Saturday, September 12, 2009

Health Care Saturday: Appeasing Cavemen Edition

Smooth Like Remy: Sherrod Brown Is Changing The Conversation.

Senator Sherrod Brown did a good job yesterday on Dylan Ratigan's show of turning the tables on the ConservaDems and putting the pressure on them to support a bill with a public option rather than having liberals and progressives on the hot seat to cave on a bill without one. We just need more Democratic Senators and House members who support a public option to follow his lead and use the same talking points!

DougJ: Smart shoppers

Humor my Broder fixation. He pans Obama’s speech in Sunday’s Post:

But Obama does not tell people: “I want you to get used to the idea that eventually you may not get your coverage from your employer, and you will have to be a smart shopper, looking for the best deal you can get from competing insurance firms.”

Honestly, why stop here? Why not tell people that they need to be smart shoppers, looking for the best deal you can get from competing private police forces and road-builders? Yes, I know some libertarians do favor this, but I doubt Broder does.

Broder has pushed this idea before. What’s especially aggravating is that he pretends to be neutral in the debate, when he’s essentially taking the insurance industry’s side.

And what’s most troubling is that he’s actually accepted accommodations from the Western Conference of Prepaid Medical Service Plans, in violation of the Post’s rules on speaking engagements.

  • commenter MK

    I found this line from his article far more egregious:

    Again, Obama knows better. He knows that unless he can fundamentally reform Medicare, he cannot achieve his goals. He knows he has to move it toward the models of the Mayo and Cleveland clinics and the few communities around the country where networks of doctors and hospitals have committed themselves to high-quality, low-cost medicine.

    Remind me again which party got Medicare recipients so scared that government was gonna take their health care away from them that talks about reforming Medicare got close to political suicide?

Indepenocrat (Daily Kos): New AARP Poll: Obama Turns the Tide

A new poll conducted by the AARP show that Pres Obama's speech to congress has totally changed the landscape. The poll was conducted for folks 45 and over.

Before the speech 70% of respondents said they had at least some questions or concerns about what was being proposed by either party with regard to health care reform. This includes 77 percent of Independents.

After the speech,

• Of those who had questions and concerns prior to the address, nearly three-quarters said that their questions and concerns were talked about or addressed during the speech. This includes 72 percent of Independents.

• Nearly seven in ten of those who reported hearing their questions and concerns talked about or addressed said that they were supportive of the proposals being talked about related to health care. This includes 63 percent of Independents.

• For each political affiliation, a majority of respondents said that reform of the health care system should be a priority for political leaders to address in 2009. This includes 70 percent of Independents.

Also 58% of Democrats and 85% of republicans had concerns before the speech. After the speech 88% of democrats and even 56% of Republicans said their concerns were addressed. Overall 73% said their concerns were addressed.

63% of independents are now supportive of the proposal put forth by the president, along with 43% of Republicans. Overall 68% support the proposal.

76% now say healthcare should be a priority this year, including 70% of Independents and 56% of republicans.

Read more here

As Dems cave to cavemen, meet the pissed off Maddow.

Pulling the trigger on the public option Sept. 11: Syndicated columnist David Sirota explains to msnbc's Rachel Maddow why the inclusion of a trigger mechanism for the public option in health care reform will ultimately mean the public option is never enacted.

Beutler: House Progressive Whacks Conrad and Baucus for Appeasing Heckler

As we've been reporting, Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Max Baucus (D-MT) responded to Rep. Joe "You Lie" Wilson (R-SC) with incredulity by implicitly affirming his false accusation that Democratic health care legislation will be a boon to illegal immigrants.

That move hasn't gone unnoticed, and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)--a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus--has some pretty harsh words for the two.

"The senators are knee-jerking and over-reacting," Grijalva told me today, denouncing the move.

Grijalva has emerged in recent weeks as one of the House progressives most committed to insisting health care reform legislation include a public option.

"Part of the problem with the Finance Committee bill is that it's being done to appease people instead of being done to put something together," Grijalva said, calling the process "tainted" and "discredited" and noting that "the people putting it together are ex-lobbyists."

Grijalva insisted he wants to "set the bar high and not do something that's at the lower common denominator."

"If that happens," he said, "I thnk passage of the legislation will be very, very difficult."

Aravosis: THIS JUST IN: White House agrees with Baucus and Conrad, appeases "You Lie!" Wilson

No snark needed. They got yelled at, and they caved. Again. And as a result, it's going to make the plan more expensive, by decreasing savings we would have reaped by getting illegal immigrants out of the emergency rooms:

Many illegal immigrants must now seek medical treatment in emergency rooms, which by law cannot turn them away. In recent years, the federal government has spent $250 million a year to reimburse hospitals for bills that go unpaid as a result. The White House said those reimbursements would continue.
And our premiums more expensive.
It will probably also make average premiums higher, since the exchanges will be left with a smaller risk pool and there’s no real reason to believe that the subset of undocumented immigrants who are capable of affording an unsubsidized insurance policy are below-average health risks.
So why do it? Because they got yelled at by a crazy guy. (Background on this issue here.)

digby adds:

Well, this worked out so well that the Republicans are going to start screaming "Hitler, Hitler Hitler" at him every time he appears before a joint session. He'll be railing against capital gains taxes and singing about snowflake babies before you know it:


I knew that Baucus and Conrad had gone scurrying to appease the xenophobes, probably just by reflex, but I honestly can't figure out why the White House felt it was necessary to appease this lunatic faction. Apparently there isn't any rightwing lunatic faction so crazy that they won't try to appease it.

I don't get it. Wilson was strongly condemned by sane people everywhere. The only people who backed him were people who are never going to vote for health care reform even if we agree to shoot anyone who looks like a Mexican before they ever cross the threshhold of a hospital (although they'd certainly volunteer to do the shooting.) Whose vote does the administration think they will get with this, anyone know?

Wingnuts: million moran march Edition

Josh Marshall: Speaking of Awards

I'm awarding the little known TPM Excellence in Deft Snark Award to Megan Carpentier of the Air America website for this sentence from a post on AARP's poll on the president's health care speech. The award is granted episodically for path-breaking combinations of AP Style and deadpan humor ...

An overnight poll by AARP shows that Obama's speech on health care helped resolve the concerns of many people over 45 dumb enough to believe braying Republicans that the Administration planned on executing the elderly.

Had I been editing I think I'd have stuck a "who say" between 'Republicans' and 'that'. But that's a minor quibble.

John Cole

And for the record, I am attending the 9/12 rallies tomorrow. Brick Oven Bill and I decided it would be a hoot.

In all seriousness, if any of you are near the million moran march tomorrow, take some pics.

get a brain morans

Josh Marshall: Into the Vortex

A reader reports in from the Conradian heart of crazy ...

Joe Wilson's not the only one bringing the crazy to DC. The town's been invaded by teabaggers.

Was having a drink with a friend at a fancy downtown bar when two well-dressed men start chatting with us. Seemed friendly and normal enough until one asks how big we think the march tomorrow will be -- "250,000? They say all the hotels are full!" I ask, "Are you here for that?" -- and get an earful about how Medicare has a $35 trillion unfunded liability, every letter you mail costs $1 is taxes, and Obama is a Manchurian candidate who wants to create a million-person national civil defense force with a budget equal to the Penatagon's.

Tomorrow should be fun.

Ann Laurie: Best Possible Comment on Glenn Beck’s “9/12″

Today Alex Pareene is my hero:

On 9/12, people in New York (and DC) did not feel as “great” as Glenn Beck. They just felt like shit. They felt scared and confused and depressed… And only an idiot or an actual terrorist would want to always feel like it was 9/12/01. And eight years later, normal people, with brains and souls, have decided that some emotional distance from that disaster is healthier and wiser than trying to recapture the dread.

So thank fucking christ that the Commander in Chief is no longer subjecting the nation to death porn.

No, this year it’s limited to a nutty little cult leader on basic cable who is encouraging his radicalized band of fanatical followers to invade the cities where the tragedy actually happened in order to shock the populace back into fear.

Glenn Beck is an actual terrorist, and the people attending his rally in DC tomorrow are al-Qaeda in America.

This is a really interesting and disturbing conversation.

Right wing fringe finds acceptance in GOP Sept. 11: Mike Lux, CEO of Progressive Strategies, joins msnbc's Rachel Maddow to discuss the Republican Party's mainstream of the most extreme anti-government elements of their political base.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just Imagine: 2 Million TeaBaggers with no Toilet.

Right-wing now selling "You Lie!" bumper stickers
The right wing is rallying around Joe "You Lie!" Wilson as a hero, and even Wilson himself is now backtracking on his apology. And now they're selling bumper stickers. (I'm not going to link.)

Conrad and Baucus' appeasement of Wilson, which we reported on this morning, is the worst possible thing that Democrats could do. And even worse - if you're going to cave to someone, at least don't admit it publicly.

In honor of Baucus and Conrad, we're creating a new category of tags for our site - "bad dems."
Think Progress: When Cantor mentions Obama, GOP rally interrupts with howls of ‘he’s a liar.’

Yesterday, Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, an anti-health reform group pushing for the privatization of Medicare, hosted a Republican rally with congressional leaders from the GOP caucus. House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) endorsed the sentiment of Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) outburst at the President, saying, “Don’t underestimate the amount of emotion that people are feeling…Americans are frustrated, they’re angry, and, most importantly, they’re scared to death.” Later, when Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) began speaking about Obama, he was repeatedly interrupted by howls from the crowd that the President is “a liar.” “Liar, liar pants on fire,” they yelled. Watch it:

Think Progress: Michigan Chamber Of Commerce Embraces Glenn Beck, Invites Him To Be A Keynote Speaker

On his Fox News show this past Wednesday, right-wing extremist Glenn Beck claimed, “The uber-left is in business with big business.” But next Tuesday, Beck is keynoting a U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum in Michigan sponsored by several major corporations, including AT&T, Comcast, and Dow Corning.

Although Beck’s race-baiting and McCarthyism have led a massive advertiser boycott of his Fox News program, the largest business lobby in the United States has chosen to embrace him as the “dinner keynote speaker” for the 2009 “Future Forum” at Michigan State University’s Kellog Forum on September 15th:

Glenn Beck, Keynote Speaker for Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Comcast, AT&T, Consumers Energy sponsoring

Beck has called President Obama a “socialist,” a “Marxist,” and a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people.” It may not come as a surprise that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with its right-wing agenda of blocking health care reform, clean energy legislation, and workers’ rights, is embracing Glenn Beck’s hate and fearmongering.

Tomorrow, Beck is broadcasting live on Fox News from Washington D.C. to promote the “9/12 Project,” Beck’s tearful mobilization against “socialism.” The 9/12 march is bankrolled by right wing organizations such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, the National Taxpayers Union, and These front groups are themselves backed by ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, HealthFirst, and other corporate titans who aim to maintain their windfall profits under the status quo.

The top sponsors of the Michigan event are Comcast, AT&T, and Consumers Energy. AT&T is on the board of the Chamber of Commerce but has pulled its ads from Glenn Beck’s show. Other Chamber members who have stopped advertising on Beck — but are giving him a platform in Michigan — include Aegon, CVS, State Farm Insurance, and UPS.

Sargent: House Dems Bracing For Huge Turnout At Glenn Beck/Tea Party Gathering

Looks like there’s serious concern among Dems about the big 9/12 rally that’s being heavily promoted by Glenn Beck, Fox, and the tea partiers for tomorrow.

A top House Dem leadership aide has emailed a memo to Dem aides on the Hill and outside liberal groups warning they should brace for a turnout of up to two million people, suggesting Dems worry that if enough conservatives descend on the Mall it will amount to a major PR victory for the right.

The aide, Doug Thornell, warned in the memo that the dust-up over Joe “you lie” Wilson has been invigorating conservatives. “It looks like Saturday’s event is going to be a huge gathering, estimates ranging from hundreds of thousands to 2 million people,” Thornell wrote in the memo, which was forwarded by a source.

In another sign of concern, the memo painstakingly detailed a range of turnout predictions from the event’s organizers, such as this one from tea party leaders promising a crowd of up to 1,000,000.

Adding to Dem concern is the fact that Beck recently claimed a major victory in the ouster of former green jobs adviser Van Jones.

The House leadership memo predicting huge turnout could have been written in hopes that it would leak and inflate expectations for turnout, anticipating that it will fall far short. But Dems on the Hill insist they’re genuinely worried about what tomorrow will bring.


Update: Thornell is actually an aide to Chris Van Hollen, not Pelosi. Aplogies for the error. He’s still a senior House leadership aide, however.

Update II: The full memo is right here.

  1. Jenn D | September 11th, 2009 at 03:17 pm

    Again, whether it be 2 million or 2 thousand, I am sooo looking forward to the highlight of the core Republican base!

  2. mike from Arlington | September 11th, 2009 at 03:18 pm

    Haha. If there is really two million people, unless they’ve done some serious coordination with the city for resources, porta potties, food/drink, police presence, they are going to have a near disaster. For the inauguration, they had to bring in police forces from neighboring cities/states to control the crowds.

Beutler (TPM): Democrats Inflate Expectations for 9/12 Rally Turnout

D.C. liberals may be preparing for a significant teabagging onslaught at tomorrow's 9/12 rally, organized by Glenn Beck and FreedomWorks and other mainstays of the tea party retinue. But they're also probably engaging in a bit of sleight-of-hand.

"As you may know, FreedomWorks held a Capitol Hill demonstration yesterday, that turned into an impromptu rally for embattled Rep. Joe Wilson," reads an email from a House leadership aide to other members of Congress. "Now, based off of news reports and comments from leaders in the Tea Party movement, it looks like Saturday's event is going to be a huge gathering, estimates ranging from hundreds of thousands to 2 million people."

For reference, 2 million is just a hair under four times the total population of Washington, D.C., and approximately the number of people who showed up to the history-making inauguration of President Barack Obama. Sound like a bit of an exaggeration? It probably is.

A source at a major liberal organization in Washington says, "one of the things we decided to do was try to raise expectations for turnout," adding that he'd not received this particular House memo.

This is not to say that tomorrow's turnout will be small... but 2 million?!

We've seen this dynamic before. In fact, we saw it just a couple of years ago.

Mitt Romney was known as a relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably "blue" state, who could present himself, with a straight face, as a pragmatic, sane policymaker. Then Romney decided what he really wanted was to be president. Sane, moderate pragmatism wouldn't win over the Republican base, so that persona would have to be cast aside. It was painful to watch, and ultimately ineffective.

Here we go again. Tim Pawlenty was also known as a relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably "blue" state. And like Romney, Pawlenty has decided that what he really wants is to be president. So, in keeping with the predictable model, Pawlenty has decided to go full-on crazy to impress the type of folks who vote in Republican presidential primaries.

Minnesota Republican Tim Pawlenty urged fellow governors on Thursday to more frequently assert state sovereignty over the federal government and suggested that the country may increasingly see states suing the federal government.

Asked by a caller about the option of asserting the Tenth Amendment as a tactic to reject a successful health care overhaul by President Barack Obama during a tele-town hall organized by the Republican Governors Association, Pawlenty said, "that's a possibility."

Speaking generally about the tenth amendment, Pawlenty said the country has not had "a proper federalism debate since Ronald Reagan raised the issue in the 1980s."

"You're starting to see more governors, me and governor [Rick] Perry from Texas, speaking out on this and asserting our tenth amendment rights," Pawlenty said on a call listened to by more than 12,000 people.

Pawlenty's pandering comes just a week after he criticized President Obama's speech encouraging kids to do well in school. The governor argued, out loud, that the White House might have been trying to compile a list of children "for the purpose of a mailing list." It's likely he knew this was moronic, but Pawlenty has some Tea Baggers to impress, and some right-wing ground to make up.

But this ridiculous "Tenther" rhetoric is even more radical. As Ian Millhiser recently explained, "[C]nservatives are increasingly enraptured with tentherism, which claims that landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the VA health system and the G.I. Bill are violations of the 10th Amendment -- and many leading conservative officials are determined to impose the tentherism on the country. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is a tenther, as are Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)."

Tim Pawlenty probably realizes this is insane, but his ambitions have overridden his judgment.

Romney-itis, in other words, has claimed another victim. Regrettably, there is no cure.

Update: Dave Weigel has the full transcript of Pawlenty's comments.

C&L: Countdown: Special Comment About the Shout of "You Lie"

Keith lets Rep. "Wrong-Way" Wilson have it in this Special Comment.

And finally, as promised, a Special Comment about the shout of "You Lie" during the presidential address to the joint session of Congress last night on the matter of health care reform.

The 43rd president of the United States lied the nation into the war, lied 4,343 of his fellow citizens to death in that war, lied about upholding the constitution, and lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

He lied about how he reacted to Al-Qaeda before 9/11 and he lied about how he reacted to Al-Qaeda after 9/11.

He lied about getting Bin Laden, and he lied about not getting Bin Laden.

He lied about nation-building in Iraq, lied about the appearance of new buildings **in** the nation **of** Iraq, and lied about embassy buildings in nations like Iraq.

He lied about trailers with mobile weapons labs in them, and he lied about trailers with Cuban prostitutes in them.

He and his administration lied -- by the counting of one non-profit group -- 532 times about links between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. Only 28 of those were by that President, but he made up for that by lying 231 times about W-M-D.

And yet not once did an elected Democratic official shout out during one of George W. Bush's speeches and call him a "liar."

Even when the president was George W. Bush, even when he was assailed from sidelines like mine, even when the lies came down so thick the nation needed a hat... he was still the President and if he didn't earn any respect, the office he held demanded respect.


Maddow on Liberalism

Terrific! This starts with a reprise of Rachel's superb interview with Obama during the campaign.

Good through government Sept. 10: Rachel Maddow talks about the message of liberalism in President Obama's health care speech before a joint session of Congress.

What Rachel said . . .

Republicans' small angry tent

Sept. 10: Rachel Maddow talks with former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, I-RI, about the way the Republican Party has cast itself as the party of the angry unhinged and whether that can be a sustainable political position.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Carve This One In Stone

Sully's QOTD:
"No doubt, right wing publishers like Regnery and Crown will be beating down Wilson's door today to sign a book deal that will put him at the top of the New York Times bestseller list along with drivel from the likes of Michelle Malkin, who has probably already started writing her biography of Wilson, titled, "The Man Who Spoke the Truth." By the end of the day a Wilson for President web site will be fully functioning if it isn't already. Watch for the announcement on Glenn Beck’s show this afternoon," - Bruce Bartlett.
Sully: About Last Night

A reader remembers TNC's memorable phrase from last fall:

"To paraphrase Carolyn Forche, Obama needs to do exactly would he did last night--slice McCain to lace. But he needs to do it so quietly, calmly and efficiently, that even those who are paid to opine on such things, don't even notice the blood all over the floor."
Just look at this picture . . .
The College Republicans


A reader writes:

Yes, the GOP of 2009 is the party of torture and fiscal recklessness. But as Joe Wilson's outburst last night made clear, it is every bit as much the party of the College Republicans.

Wilson's catcalling was only part of it. This is the party of Colson and Segretti, Atwater and Rove, Kristol and Norquist. It is the party of Joe Wilson and the odious Patrick McHenry, the latter a bad caricature of a South Park or Simpsons character. Just look at them, with the "What bill?" signs around their necks, waving the copies of their "bill" in the President's face as he patiently explained to them why they are so very full of shit.

Optics, not reality, is what matters. Everything can be massaged with a Mission Accopmlished banner, a sympathetic interview on Fox News, or a whisper campaign that your opponent is a faggot.

Juvenile, manipulative, impossibly smarmy, hateful - or at least more than willing to use the weapon of other people's hate - and, above all, relentlessly cynical. To these (mostly) men, politics is not the "art of the possible", not a means for peaceably grappling with the most difficult and complex issues of the day, or for attempting to improve the lives of people you will never meet. It is nothing but a game, one where the object is not just to win but to destroy your enemies with a weird mix of angry slander and junior high insults - and to have a good chuckle while admiring your handiwork.

It is an attitude that enables one to label a respected judge who worked with disadvantaged children a pedophile (as Rove's minions did in an Alabama Supreme Court race in 1994), or to put Sarah Palin on a presidential ticket.

Just as for the neocons it is always 1938, for the professional College Republicans in the House GOP, it is always the annual convention, with the hotly-contested race for treasurer or secretary between one guy from Michigan State and another from Clemson. Accusations of fraud abound, frat boys and bookworms alike go berserk as they see their chances of interning with the RNC slip away, and desperate calls are made to worshipped alumni with the hope that some measure of revenge can be exacted. Nerd libido harnessed to cynical rage.

Welcome to the House the College Republicans Built. For our benefit, President Obama is more than happy to let them live in it.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)

Atrios: Gone And Forgotten

Given how things were from 2001 until the presidential campaign heated up, it's really quite stunning how George W. Bush is utterly missing from our discourse. The conservative movement was for that period all about elevating Dear Leader, and now he's just gone.

Graham's Pseudo-Clap (did anyone see?).

Think Progress: Just four GOP senators applaud when Obama calls ‘death panels’ a ‘lie.’

In his speech last night, President Obama addressed some of the various myths and misrepresentations that have been spread about his health care reform efforts. When Obama called claims that he would “set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill of senior citizens” a “lie, plain and simple,” he received a standing ovation from the Democrats in Congress. Republicans, on the other hand, largely sat on their hands. Watch it:

According to The Hill’s Walter Alarkon, the only Republican senators seen standing and applauding Obama’s dismissal of the “death panel” myth were Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). “Four or five House Republicans also appeared to stand and applaud Obama’s remark, but it’s unclear which ones they were,” writes Alarkon.

Update Nate Silver pointed out last night "that many Republicans didn't stand up and clap when Obama said 'no one should go broke because they get sick.'"

Josh Marshall (TPM): Shaky

Rep. Wilson (R-SC), the new face of Republican opposition to health care reform, just went before the cameras for the first time looking sweaty and sort of shaky like he might be about to cry. I know that sounds a bit like trash talk. But that's actually how he came off, his affect and expressions. He gave a pretty weak rationale for his claims about coverage of illegal aliens and then dashed off. We'll have the video for you shortly.

Wilson also confirmed that the GOP House leadership contacted him after his outburst and told him to contact the White House and apologize.

Here's the video:

Sully: The British Counter-Example

I see a lot of commentary that compares Joe Wilson's "You Lie!" outburst with the ruckus that often happens in the House of Commons. But one thing you are not allowed to shout in the Commons is that another speaker is a liar. A lot of circumlocutions evolved to bypass this - "terminological inexactitude" is my favorite (Churchill, of course) - but the ban is for a reason. Once the opposition starts yelling "You lie!" they have essentially abandoned the deliberative process, by questioning the good faith of a speaker. Without an assumption of good faith or a factual rebuttal, just calling someone a liar abolishes the integrity of the debating process. It ends a conversation. And parliament is about conversation. From the rule book (PDF):

Language and expressions used in the Chamber must conform to a number of rules. Erskine May states "good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language". Objection has been taken both to individual words and to sentences and constructions ‐ in the case of the former, to insulting, coarse, or abusive language (particularly as applied to other Members); and of the latter, to charges of lying or being drunk and misrepresentation of the words of another. Among the words to which Speakers have objected over the years have been blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon and traitor.

The context in which a word is used is, of course, very important. The Speaker will direct a Member who has used an unparliamentary word or phrase to withdraw it.

Members sometimes use considerable ingenuity to circumvent these rules (as when, for instance, Winston Churchill substituted the phrase "terminological inexactitude" for "lie") but they must be careful to obey the Speaker's directions, as a Member who refuses to retract an offending expression may be named or required to withdraw from the Chamber.

And that, to me, was the import of last night. One side was engaged in a civil conversation; the other was engaged in an uncivil protest. The Congress became an unruly town hall meeting - because conservatives made it one.

Yglesias: Revisiting The “You Lie” Lie

To revisit last night’s action, the President said this:

THE PRESIDENT: There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP JOE WILSON: You lie! (Boos.)

THE PRESIDENT: It’s not true. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place. (Applause.)

Brendan Nyhan bends over backwards to construct an interpretation of the situation such that Rep Wilson is merely being highly misleading rather than telling an outright falsehood:

Obama is clearly referring to the false claim that health care reform would provide free health insurance to illegal immigrants. Many people may interpret Wilson’s outburst as a defense of this claim (it’s impossible to know what he was thinking). However, as Rob correctly points out, Obama’s reforms would apply to everyone — including illegal immigrants — who purchases coverage through health insurance exchanges, including from a proposed government insurance program known as the public option. If you define the public option as insuring someone and describe it as a reform, then Obama’s statement could be seen as misleading and Wilson’s point could be seen as more supportable.



In other words, though the bills would prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving any taxpayer assistance in purchasing health insurance, the proposals on the table don’t do anything special to prevent an undocumented immigrant from buying health insurance with his own money. To characterize this as “insur[ing] illegal immigrants” strikes me as about on a par with claiming that Obama’s health care plans give ibuprofen to illegal immigrants. After all, nothing in the bill stops illegal immigrants from buying ibuprofen in a store! And the very same FDA regulations that assure citizens and legal residents and tourists of the safety of ibuprofen will also benefit illegal immigrants.

Blue Texan (FDL): South Carolina Congressman Who Screamed at President Obama Fought to Keep Confederate Flag

Long before Joe Wilson (R-SC) made a complete ass out of himself and his party on national television, he fought to keep the Confederate battle flag flying over South Carolina.

The flag came down that year [2000] after Republicans in both houses went for a compromise that would put it on Statehouse grounds at the Confederate Soldier’s monument. The “Magnificent Seven” of Senators who voted to keep the flag up included current Congressman Joe Wilson...

That's right -- Wilson was one of only seven members of the South Carolina Senate to vote to stick it to the blacks keep the battle flag. It was finally brought down under intense national pressure and from an NAACP boycott, which cost the state millions in tourism revenue.

Wilson was just being a good foot soldier for the Neo-Confederate cause, as he's a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization teeming with white supremecists and racists.

Notes the Southern Poverty Law Center,

Early editions of the SCV's Confederate Veteran newsletter defended the Ku Klux Klan, argued that the United States was created "for white people," and complained that "when a Negro has learned to read he ceases to work."

As DougJ wrote,

No one could have predicted that a white southern Congressman would heckle a black president.

Sully: The GOP's New Slogan

They're making tee-shirts and everything:


wilbur (Daily Kos): Probable beltway evolution of Wilson's "You Lie"

From the diaries. Brilliant! -- kos)

Ezra Klein

Joe Wilson’s “you lie” comment might be a great boon to the Democrats in their bid to pass health care.


Michael Scherer (

Joes Wilson broke decorum when he screamed “you lie” which may come back to hurt Republicans. Obama stared back at him and you could seem him twitch.


Rush Limbaugh

And ladies and gentlemen Mr. Obama was calling Mr. Wilson a liar so he had to respond. Did you see the way that Obama twitched? Ladies and gentlemen that’s the type of twitch you see from the type of man Obama is (unsaid: Black) when he’s ready for a barroom fight or to push you aside and ravage your sister. We’ve all seen that twitch before and we’ve all known what it means.



Breaking Headline: Obama twitch is seen as a challenge not only to Wilson but anybody who disagrees with him. Obama wants a barroom fight – and watch your sister.



“The Twitch” – major backlash on Obama’s response to Joe Wilson’s comment – while Wilson is nothing more than a back bencher, Obama raised his stature by using body language to make what feels like to a lot of people a direct threat, to Wilson, the Republicans and their sisters.


Fox News

We are spending all day discussing “The Twitch,” which is getting people really riled up in the real America (show signs of teabaggers carrying signs saying “Don’t Twitch on Me!”) We have noted body language psychologist Dr. Kraz Y. Town to talk about it.

Town: Yes, I want to show you these pictures of Hitler speaking at Nuremberg. You see the same type of twitch.


Sarah Palin (Twitter)

Don’t “Twitch on Me” buddy. I’ve seen that Twitch before and I know to get out of the room fast or I’m going to wind up with a black eye or pregnant


George Will

The first thing a president must have is decorum. You would never see Ronald Reagan twitch like that, make that type of unabashed challenge to a lowly backbencher. Mr. Obama has done himself and his country a disservice.


David Broder

While I understand that the comment was inappropriate all eyes were on Obama and not Joe Wilson. Obama broke comity and destroyed bipartisanship with that twitch. This is our town Mr. Obama and we don’t appreciate you twitching in it.


Chris Mathews

Mathews: Hi, this is Chris Mathews on Hardball. We’re going to be talking about “The Twitch” with a Democratic consultant. Didn’t Obama make a real mistake with that Twitch?

Democratic Consultant: Well, I’ll admit it wasn’t Obama’s best moment, but he was doing it in response to a comment.

Mathews: Come on Joe Wilson is a nothing, a nobody, and hey, we all know what that twitch means. I’m a lunch bucket kind of guy, I’ve been in bars, I have a sister.

Democratic Consultant: Well we need to admit Obama made a mistake with the Twitch and try and move on and pass health care.


Michael Scherer

Obama’s Twitch is causing him enormous trouble. It’s hard to believe this type of blowback. How did the White House lose control of an issue that should have played in their favor?


Ezra Klein

As idiotic as the twitch is, it looks like it is going to doom the public option

Sargent: VIDEO: Watch Joe “You Lie” Wilson Yell At Dem, Rant About His “Hatred Of America”

Joe “you lie” Wilson really does have some long-standing anger management issues.

I’ve just obtained some video from C-SPAN of the 2002 episode I wrote about below, in which the now-infamous Wilson yells at Dem Rep. Bob Filner and accuses him on the air of hating America. It’s a bit long, but the payoff is worth it:

The content of the argument aside, what’s interesting is the long, slow burn of Wilson’s anger. It takes awhile, but once he gets going there’s no turning back. By the end Wilson is smoldering away, looking red-faced and seriously pissed. And there’s no doubt Wilson believes every word he’s saying about his America-hating enemy. What an odd dude.

Sully: Wilson's Crumbling Base

That outburst by Wilson brought in $100K overnight for his opponent. TPM runs the numbers:

In the 2008 election, John McCain carried the district 54%-45%, and Wilson himself was re-elected 53.7%-46.2% over Miller. This was a significant swing from previous elections -- when Wilson would win with over 60% or even over 80% of the vote, and George W. Bush carried it 60%-40% in 2004.

DougJ: Joe Wilson’s war

The battle is joined by Erick Erickson:



The Democrat opponent to Congressman Joe Wilson has raised over $100,000.00 since last night.

What have you given to Joe Wilson. The man spoke for America. And now we need to open our wallets for Joe.

It does no good to pat Joe on the back or give him an “atta boy.” Joe Wilson needs us to open our wallets and checkbooks. Joe Wilson is now a serious threat to Barack Obama because he dared point out that the Emperor has no clothes. The left will target him. The left will target his family. The left will try to destroy Joe Wilson.

We can stop the left. But we must give generously to Joe.

Prove that conservatives are not pathetic activists. Put your money where your mouth is.

Give to Joe.

Sincerely yours,

Erick Erickson

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Think Progress: Despite Calling ‘Death Panels’ Illogical ‘Hysteria’ Last Month, National Review Promotes Them On New Cover

nr-coverLast month, the National Review editors wrote, “We should be against hysteria.” To conclude that President Obama’s health reforms “will lead to ‘death panels’…is to leap across a logical canyon,” they wrote.

At the time, National Review’s Andrew McCarthy criticized the editors of his own magazine for their admission that the “death panels” controversy was hysteria based on a lie:

The editorial’s contention was that there wouldn’t “literally” be death panels. To me, that’s not much different from quibbling over “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The stakes here couldn’t be higher, time is short, and “death panel” cuts to the chase.

But the cover of the current issue of National Review promotes the “death panel” hysteria. And, McCarthy now believes that his defense of “death panels” hysteria has been vindicated by National Review’s choice of cover art. McCarthy writes that the cover “made me wonder why we were arguing so much a couple of weeks ago.”

McCarthy actually has a point. It’s disingenuous, to say the least, for National Review to admit in print that “death panels” are a lie, while at the same time trying to sell magazines with art that promotes the same lie.

RW Mascots: News from the Big Sleazy

Sargent: Palin Invokes 9/11 To Attack Obama

Sarah Palin, private citizen, responded to Obama’s speech on her Facebook page late last night with the usual mix of bluster and aggrievement, claiming Obama’s rebuttal of her “death panel” falsehood demonstrated a lack of “civility.”

But here’s the nugget from her response that jumped out at me. She suggested Obama “demonized” victims of the “war on terror” and specifically invoked 9/11 to do so:

Finally, President Obama delivered an offhand applause line tonight about the cost of the War on Terror. As we approach the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and honor those who died that day and those who have died since in the War on Terror, in order to secure our freedoms, we need to remember their sacrifices and not demonize them as having had too high a price tag.

The implication is that Obama is “demonizing” victims of the war on terror — 9/11 victims included — by saying war has financial costs. Palin interprets this to mean that Obama is saying that terror victims have “had too high a price tag.”

For sheer creativity, that one easily rivals the death panels. But that aside, didn’t anyone tell Palin that you’re not supposed to invoke 9/11 to launch political attacks? Isn’t that the sort of thing that would typically gin up lots of media outrage? Maybe now that she’s a private citizen she thinks the rules are different for her, or something.

  • Aravosis adds:
    Perhaps it's time for someone at the White House to impale this woman. Or would they like to spend the next month debating whether Obama dissed 9/11 victims last night? Yes, Palin is a nut. And she's also the nut who started the "death panels" lie that dogged Obama for a good month because he refused to go nuclear on her and those promoting her bs views.
Friend Bob says: Joe Wilson's opponent in SC is ROB MILLER. Send him money! His website is backed up, but you can contribute at actblue. You won't be the first, and don't be the last! Get Joe Wilson back to South Carolina to stay, and for good! You can't call MY President a liar during a joint session of congress!
  • Defeating the man who yelled "liar" at Obama: Goodbye Rep Joe Wilson
  • McIntyre (Daily Kos): Fight Joe Wilson's "Lies" - Help out Rob Miller

    Up until today, Joe Wilson was just another anonymous Southern Republican troglodyte Congressman, unknown to all but the poor people of South Carolina and the most serious horse race junkies.

    Today, he's the hyena who disgraced himself, his party, and the House chamber by screaming "you lie!" like an 8 year-old during the President's eloquent speech on the most critical challenge facing our nation.

    There's something we can do to let Joe Wilson know what we think of his childish approach to a serious problem -- we can help out Rob Miller. Rob is an Iraq War vet -- a Marine who came back to South Carolina to try and restore dignity to South Carolina's Second CD, where Joe Wilson was selling out the district by voting for unfair trade deals and corporate giveaways. Despite being a relative unknown, being outspent by a substantial margin, and a general Republican lean to the district, Rob came within just 8 points of knocking Wilson off in 2008. And we're lucky to have him running again.

    Rob's a fair trade Democrat who supports the Employee Free Choice Act. He's a breath of fresh air for a state that desperately needs new leadership. And we can help him tonight, as the nation sees what an immature loser his opponent is. Let's chip in to help Rob -- with early financial support, and with the notoriety Wilson has brought on himself, we've got a chance to help send Joe Wilson packing -- and to bring maturity and decency to South Carolina politics.

  • WSJ: Joe Wilson’s ‘You Lie!’ Provides Fund-Raising Boon for Opponent

    “Despite being a relative unknown, being outspent by a substantial margin, and a general Republican lean to the district, Rob came within just 8 points of knocking Wilson off in 2008. And we’re lucky to have him running again,” DailyKos wrote.

    While Wilson’s outburst has provided a wave of unwelcome attention—his official congressional Web site remained crashed this morning—his South Carolina district has been reliably Republican. George W. Bush won 60% of the vote there in 2004, and John McCain won over Barack Obama by nearly ten points, 54%-45% in 2008.

Aravosis: Joe "That's a lie!" Wilson's allies claiming PTSD
Or something akin. Oh puh-lease.
John Cole: Obama’s Fault

James Joyner explains how it is Obama’s fault Joe Wilson yelled out during the address:

While Wilson’s frustrated cry was inexcusable, however, it’s at least understandable. After all, Obama was indirectly calling him a liar. And being untruthful. From the speech:
    Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

    There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

This, incidentally, was the from the prepared remarks, not off-the-cuff flourish. The president was deliberately poisoning the well, claiming that his opponents are dishonorable and ill-intentioned.

Kind of an awesome set of rules the President gets to work with. If you point out that people have been lying about death panels for the last few months, you are “poisoning the well.” If you don’t point it out, people believe it and the rumors and lies keep spreading.

Here on planet earth, the people who actually poisoned the well would be the ones who have spread all these BS rumors and lies. Not the guy standing over the well saying- “Hey. There is poison in there. Don’t drink it.”

Ostensibly, the Republican response to President Obama's health care speech was delivered after the address to a joint session by Rep. Charles Boustany (R) of Louisiana.

But as a practical matter, the de facto GOP response came about 40 minutes into the president's remarks. He explained, "There are ... those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

It prompted Rep. Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina to interrupt the speech, heckle the president, and shout, "You lie!"

There are a few important angles to this. The first is substantive. When Wilson accused the president of lying, Wilson was, in fact, lying. Even in Congress, facts should matter, and the right-wing Republican wasn't just obnoxious with his idiotic interruption, he was also wrong.

The second is personal. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress, said, "Whoever shouted out that the president was lying is a dumbass." John McCain denounced Wilson's outburst as "totally disrespectful." While right-wing blogs were thrilled, Republican lawmakers have been entirely unwilling to defend Wilson's behavior.

The third is contextual. President Obama couldn't have been more magnanimous last night, highlighting a plan that "incorporates ideas from many people in this room tonight, Democrats and Republicans." He made frequent references to Republican lawmakers and even George W. Bush. Obama even talked up medical malpractice reform. It was in this context that Wilson decided to lash out? As Gail Collins noted this morning, "Let me go out on a limb and say that it is not a good plan to heckle the president of the United States when he's making a speech about replacing acrimony with civility."

The fourth is practical. While Dems have been divided of late on policy specifics, they were unified last night -- they loved Obama and they hated Joe Wilson. Indeed, I've seen reports that Wilson's Democratic opponent next year, Rob Miller, suddenly saw a wave of new campaign contributions in the wake of Wilson's conduct.

It's striking that Wilson, unable to find any support from his allies, quickly apologized. He said his emotions got the best of him, and issued a statement that said, "While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility." He spoke directly to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel last night to express his regret.

But the damage has been done. Indeed, Wilson's outburst is an almost perfect summation of 2009 -- President Obama appears big, Republicans appear small. Democrat show class, Republicans act like children. One side is serious, one side is shrill. The White House says something true, Republicans lash out with falsehoods.

To be sure, Wilson is a buffoon, from whom very little is expected. He's hosting Glenn Beck minions at his office this weekend, and is a reflexive, right-wing clown masquerading as a congressman. He embarrassed himself, his party, and his institution last night, but it's unlikely Wilson actually cares whether he's a disgrace or not. Bruce Bartlett noted this morning, "He's become the new Sarah Palin of the Republican Party, where one's popularity is in inverse proportion to one's stupidity -- the stupider a Republican is these days the more popular he or she becomes."

What will be interesting to see if there are any real consequences. There's been some talk of censure, or demanding that Wilson deliver a formal apology to the House itself.

  • from the comments:

    Wilson tweeted that he was going to do this on Tuesday. This was planned. His apology is as false as his outburst was last night. Denouncement is not good enough, he should be removed from office.

    Posted by: SGeorge on September 10, 2009 at 9:17 AM
The big sleazy Sept. 9: The Nation's Washington Editor Chris Hayes joins Rachel Maddow to look at sleazy tactics employed by health care reform opponents as exemplified by Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, and contrasts the conservative hype with actual American opinions on health care reform.
Towards the end of his speech last night, President Obama reminded lawmakers that when we reach the point at which "we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter," we lose more than just "our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves."

Congressional Republicans would have benefited from hearing the remarks, but they chose not to listen. Instead, they brought some of the Tea Baggers' town-hall tactics to the House. Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) outburst was the most notable, but it was part of a larger GOP trend.

The national debate, already raw for years, had coarsened over the summer as town hall meetings across the country dissolved into protests about "death panels" and granny-killing. Guns were brought to Obama appearances. A pastor in Arizona said he was praying for Obama to die.

But even by that standard, there was something appalling about the display on the House floor for what was supposed to be a sacred ritual of American democracy: the nation watching while Cabinet members, lawmakers from both chambers and the diplomatic corps assembled.

Wilson was only the most flagrant. There was booing from House Republicans when the president caricatured a conservative argument by saying they would "leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own." They hissed when he protested their "scare tactics." They grumbled as they do in Britain's House of Commons when Obama spoke of the "blizzard of charges and countercharges."

In truth, right-wing politicians behaving like children isn't nearly as important as the substantive debate. But therein lies the point: if House Republicans aren't prepared to bring credible ideas to the table, the least they could do is show some decency and pretend to be adults.

I don't want to exaggerate the significance of this. I care far less about GOP lawmakers acting like ignorant buffoons and far more about GOP lawmakers thinking that Americans have too much insurance and Medicare should be privatized. Their conduct, however, does say something interesting about their maturity, their character, and how they're approaching this debate.

What's more, as Alex Koppelman noted, there are the political implications to consider: "All of it will serve to reinforce the impression, which reform supporters have been working hard to create and spread, that Republicans have gone around the bend, that they're more interested in attacking Obama than in reaching across the aisle to work on reform. And it makes Obama look calm, bipartisan and presidential."

DemfromCT (DK): The Speech: Insta-polls

Mark Blumenthal (excerpt of more point) noted how little we learn from an insta-poll of a Presidential speech:

  1. Instant response polls measure only speech-watchers. While the methodologies vary, the most important thing to remember that these surveys aim to sample only those who watch the speech and, as such, are are not intended to represent the views of all Americans. The pollsters will hopefully provide some before-and-after comparisons of the speech audience -- showing how viewers felt about health care reform before and after the speech -- but those comparisons will involve only the sample of speech viewers. Thus, no one should take any of the numbers they see tonight and make comparisons to full-sample results from previously surveys of all adults or all "likely voters."
  1. The audience is usually skewed toward the President's fans. Remember, not all Americans watch presidential addresses. Out of roughly 113 million television households in the U.S., between 52 and 63 million watched the debates last fall and roughly 53 million watched President Bush's address on the economic crisis last September. Those are huge audiences, but plenty of Americans still tune out.

In this case, CNN (full .pdf) notes:

18% of the respondents who participated in tonight's survey identified themselves as Republicans, 45% identified themselves as Democrats, and 37% identified themselves as Independents.

So, what he had was a real chance to address indies. And here's what was posted at

The first on my radar screen comes from CNN of a survey of people who watched the speech (update: full results now posted). Candy Crowley says, not surprisingly, that the sample "skews heavily Democratic, we think that the Democratic sample in this flash poll is 8 to 10 points higher than in the general population."

  • 72% say yes, Obama clearly stated his health care goals, 26% say no.
  • 56% had a very positive reaction, 21% somewhat positive, 21% negative
  • Support for Obama's health care plans jumped 14 points among speech viewers: from 53% in favor to 67%

Democracy Corps has an overnight poll lays it out (click for larger pic):

Obama’s Speech Moves Swing Voters to Support Reform

Significantly, Obama’s speech played well across the political spectrum. Traditionally, voters from the opposite party of the president tend to score consistently low and to create huge partisan divides in these dial tests. That was not the case with Obama’s speech. With just a few exceptions, Republicans held solidly around 50 and even exceeded 70 percent favorability during parts of the president’s speech, giving particularly high scores to Obama’s remarks on not adding a penny to the deficit, creating a health care exchange, protecting Medicare, and reforming medical malpractice. While Republicans in the audience may have viewed this as a partisan speech, those outside of the room clearly did not.

Obama helped himself last night by going over the heads of the media and his brain-dead opposition (the visuals of Joe Wilson's Billy Crystal/Carol Kane's Princess Bride imitation - Liar!! - went over very badly, as did Eric Cantor's texting) directly to the Amercian people.

Good start. It'll take three days of traditional polling to put this in context, so check back on Sunday and beyond.

Health Care Thursday: Anything Happen Yesterday? Edition

Another day. Anything happen yesterday to change the game? Just wondering.

Greg Sargent:

9:33 PM: Very weird moment: On CNN, McCain denounced Obama for disputing Palin’s death panel falsehood, claiming it was “partisan in nature” and “did nothing to contribute to bipartisan dialog.” But when asked whether he believes the death panel claim, McCain said: “No.”

10:25 PM: Striking numbers from the CNN snap poll, just released: Seventy seven percent reacted positively to the speech; the number who think Obama’s policies will move us in the right direction jumped 10 points, to 70%; the number who back Obama’s health care plan has jumped 14 points, to 67%; and 72% say he clearly stated his goals.

Think Progress:
[Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted out, “LIE!”]: The rudeness shocked even veteran political observers such as NBC’s Chuck Todd, who wrote on Twitter, “Wow. What’s next a duel?” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough also wrote, “Whoever shouted out that the president was lying is a dumbass who should show the President respect.” On MSNBC after the speech, Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman said, “The Republicans were mostly stage props in this speech tonight and they behaved like it.” ... On Fox Business News, Karl Rove and host Neil Cavuto thought Wilson shouting at the President was hilarious. "Joe Wilson, good guy," said Rove. "Lovely," agreed Cavuto.
From the comments at Krugman's blog:
As soon as I saw the article about Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” during Obama’s speech, I remembered how during Bush’s term you were considered “shrill” for refusing to euphemize Bush’s frequent lies. I wouldn’t have been in favor of a Democratic congressman heckling Bush during a speech, but I believe in a journalist in a newspaper identifying an indisputable lie as such.

Daily Kos: Ted Kennedy's Letter to the President

Below is the text of the letter from Senator Edward M. Kennedy referenced by the President in tonight’s address to a Joint Session of Congress.

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat - that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

Rachel asks the right questions in this piece . . .
Axelrod on Obama's speech Sept. 9: Rachel Maddow is joined by Obama senior advisor David Axelrod following President Obama's health care speech to the joint session of Congress to address the president's willingness to do the hard work required to get the health care reform bill passed.

Steve Benen: OBAMA DELIVERS...
It's impossible to say with certainty whether President Obama's speech on health care reform last night will have the intended impact. Will intra-party differences between Democrats be resolved? Will public attitudes shift back in the White House's direction? Did the speech help reframe the debate? We don't yet know.

We do know, however, that the president did exactly what he needed to do, and delivered what was probably the best speech of his presidency.

Under the circumstances, it's safe to assume Obama didn't want to have to deliver this speech at all. Remember, the White House wanted the House and Senate to pass their respective bills in June. The president would have been just as happy if a national address before a joint session of Congress was entirely unnecessary.

But the summer was unkind to reform. As Obama explained last night, "Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics.... Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned."

So, the president set the record straight, and delivered on some specific benchmarks.

* Centrist: In reality, Democratic reform proposals are poised to be the biggest progressive victory on domestic policy in four decades, but last night, Obama deftly positioned his vision of reform as a centrist, pragmatic, middle-of-the-road approach. The president specifically rejected a "radical shift" that would "disrupt the health care most people currently have... I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch."

* Defining reform: What's this initiative all about? Obama spelled it out in 39 words: "It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

* Defending government: The right has spent most of the year convincing the nation that anything related to government is, by definition, evil. I was delighted to see the president make the opposite case: "Our ability to stand in other people's shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand. A belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgement that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise."

* Explainer in Chief: I was glad to see Obama talk about mandates and the public option, but more important, I was thrilled to hear him explain them. These can be complicated concepts, and the president made the case clearly.

* Moral case: One area of criticism of late is that the White House hasn't made the moral case for reform. Last night, Obama did just that, quoting Ted Kennedy: "What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country." It was the start of a stirring last act.

* Historical context: The president was very effective in explaining that right-wing hysterics were wrong on Social Security, and wrong again on Medicare. But in the process, he wasn't just dismissing the Tea Baggers, he was connecting his presidency to the progressive legacy.

Towards the very end of the speech, Obama struck a note of American optimism: "I still believe we can act even when it's hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history's test."

The phrase wasn't just about reform; it was about encouraging Americans to have faith in what's possible, even in the face of trying circumstances. It was, in a way, a subtle request -- we elected him to lead, he sees a path ahead, and with patience, he'll try to take us where we need to go.

Americans, in other words, need to "still believe" in his presidency, too. After hearing his vision last night, I think he's earned it.

DemfromCT (Daily Kos): Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Here we go:

Adam Nagourney:

For nearly an hour, Mr. Obama spoke strongly and passionately, pausing only to acknowledge the repeated cheers from his audience as he made what appeared to be his clearest and most concise case yet on a complicated issue that had repeatedly defied his communications skills.

He managed to invest his case with both economic and emotional urgency — particularly when he invoked the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose widow, Victoria, was in the audience — without getting bogged down in too many details.

Kaiser health news:

Obama To Congress And The Nation: 'I Will Not Accept The Status Quo'

News round-up by AP and others.

The day after The Speech:

Obama's offer to back an effort to limit malpractice verdicts against physicians may have been devised as a carrot to attract Republicans to his side, and it could also attract support from another key constituency, says William O'Neill, dean of clinical affairs at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "It could make doctors stand up and take notice," he said. "If the administration could get physicians enthused, then they would enthuse their patients."

And a round-up by The Health Care Reform Debate Blog shows that the docs are there.

Today, the American Medical Association sent a letter to House leaders supporting H.R. 3200, "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009." "This legislation includes a broad range of provisions that are key to effective, comprehensive health system reform," said J. James Rohack, MD, AMA president. "We urge the House committees of jurisdiction to pass the bill for consideration by the full House."

Chris Cillizza:

• Republicans' Audio-Visual Problem: It's always a mistake to assume that the only thing viewers take from a nationally televised speech is the words the president is using. If so, the White House could simply release the remarks and be done with it. Visuals (and audio) matter. And, the two most compelling pieces of audio-visual that came out of tonight's speech -- House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) checking his blackberry and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouting "you lie" at Obama -- don't work in Republicans' favor.

In fact, it makes them look like petulant adolescents compared to the grown-up in the room.


In this speech, in fact, Obama needed to do the precise opposite of what he's best at. He needed to bring health-care reform down to earth rather than launch it into orbit. He needed to make it seem less dramatic and unknown. He needed to cast it not as change, but as improvement.

All of which he did.

Nate Silver:

I called the speech a triple, because I think it was about 10 minutes too long. Andrew Sullivan's readers call it a home run. FOX News, I'm sure, will call it a long fly-out to the warning track. The bottom line: it was a well-delivered speech, and a very, very smart speech. It will remind people of what they liked about Obama. It won't do miracles. But it will increase, perhaps substantially, the odds of meaningful health care reform passing.

Tom Schaller:

That said, Obama is trying to win an argument on its merits, on logic, and statistics and projections. In an ideal world, that sort of pragmatic rationality would be enough. But we don’t live in such a world.

Errington Thompson, MD:

As I see it, Republicans are playing some type of child’s game where they claim to support healthcare reform. I don’t see any real effort to support healthcare reform. Senator Mike Enzi is probably the best example of this. He is supposedly negotiating for a bipartisan reform bill. Just last week he told a group of supporters at a rally that he was sure that healthcare reform was going to fail. Unfortunately, Mike Enzi is a very important senator, on the Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Some Republican senators have said they won’t even read the final bill. Democrats, liberals and progressives need to read the writing on the wall. If we truly want change, we’re going to have to push for it. We are going have to march for it. We are going to have to pull the rest of the country kicking and screaming to get it. This is the only way that we are going to prevent the USS Healthcare from sinking.

Dealing with the opposition on health care Sept. 9: Congressman Barney Frank, D-MA, joins Rachel Maddow to share his (low) expectations of being able to work with Republicans on health care reform.

Tim F. (Balloon Juice): Thursday Morning Graph Wonkery

Normally I don’t bother checking Kevin Drum’s graph work because he has done it professionally for longer than I have, and he seems quite good at it. The rare exception is a post last night that I think gets a pretty important point wrong.

Recently a British firm tracked the most influential voices in the health care debate. Here is the graph, with influence on the vertical axis (higher is better) and positive/negative opinion of the British NHS on the horizontal. Kevin added the ‘liberal blogosphere’ venn circle in post.


Kevin makes two conclusions concerning netizens like us. He finds the influence of Twitter depressingly high, and and he finds the liberal blogosphere’s influence depressingly low. Here is why I think that neither conclusion holds water.

About Twitter, it is slightly unfair to compare an individual news outlet such as the Guardian to Twitter, which is basically a communication medium. Since the British firm almost certainly used online linkage and quoting to estimate influence* and Twitter is used by practically everyone who has both a pulse and an internet connection, graphing the influence of Twitter strikes me as about as valid as graphing the influence of email.

About the liberal blogosphere, that dot cluster leads me to the exact opposite conclusion from what Kevin reached. The higher dots, presumably Kos, TPM and HuffPo, sit uncomfortably close to the nearest major news outlet. If I were a WaPo writer trying to pretend (like they always do) that online liberals don’t matter I would not like that graph at all. More fundamentally, Kevin commits the multiplication fallacy by comparing the average influence score of a liberal blog (the center of Kevin’s oval) with the influence of any individual news outlet. Kos may not have the influence of the Washington Post (yet), but established liberal blogs outnumber commercial news outlets by more than one factor of ten. If you want to treat the liberal blogosphere as an aggregate entity, then on aggregate the liberal blogs have a hell of a lot of influeence. If you multiply the number of dots down there by their average influence (assuming the Y axis values are scalar, which is probably wrong), the ‘liberal blogosphere’ data point looks like it could give Twitter a run for its money. Given how those dots can coordinate on an important issue, this graph tells me that liberal blogs have come awfully close to being a new wing of the fourth estate.

BTW, where is the conservative blogosphere? Maybe the analysts did not feel like using a log scale.

(*) Full disclosure – I did not dive into the internals because, unfortunately, I am not paid to blog and what I am paid to do is kicking my ass right now.


Also, did you notice Stephen Hawking made it halfway up the Y axis? He is one guy who made something like two public comments on the matter. That suggests that there is a ton of untapped potential for celebrities (other than Jon Voigt) who want to spread the word.

***Update 2***

Another thing. Is it true that the New York Times presents a dramatically more positive picture of the NHS than the liberal blogosphere does? Paging Brent Bozell…