In today's mail, I received a negative direct mail piece from Hillary Clinton. The piece says that Barack O'Bama's health care plan leaves 15 million Americans without coverage. "WILL IT BE YOU?" While who gets health care coverage, how, and with what costs and systemic changes are all fair game, it's still fear stoking.
The piece makes two central claims: (1) 15 million would be left uncovered under an Obama plan; (2) the cost for taxpayers would be $1700 MORE per newly covered person.
The footnoted source for claim one is "CBS News.com, 6/3/07," but when you look it up, you see it's actually a critique video by Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic. I guess that doesn't sound as impressive as saying "CBS News," does it?
The critique points out that Obama is not requiring a mandate for everyone to buy health insurance until his other efficiency proposals make such coverage actually affordable. Does everybody without health coverage right now understand "the mandate?" I seriously doubt it. You can't afford health insurance now, but they're going to REQUIRE you to buy it while tweaking how you actually pay for it on the back end. How will they enforce this mandate? By a payroll deduction like other government withdraws? What about those who are self-employed or living on fixed incomes from investments? We don't know! Hoo boy! I'm excited now. Good luck getting that little plan through Congress.
But, again, I digress. The critique by Cohn itself notes that Obama's plan has "follow up" steps that will address these 15 million. Mr. Cohn may not believe that Obama's approach is best, but for Clinton to give the impression Obama has nothing for these folks is completely wrong. In other words... suprise surprise...a political ad distorts the kernel of truth.
The second claim about the cost is much more credible. It's a colum by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman citing an "expert" in healthcare who is not affiliated with either campaign. Curiously, the column argues that any plan without a mandate would only cover an additional 23 million. In other words, Clinton might have felt justified in accusing Obama of failing to cover 22 million, not just 15 million. So maybe I should applaud her reserve.
But what troubles me about the mailer is the photograph on the front. From left to right, you see: an old white woman, a young white dude with stylishly spiked hair, an old white man with no hair, a middle-aged woman (short spiked hair, "suggestibly" lesbian), a young Asian man, a young African-American woman, and a young blonde with very granola-looking jewelry (the environmentalist).
Hillary, Hillary, Hillary! Haven't you read my blog?
Am I the only one who notices that AGAIN another direct mail piece omits the black man? Is this because Obama is a black man, or is it because Hillary thinks Hoosiers are afraid of them?
But more importantly, this is Indiana. Senator Clinton, where are the Latinos? Doesn't Hillary Clinton care if Latinos get health insurance, OR is she trying to say they're all here illegally and they don't deserve any!?! OR is she trying to say that they're all so wealthy that they already have it!?! Or has she just hired an idiot firm to do her direct mail?
You see how easily anything can get churned into something that it probably isn't for political gain? A pastor, a lapel pin, "elitism," and "is he giving her 'the finger'?" THESE are the topics that are determining the leader of the free world.
So maybe I SHOULD give kudos to Senator Clinton. Yeah, she's distorting a bit, and sure she's engaging in cut-throat attack politics, but at least this time it's about an issue that actually matters.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008