40 states in 1980 and 49 states in 1984. Arguably he had a larger mandate.

By 1980-1981 the right had successfully spent more than a decade arguing against government and higher taxes. They had won the messaging war. On top of that a majority of Americans blamed Carter and the Democrats for the economic malaise of the time. Coupled with the Iran Hostage crisis and inflation, Carter was perceived as such a failure that Reagan had a significant mandate.
-1 # Billy Bob 2013-11-12 20:24
Bush Jr. played HIS mandate too. In fact, he played the hell out of it. Did HE win by more than Obama too?

Either make the case that "we didn't have the votes"


say "the problem is messaging".

You can't have it both ways. If Obama's problem is "messaging", then you admit there's a lot more to it than the temporary appearance of how many votes "you can get".

If the votes are either there or they aren't, then messaging isn't an issue. If messaging matters at all, that means, by definition, that it IS possible to get something done and that the votes CAN be there if you're willing to fight for them.

Obama DID have the votes needed to get elected, didn't he. AND those votes were largely supplied by voters who are generally too apathetic to bother, because "finally we had a true liberal who seemed willing to fight".

The widespread viral anger directed at him from the left, comes from the fact that he campaigned FOR OUR VOTES in 2008. He didn't campaign as a grand-deal betrayer who's interested in making preemptive concessions, moving the bargaining chips 90% of the way toward Republican end goals.

He didn't bother to tell us that. He told us he'd fight. He lied.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-12 21:14
Messaging is a major problem. The right has become so successful because, after decades of using their think tanks, experts, and PR firms, they've convinced many people that their assumptions on major policy issues are correct. You are expecting Obama to somehow reverse more than thirty years of right-wing policies in one to two terms.

I do agree with you that Obama has handled negotiations poorly on various issues. He handled the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations horribly. And he is wrong to continue to push for the "Grand Bargain". On both of those issues I agree with you.

Again, if you want more liberal policies, the key areas to work on are messaging and local politics. I've repeated myself several times, but the local level is often the farm team for higher offices. And it's much easier to enact policies at the local level than it is at the federal level. Also again the left would fare better if it learned effective PR techniques and messaging.

I don't see Obama as a "betrayer" because I didn't make him out into something he wasn't. I didn't see him as a Bernie Sanders or a Dennis Kuchinich. Apparently you did. And that's where the disappointment comes form.
+14 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-10 20:23
Think most intelligent people are "on" to Sara Palin. If Palin is against an idea, think most people believe she was bought out and that the idea she is against probably will turn out to be a good one.
+2 # Billsy 2013-11-11 16:09
As I recall it was Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT who as committee chair, declared the public option "off the table" when the ACA was first being drafted. There is ample blame to go around among Senate Majority Leader Reid, Obama et. al. who caved due to the corrosive influence of corporate donations and the acid drip of faux news and ms. palin's "death panel" meme.

It's far too easy to assign blame to a single personality rather than a corrupt system. I have grown weary of arguing facts with poorly informed andbitter vitriolic relatives and friends who seem to obtain ALL their information from cable news and tabloid press. It's easier to demonize all mainstreamTV news at this point. Anyone who makes vital decisions based on political ads and cable news is likely to be misinformed. Too bad so few have the spine to cast a vote for an independent candidate. At present, only a mere handful of representatives appear to be acting as populist free agents: among them, Sens. Warren and Saunders, Reps. Kuzinich and Lee. No doubt there are numerous others but their voices are drowned out by the chorus of political machine voices.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-12 22:14
Unfortunately that is the electorate that we have. Most people are more concerned about their families, their favorite TV show, their favorite football team, American Idol, their favorite reality show, and movies that are out. Very few people look up the issues or really do any research of the facts.

That's why messaging matters. Republicans and conservatives know how to appeal to voters like that. Democrats and liberals don't.
+2 # bingers 2013-11-13 00:52
Yeah, the left has this drive to enlighten the people with facts, but the people get their true enlightenment from bumper sticker sayings which the right are masters of. The left really needs to tap people like Lewis Black to write their arguments and bumper stickers.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-13 01:01
They need to create messages that are brief--and to the point. They need a message that can be remembered in one or two soundbites.
+32 # Rain17 2013-11-10 16:22
Well here I blame the left. I remember that, not soon after the inauguration, right-wing groups like Conservative for Patients Rights and Patients United Now were already blasting the airwaves. They were running ads about "the horrors of Canadian healthcare" and warning about a "government takeover". They featured Shona Holmes and her "horror story" about how she supposedly couldn't get a procedure that she needed in Canada (although other media sources questioned the story later).

By May of 2009, after months of these ads running, I knew the healthcare bill was in deep trouble. By the summer, when the media focused on "death panels" and armed Tea Party supporters showing up at town hall meetings, it was clear that the bill was on life support. The right-wing groups had successfully shifted the narrative on their terms.

Where were the left-wing groups? Where were the commercials about people who couldn't get insurance, the ones who suffered financial ruination, others who died because they couldn't afford treatment, people who had their policies canceled retroactively, and so forth? Where were the ads with THEIR stories? I didn't see them.

And I don't want to hear the often-said liberal excuse that "there wasn't any money". Yes money is an issue but it's not everything. One or two decently-produc ed ads could have made a significant difference. But the pro-reform side didn't even start running ads until the summer, when it was too late.
+40 # Rain17 2013-11-10 16:34
What doomed the public option was there was no PR effort to advocate for it. And the name itself--"the public option" suffered from poor messaging. What do most Americans think when they hear the word "public"? It carries negative connotations, along the lines of "public assistance". And given that many Americans believe that government can do nothing right it was a fatal messaging flaw.

This post from DKos epitomizes my view on the issue:

(And it's one that many people here on this site should read).

The bottom line is that the right is much better at messaging and persuasion. The left sucks at it royally. What the right can say in one or two short, brief, and to-the-point sentences, the left takes paragraphs. What's sorely missing is someone who actually understands marketing, messaging, and public relations. Most Democratic consults and liberals just don't and suck at it.

Maybe if the pro-reform side had started a messaging effort soon after the inauguration that stressed:

1) That healthcare should be a fundamental right for all Americans
2) That the insurance companies are the death panels
3) The stories of insurance company abuses
4) What the public option would have offered

Maybe the final outcome might have been different. Instead all we heard about were "death panels" and "the government takeover of healthcare".
+19 # Donna Fritz 2013-11-10 16:52
I'm certain that's all true, Thom, but you're extremely naive or misinformed if you believe the Dems ever had any serious intentions on passing a public option.

From an excellent article by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, MD. entitled "Obamacare: The Biggest Insurance Scam in History" (Btw, you should have them on your show):

"What most people did not understand at that point was that the public option was not only a non-solution to the health care crisis but that it was not even destined to be in the final legislation. Senator Max Baucus reported in March 2009 that it was a "bargaining chip" to get health insurers to accept regulations. Glenn Greenwald exposed this more fully when the Democratic leadership in the Senate actively worked to keep the public option from being included in the Senate health bill. The public option was just part of the con."
+14 # Rain17 2013-11-10 17:16
Well, as someone who lost a relative because she didn't have insurance, the ACA was a big deal to me. The ACA would have arguably saved her life--or, at the very least, have given her a fighting chance--and she could have been able to get coverage. That "insurance scam" will save many people's lives.

I agree that the ACA isn't perfect by far, but it's probably the best that we could do given our current political system. Read my post later in the thread. I've said it a million times in threads about healthcare reform, but too many Americans are hostile to the idea of "single-payer" for the reasons I listed below. American opinions toward the government are going to have to significantly change before single-payer, let alone, the public option becomes politically viable.

The key factor here is persuasion. Right-wing groups have spent decades convincing Americans, including many liberals, that their assumptions on various public policy issues are correct. If single-payer is ever going to have a realistic chance of becoming reality an aggressive persuasion effort over the next 5-10 is going to have to take place. But in the short to medium term, given the attitudes in our current society, it is politically a nonstarter with just too many people.
+7 # Doll 2013-11-11 06:50
Rain17, I understand. My uninsured daughter died last January of "natural causes". She was only 52.

As for the public option, maybe it can only be had at the state level - then grow from there. Vermont is already trying to get the ball rolling.
+2 # Merschrod 2013-11-11 17:18
The VT and then state by State approach is one way to systematically work towards universal coverage.

Daughter # 3 is in VT, Daughter #2 is in Canada, and Daughter # 1 is in France - So we know the excellent services offered, but few Americans know these experiences and the media has not been curious enough to do articles with facts - just sensations supporting biases.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-12 18:22
I think starting at the local level is a great idea.
+28 # Rain17 2013-11-10 17:00
The bottom line is that healthcare reform was always going to be a tough sell. But I still think that the right-wing out-messaged the pro-reform side. That the ACA passed is a miracle, given that all previous reform efforts had failed.

To get single-payer American attitudes toward government are going to have to significantly change. You have too many Americans who believe:

1) The uninsured are all minorities and white trash on welfare who, were it not for their "irresponsible choices", such as having fancy cell phones, flat-screen TVs, laptops, and IPads, could easily otherwise afford insurance.
2) Anyway they can easily qualify for Medicaid, SSDI, food stamps, and other welfare benefits that one can get within minutes of reporting to a government office.
3) If all else fails they can go to the emergency room, which is free and where they don't have to pay.
4) I'll lose the right to pick my own doctor!
5) I'll have to wait six months for that knee replacement I desperately need.
6) Government bureaucrats, not doctors, will make all medical decisions!
7) I'll lose the right to pick my own doctor!
8) Illegals will get all the benefit at my expense!
9) I'll pay higher taxes for a program that won't benefit me.

Believe me, as someone who works in a conservative industry, I've heard these statements thousands of times. And I've even heard them from moderates.
+11 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 18:37
Attitudes don't change on their own. That requires leadership. If politicians are too busy tracking polls to provide leadership, you have the situation we're in right now.

Don't worry though. Right-wing looney politicians are perfectly happy to fill in the void and provide "leadership" of their own. The Twit Party is not "grass roots". It is a Republican ploy. In other words, even the stupidest people in American CAN be lead, if someone is willing to have ideas.

Which brings us to the Democrats, and Obama in particular...

I'm sure that if most of the lemmings decided it was not ok to jump off a cliff, Obama would be right there to agree with them.

Otherwise, I wouldn't expect him to make waves by actually trying to stop them.

Believe me, since you work in one of those conservative industries, you're unaware of the depth and level of anger toward conservative ideology that is seething through American culture right now. People in conservative enclaves always think liberals and liberal ideas don't stand a chance.

This is why we need politicians who are willing to fight for what's right, and we don't have any in this administration.
+6 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:47
I agree that there is "anger toward conservative ideology", but it still manages to win sufficiently at the ballot box. And the larger issue here is that the right-wing has been very effective at getting the "People who Matter" to accept their assumptions on public policy issues. Keep in mind that theirs has been a multi-decade long effort dating back to the the 1970s. They didn't win overnight. Their victories after decades of hard work.

Put in comparison to Nixon. Nixon wasn't really able to do much to advance the right-wing agenda in comparison to later Republican Presidents. It wasn't really until Reagan and the first President Bush that they were able to really start pushing their ideas forward.

If you really want more "liberal ideas" the place to start is probably at the very local level. The Christian Right took over the GOP by starting off small. They won school boards, county boards, mayors offices, city council seats, county clerk offices, and dogcatcher. And it's easier to effect change at the local level.

Again it's going to take a multi-decade effort to change opinions. It took several decades to get here. It'll take just as long to change it around.
+5 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 20:17
It manages to win, because Democrats are unwilling to fight, and unwilling to force the hand of their own politicians.

You can't honestly complain about liberals not voting for the Democratic Party, without at least acknowledging the fact that they have a very legitimate grievance against the Democratic Party.

If you want to see the Democratic Party fractured into 2 minor parties, neither of which can stand up to the Republican Party, keep burying your head in the sand and pretending there's nothing wrong.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-10 21:50
I didn't say "there was nothing wrong". But I think that some of you think that you speak for the entire "base" and you don't. I don't think most Democrats are as liberal as people here at RSN.

I don't see the Democratic Party splitting in two because most left-leaning voters acknowledge that this is a two-party system that is winner-take-all . The US system is not conducive to third parties.

The brutal truth is that the liberalism advocated by most posters here at RSN is hard-sell electorally in many parts of the country. Is it always going to be like that? I don't know; but, at this point in time, it is.

The point that I've been arguing over and over again is that the solution is to organize. If you want more liberal policies the key is to lay the groundwork for them at the local level. The other key is to begin persuasion efforts using effective marketing techniques.
+1 # Billy Bob 2013-11-12 20:30
Most Republicans aren't as conservative as their conservative base either. But the "squishes" in the middle aren't involved enough to be "moved" by any sort of passion whatsoever. They're main concerns are self-interest and not being bothered to think about politics. The Democratic Party is doing a marvelous job of not offending them, while totally ignoring any convictions.

The point I've been making over and over is that, THAT is why Democrats NEVER get anything substantial done, unless it's basically a light version of a Republican idea.

If you want to discuss local politics, fine. But this isn't a discussion of local politics. This is about the President of the United States and Congress. Your argument that liberalism isn't allowed on the national stage is getting tiresome.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-12 20:56
I'm not saying that "it's not allowed on the national stage". What I am saying is that what's needed is effective messaging, organizing, and marketing.

And yes the local level matters A LOT. Quietly the right took over many state legislatures, where they are aggressively implementing the ALEC agenda. And at the state level many ideas that eventually become popular nationally start there.

Local politics matters a lot because candidates who win obscure municipal offices usually run for Congress or Senate eventually. If you want more liberals elect4ed, creating a "farm team" is important.

At this point in time you are not going to get a more liberal president. You just aren't. Maybe the much-beloved Senator Warren could run for President or maybe even be in the #2 slot. But Dennis Kuchinich or Bernie Sanders aren't going to be elected president anytime soon.

I guess that I could say that someone running on an RSN-style agenda could win elections outside of places like San Francisco and other dark blue areas, but I'd be lying. At this point in time the most "liberal" Democrats you will get is someone like Obama or Clinton unless a dark horse emerges who can actually win the general election. Maybe Sherrod Brown could be competitive.

What you don't get is that the right didn't get results overnight. It took decades of hard work, something the left has not done and failed miserably at. The left continues to lose the war of messaging.
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 20:19
And, by the way, the Christian right did NOT take over the Republican party starting small. National politicians used them in the late '70s to cash in on their anger toward the rest of us.

These things don't happen slowly and incrementally. They happen quickly, when national politicians MAKE them happen.
+3 # Texas Aggie 2013-11-10 20:40
Actually they do start incrementally. The first think tanks were all right wing and they started giving some sort of validity to right wing ideas. Then the right wing sort of took over.

While it's true that the repubs used the christianists as boots on the ground, the right wing in general began at the school board level and worked up. At one time most governors and state legislatures were Democratic, but what are they now? And they got that way before W and his minions came along.
+8 # Rain17 2013-11-10 21:41
I think that progressives and liberals might be better off--at least in the short term--focusing on local offices and state legislatures. Those positions are springboards to higher offices.

The other thing is that, in the state legislatures, a lot of damage is going on. Groups like ALEC quietly invested a lot of money in legislatures while the left was distracted on national issues.

Those local offices may not be sexy, but they are important for the reasons I stated above.
+1 # Billy Bob 2013-11-10 20:24
It's already been over 70 years, since the idea of single-payer first came up. How many more decades do you honestly think we can afford?

Your unwillingness to accept ANY culpability on the part of the Democratic Party not only defies logic, but also makes it much more difficult for people like me to keep arguing against the 3rd party morons who'd rather see Republicans win everything than soil themselves voting for the lesser of two evils.

If the Democratic Party (and its apologists) continue to be so deaf to very real complaints, and so arrogant that they're willing to just write off and insult their core voting block (actual LIBERALS), I don't expect the Party to win ANYTHING substantive in the next few DECADES while we all wait for your stars to align.

Oh wait!...

That's what's already happening, isn't it?
+6 # Rain17 2013-11-10 21:28
I'm not "apologist" for the Democratic Party. Hardly. I don't agree with how Obama has handled the messaging behind healthcare. And I do agree that he compromises too much away.

As for "how many more decades it will take" before we get single-payer I can't answer that. The problem, which you and other people here refuse to even acknowledge, is that it is politically a nonstarter with too many Americans. I've listed the reasons why, every time it has been proposed, it has failed miserably. Yes it polls well; but, when actual policies get proposed, support drops like a rock.

You and a lot of people here at RSN assume that most Democrats think like people here. You are only one part of the "base", not the entire base. Despite what you think, if you look at most polls, the vast majority of Democrats still approve of Obama's performance.

If you want single-payer here is what I suggested in the other threads:

1) Start organizations whose only mission is persuasion.
2) Learn effect market, messaging, and public relations.
3) Work at the very local level.

If you want a "more progressive" Democratic Party I would say that the best place to start is at the very local level. The Christian Right took over the GOP by running for school board, city council, dog catch, and other obscure municipal offices no one cared about. Those are the springboards to higher offices and the places where it is most easy to make changes.
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 21:39
You left one out:

4) stop electing electing Presidents who campaign on single-payer with no intention of actually pursuing it.
-3 # Rain17 2013-11-11 22:39
+25 # MindDoc 2013-11-10 18:02
"Single payer"... "Public option".... these are not the same.

I find it strange (for lack of better word) to focus only on Fox's memo running 'public option' into the ground to remove it from the 'echo chamber'. Equally strange: the 'public option compromise' was touted as 'the way to go'. Fox made it a 'straw man' to be rubbed out of our consciousness as being an 'option' at all. The truth is, 'single payer' - which actuaries and physicians and economists all know is most effective and efficient - is not an 'option'! It is civilized, *universal* health care. In civilized, progressive countries (all but the U.S., basically), there is no such name for it. It's just 'health care' - a human right and sign of a civilized society. "Only in America" is it a commodity, not a part of normal daily life but 'merchandise' packaged by insurance companies, skimming the top, like mob 'protection'. We pay 'insurance', not to doctors but to 3rd parties. Not to Government, but to for-profit powerhouses aka insurance companies.

The truth is, 'single payer' means: one's society provides health care (not 'insurance options'). Health care. Period.

The notion of a 'public option' was (imho) step 1 in moving away from single-payer towards keeping the status-quo (insurance profiteering) option. This was early Obama, remember, conceding before even trying to negotiate a better way. For us. We lost. Again.

It is & was disingenuous, IMM, to speak of 'public option'. It must be *universal*.
+20 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:12
Yeah I agree with you. I think that the pro-reform failed by not stating very early on that:

1) Every American has a right to healthcare.
2) Highlighting the horror stories of Americans losing coverage from recession, retroactive cancellations, illness, and so forth.
3) Stating that the health insurance companies were the death panels.
+15 # medusa 2013-11-10 18:14
I guess it needs some personal experience to understand that the present system of health care makes moderate scale problems terminal--finan cially--for lots of people who never dreamed how high a hospital bill is, until they saw one.
+4 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:28
The problem here is that most people don't understand because they haven't been in that situation. You also have large numbers of people who don't understand how health insurance works. Then you have others who think that it's "only those people" who don't have access to coverage.
+11 # Pikewich 2013-11-10 18:25
And long as we continue to react to right wing attacks we will always be fighting a losing retreat from progressive battles.

If we ever go on the attack with progressive ideas and legislation and put the right wing on the defensive we might see some change.

We should learn from them. Reframe the discussion in progressive terms and ram it down their throats, but there is one small problem.

They have 99% of the money.
+4 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:40
What's missing from the left is:

1) Someone who actually knows the principles of effective marketing, messaging, and public relations
2) Organizations whose only mission is to engage in persuasion. These organizations would be in the business of shaping ideas.
3) Experts who, at the drop of hat, can appear on TV shows and repeat well-rehearsed talking points
4) Simple, brief, to-the-point messages that people can understand and remember

That is what is sorely missing. And the "we don't have any money excuse" is BS. The left has sucked at these efforts with the funds they have had. And maybe they would get money from rich liberals if they showed they could be effective.
+18 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-11-10 18:29
Here in Canada, our 'Single Payer' Health system is by no means perfect, but it's a lot better than what you have had in the past & have now.
+4 # Rain17 2013-11-10 18:50
Yeah but you have many people in the US who think that it has:

1) Very long waiting times for medical procedures
2) The government infringing on your right to pick your own doctor
3) Bureaucrats making medical decisions
+16 # Donna Fritz 2013-11-10 18:53
The problem is that America has no real left. Both major parties are business parties. The Democratic Party leadership never listens to the ideas from the largest caucus in Congress - the Progressive Caucus. In Europe the Democrats would be considered a center-right party. The Democratic party leadership never advocated for a public option let alone single payer. It was a con job from the git-go.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-10 19:02
Donna, where were you going to find the votes for the public option or single-payer, given the Congress that was in office at the time, especially after Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's seat? Arguably I think that Pelosi would have been able to get 218 votes in the House for it, though it would have been extremely close with no margin for error. She would have struggled to produce the 218 votes.

Who in the Senate would have changed their mind on single-payer, keeping in mind that there was no way in H#ll that Bayh, Conrad, Dorgan, Lieberman, Lincoln, both Nelsons, and Pryor would have supported it? How would you have flipped their votes?

The problem here is that most American don't support "the left" as envisioned by most RSN posters. They just don't.

Think about the recent VA Gubernatorial and Attorney General races. McAuliffe had to significantly outspend one of the craziest Attorney Generals that VA has ever had. The Attorney General's race will likely come down to less 100 votes an Mark Obenshain, who advocated legislation that would have required doctors report miscarriages to the police, and Mark Herring.

Read the post that I wrote upthread. Single-payer is a nonstarter politically for the reasons I wrote above. And until those opinions change it's likely dead on arrival.
+4 # engelbach 2013-11-10 22:26
That's correct.
+17 # m... 2013-11-10 19:00
''The Right-Wing Plot to Stop the Public Option ''


Sure, its a Plot... But a more apt description/tit le would:

The Extreme, In Your Face, 'I-Got-Mine, Screw You and Everybody Else Who is a Lazy, Worthless Piece of Crap Liberal Low Life Who Is Not Like Us and Our Super Wealthy Friends Who Have a Divine Right To Be Greedy Leaders and Rulers Of America You Pathetic, Non-Wealthy-Mis fit Population of Underlings' PLOT to Stop The Public Option and Destroy any Remnants of The New Deal....
+10 # Donna Fritz 2013-11-10 19:18
Rain17: I understand the Congressional challenges. But the fact remains that the Democrats lied to their own base, which largely supported single payer or a public option, by reassuring them that they were going to push hard for a public system or option all the while having no intention whatsoever of actually doing that.

Most Americans don't support "the left" as envisioned by most RSN posters because the Democrats never educate Americans on those things or actually push for them. They're playing good cop/bad cop, all the while pushing for a Republican-lite , corporate-frien dly piece if crap that only pleases their biggest financiers - Corporate America. True progressives need to wake up to the fact that the Democratic Party isn't a progressive party - it's a business party, a corporate party.

If they were really a progressive party and they really wanted to pass progressive legislation, they'd be out there educating Americans on progressive ideas, but they don't do that, do they?

Wake up. You're being conned. There are some truly progressive representative in Congress, like Bernie Sanders, but they're far outnumbered by the Democratic corporatists.

Our only hope is through direct action and civil disobedience.
+2 # Rain17 2013-11-10 21:37
Donna, I understand your frustration. But did you honestly think single-payer was going to happen? I didn't. What many people at RSN and other liberal blogs just can't--or won't--get is that THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE VOTES. THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE VOTES. AND THE VOTES WERE NEVER GOING TO BE THERE FOR IT. ONCE AGAIN THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE VOTES.

I agree that Obama compromised it away way too early. But let's also be candid about it. EVERY OTHER ATTEMPT TO PASS UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE HAD FAILED. CLINTON TRIED TO DO IT AND THE PLAN NEVER MADE IT OUT OF COMMITTEE. Nixon and Senator Kennedy came very close to doing it but couldn't get it done. Indeed, in his final days, Senator Kennedy regretted his inability to get a deal done.

I agree with you, though, on messaging and informing people. And the Democrats routinely suck at messaging and public relations. But generally the left sucks at messaging.

As for Bernie Sanders I think he's a great Senator. I like a lot of what he stands for, but I'm also realistic that he can't win outside of dark blue areas. And someone running on his platform in many other states would be electorally dead on arrival.

I'm not "being conned". The Democratic Party is far from perfect. But I also know that this is the best we can do right now at this given point in time.
0 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 14:59
You should get paid as a customer service rep for the Democratic Party.

"We are sorry for any difficulties you may be experiencing"

"We ask that you please bear with us".

You have everything going for you, but the hold music.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-11 22:45
How would you have gotten single-payer, given the Congress that was in office in 2009? Please tell me how you would magically make it happen. Again you express frustration that it didn't become law. But again you and the others bashing Obama here have yet to show how it could have been done, especially when you factor in the pro-business lobbies and Democrats from red states, where the public option, let alone single-payer, was not supported.

I guess that people don't remember that Clinton tried to get healthcare reform. THEIR PLAN DIDN'T EVEN GET A VOTE! AND NO PRESIDENT OF EITHER PARTY HAD BEEN ABLE TO GET ANY LEGISLATION PASSED BEFORE OBAMA. I guess that those two facts don't matter. That the ACA passed is a miracle.

And yes I will defend the Democratic Party and Obama here because, Lord knows, we could have easily Presidents McCain and Romney. I think that too many people here just have unrealistic demands that most Democrats, even the much-beloved Senator Warren, could not even come close to meeting.
0 # Billy Bob 2013-11-11 23:29
There's no "magic" to it. It requires long sustained effort. How do Republicans plan to get their way, even when they're in the minority of both houses and not in the White House? How do they do it?

Don't tell me they don't manage to do it.

In case you've forgotten, Clinton's attempt was half-hearted and was a generation ago.

I guess you haven't paid attention to how much the country (the voters, not the politicians) have moved to the left since 1992.

Defend him all you want, but lord knows, the people who voted for him didn't ask for Republicans in sheep's clothing.

You, and you only, are doing more to make me see the point of the 3rd party voters more than anyone else on these threads have ever done. I never realized just how arrogant, belligerent, and naïve Democratic voters appear to these people until seeing it from their angle.

Bury your head in the sand all you want, but the anger at the Democratic Party FROM THE LEFT is getting so palpable, it's getting hard to imagine the left getting anything substantial done, until the Democratic Party starts actually listening.

Ever wonder why the country has moved so far to the left in the last 20 years (a demographic reality you can't ignore), and yet, the Democratic Party is still just barely squeaking by in the popular vote of presidential elections?

It isn't because the strength of the right. It's because the many on the left are getting sick and tired of being ignored, and have given up on Democrats.
-1 # Rain17 2013-11-12 18:28
It does require "long sustained effort". On that point I agree with you. And I contend that, up until 2009, there was little "sustained effort" on groups pushing for single-payer. Where were the studies? Where were the stories of people who suffered healthcare abuses? Besides the movie "Sicko", where was the PR campaign for single-payer? Where were the commercials of people who lost their life savings or who died because they couldn't get care? Answer: none of that was going on.

Maybe, after the Clinton plan had failed, had they spent the next 16 launching a full-court press for single-payer, maybe the politics would have been more favorable by 2009. Where were the efforts at the local and state government levels to push for single-payer? They weren't there either.

And then you and others who bash Obama have the gall to blame him for not producing something that the political system simply didn't support at the time. Maybe the final deal could have been better along the margins, but you and I both know that single-payer was not going to happen no matter how loud the President was. You can get angry and bitter, but blame a large section of Americans who continues to resist what they perceive to be "socialized medicine" or "a government takeover of healthcare" to this day. Enough of those people exist to make the public option, let alone single-payer, nonstarters. That is the current reality of our political system, no matter how much you don't to believe it.
-1 # Rain17 2013-11-12 18:41
Yes but Clinton did try and he failed miserably. As soon as the "Harry and Louise ads" aired support for his plan evaporated like water on concrete pavement on a 100 degree day. And those dynamics are still present today.

Again, had those supporting single-payer spent the next 16 aggressively pushing for their agenda, maybe the politics would have been different by 2009. They weren't. Again that the ACA passed is a miracle because, up until then, no attempt at universal healthcare had passed Congress--even during the New Deal era.

Well, if America has gotten so much more "iiberal", why have the Republicans managed to keep Congress most of the time since then? Why is someone like Bernie Sanders not electable in many parts of this country?

Again, if you were to poll most Democrats, I would guess that more than 80% approve of President Obama. Maybe you're part of that other 20%; but, if they were truly unhappy, his rating among Democrats would be significantly lower. They apparently don't share the same hostility toward him that you do. His rating among Democrats has probably fallen over the last few months admittedly, but that's probably due to the fact that his approval ratings among all groups has fallen.

If the country were as far left as you claim someone running on the RSN agenda would win. And I contend that, outside of places like San Francisco, it would very hard to elect a candidate running on the RSN agenda.
0 # Billy Bob 2013-11-12 20:33
I don't have nearly as much time as you do, so by default you "win" the argument, because it's clear that you want the last word. I usually harp on and on more than anybody else, but I've got a lot on my own plate right now, and if you want the pleasure of feeling you've stamped out the fire of legitimate complaints against the Democratic Party (by the "professional left" I guess?), then fine.

I just want you to think about the fact (that you're incapable of admitting) that CANDIDATE Obama, would have disagreed with your strategic analysis wildly.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-12 20:58
It's not about having the "last word". So I'll ask you this question.

What would you do differently going forward?
0 # Billy Bob 2013-11-12 21:08
√ this link:

Read the comments AND GET INVOLVED.

I really need to hear you and "Malcolm" go at each other. I disagree and agree with both of you 50%.

This is like King Kong vs. Godzilla and I'm 10,000 screaming Japanese people.

For what it's worth, I told him what I'd do differently. I've said it many times before over the past 5 years (or so) on these threads.

This is a case where the middle (me) of two extreme opposites (you and Malcolm) is, in no way, "moderate".

Either way, it's an interesting discussion. I don't really have the time to keep up my end of it though. Read what I told him, and you'll get a pretty good summary of what I feel (all in one comment).

And, PLEASE, engage him directly, and as often as possible. You're both the "all-star" players on your own teams. I think I may be the "all-star" of my team as well (since I think I'm the only one on it).

It would do a lot for the general discussion of these threads if the two of you would just tear into each other like Japanese mega-monsters.

Maybe one of you can convince me to come over to your own extreme. Who knows?

When I get a chance, I'll check in and bring popcorn. If I have time, I'll try to keep annoying both of you too, but don't count on it.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-12 21:16
I think that Elizabeth Warren could easily give Clinton a run for her money. She would also be a great VP candidate because she can speak about middle class issues. Another good candidate would be Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
+3 # engelbach 2013-11-10 22:28
Your posts are right on, Donna.

Those making excuses for the Democrats refuse to acknowledge that they always give up without a fight.
0 # Rain17 2013-11-11 22:46
I agree that the "Democrats always give up without a fight". I think that the Democrats compromise way too much. I agree that they handled the messaging and the negotiating on healthcare reform poorly. But I also realize that it is a miracle that the ACA passed.
+21 # Sweet Pea 2013-11-10 19:30
When my daughter was an exchange student in Finland she was sick and needed medical attention. She went to a doctor and presented him with her Blue Cross health insurance card. He told her to put the card away because all people are entitled to medical care. Are the citizens of our country uneducated or just selfish?
+11 # m... 2013-11-10 21:57
MOST Americans are NOT selfish.
But now, the 'SELFISH' few with a LOT of Money and Power and 'Lobby Connections' control the Political Discourse, the National Agenda and most Media Outlets in the Country which now shovel their self empowering Bullshit.
Greater Wealth and Power begets Greater Wealth and Power. So, after 30 years of this, now they have so much wealth and power that they have become openly outrageously arrogant about it and wield it evermore like a fist backed up by a tsunami of Propaganda pouring out of their MEDIA EMPIRE HOLDINGS 24/7.
They wear Flag Pins and stand in front of American Flags and spout their Patriotic Bullshit and 'Self-Made Magnificence' while screwing MANY MANY MILLIONS of their Fellow Americans they seem to have utter contempt for.
And so far, those who can see it all for what it is have not come to a point where their humanity and their financial and economic fears are outweighed by their fear of losing our Democracy to this growing, contemptuous Plutocracy.
And of course, there are the millions of (Lemming) Voters who remain conned by Corporate-Pluto cratic Media into believing what Pluto-Greedster s are selling is the pathway to greater freedom, liberty and prosperity for ALL... When of course it is anything but that.
What America is experiencing and now exporting as the Economic Model for the World is perhaps the Greatest Hoodwinking in all of Human History.
+3 # Doll 2013-11-11 06:42
"Greedsters", I like that term.
+2 # RicKelis 2013-11-11 16:42
about greed: Greed is still a deadly sin, regardless of what Gordon Gecko said in the movie. It will kill the Greedsters - it already has killed them spiritually. When the conscience goes, you are left with a zombie that will perish when there are no more brains to feed on.
+3 # Rain17 2013-11-10 22:22
Sweet Pea, you have too many Americans who resent the idea of "someone getting something for nothing". You have people who really don't care if the uninsured go without care because, in their mind, most of them are "lazy bums on welfare". And this is coming from someone who has had discussions with people like that over and over again.
+3 # Cassandra2012 2013-11-11 13:19
Quoting Sweet Pea:
When my daughter was an exchange student in Finland she was sick and needed medical attention. She went to a doctor and presented him with her Blue Cross health insurance card. He told her to put the card away because all people are entitled to medical care. Are the citizens of our country uneducated or just selfish?

+9 # Donna Fritz 2013-11-10 19:31
Both, Sweet Pea.
+8 # Mannstein 2013-11-10 20:21
@ Donna

You took the words right out of my mouth. Bless you.
+3 # angelfish 2013-11-11 13:17
Wouldn't you think these Cretins would be ashamed of their picayune behavior towards the Have-NOTS? We are the ONLY Country in the Free World that doesn't take care of it's people! Even Cuba, for God's good sake, takes care of her own! WHY is this such a hard sell for the HAVES? The people ARE the Country! If the People are sick and uncared for, SO is the Country! ALL the money pi**ed away by the Kochs, could have funded Shelters for homeless Vets, or provided food, clothing and shelter to poor and homeless Citizens. We are not only, NO Country for old men, we are NO Country for anyone who is a Veteran, Homeless, Sick, Aged or Too Young to fend for themselves! That, my Friends, is Pitiful!
0 # gilletlb 2013-11-12 07:56
The world is being run by corporate colonialism, aristocrisies, oligarchies, etc. as it has been for a very looooong time. Bubbles of independence pop up occasionally (the enlightenment) but how long they last in any form is anyone's guess. The treasure of any group seems to get concentrated in smaller and smaller hands the bigger the whole means of production becomes. Thus business is govt. Disasters like war, depression, etc. will allow bigger bubbles of democracy to arise only to be squashed by the almighty $$$ buying political power in the longer run. The golden goose of even a partial democracy is again being executed by the stupidity of those that find themselves on top of the heap who forget what it took to get there, often by those who preceded them. Elizabeth Warren is staging a gallant fight, along with a few others, so it's up to the masses to really wake up to follow that path and demand it. Too bad an FDR comes around far less often than slick puppets for the right.
Liberals allow this to happen by "seeing all sides of an issue" and not realizing that one cannot "reason" with ignorance, big $$$ and power.

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