Spokesmen for the Democrats’ “health care reform” proposals say that all those ordinary-appearing Americans waving hand-made signs are either operatives of powerful vested interests, especially insurance companies, or “political enemies” bent on destroying the Obama presidency.
Even people in conservative Montana are strongly supportive, and continue to adulate the President, according to mainstream media coverage of a forum he held in Belgrade, MT.
But poll numbers suggest otherwise. The percentage of people with “very negative” feelings about Obama has tripled since the beginning of the year, hitting 20% nationally, 23% in those older than 65 (Jonathan Weisman, Wall St J 8/20/09). Congressional approval ratings sit at 30% (Daniel Henninger, Wall St J, 8/20/09). A poll conducted Aug 4-9 found that 49% disapproved of Obama’s handling of health care, and 43% approved (Washington Examiner 8/14/09).
Although the Obama campaign made extensive, skillful use of the internet and social networking, David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President, sent an email on White House letterhead complaining of “viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.”
The White House launched its own “chain email” and a new website, http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck. AAPS has been hearing complaints from people who received “spam” from the White House, wondering how the White House got their email address. After a “riotous” response to the snitch mailbox for “fishy” misinformation, [email protected], the government disabled it. “Reality check” might serve the same purpose.
Who is pushing the Democrats’ proposals? The people with the bullhorns and professionally made signs appear to be bussed-in, paid agitators from unions or left-wing advocacy groups. The town-hall meetings held by the Administration look “utterly stacked,” writes Peggy Noonan (Wall St J 8/15-16/09).
A number of the few people selected to ask questioners were shown to be campaign donors, Organizing for America volunteers, lobbyists for single payer, or union plants (WorldNet Daily 8/13/09).
Will Americans need to resort to samizdat to disseminate news ignored by the media? “Bill” and “Kathy” of Bozeman, MT, who don’t want their email address disseminated, write that the Montana event was held in a secluded, remote, difficult-to-reach hangar at the airport. The Administration shipped in tons of cargo, including chairs and thousands of dollars worth of lobster. Montana folks who wanted to protest—nurses, doctors, cowboys from around the state—were given a permit to assemble far away from the event, invisible to the media. A busload of SEIU members (Service Employees International Union) came in to disrupt their gathering and tried to start fights.
“Everything was orchestrated down to the last detail to make it appear that Montana is just crazy for Obama and government healthcare,” Kathy writes. “I felt I was not living in the United States of America, more like the USSR! … Bill and I have been around when Presidents or Heads of State visit. It has never been like this. I am truly very frightened for our country.”
So who is lined up behind the Administration? In addition to political advocacy groups, there’s the AMA, with $70 million in annual revenue from CPT-code–related materials. And the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is spending $150 million on advertising to support Obama’s plan—compared to McCain’s $84 million for his presidential campaign (AOL News). Certain health insurers, such as UnitedHealth, that stand to benefit from forcing people to buy their product, gave some $19 million in political contributions, 56% to Democrats (Business Week 8/6/09). Against insurers who oppose government-run health care, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) have launched “Soprano-style tactics,” writes Newt Gingrich. On short notice they have demanded detailed information on executive compensation packages and business practices from 52 large insurance companies.
“In the spirit of Joe McCarthy,” Gingrich says, “Waxman and Stupak are attempting to use raw political power to silence their opponents” (Washington Examiner 8/21/09).
Attempts by the White House to set Americans against each other—“good Americans protecting the president’s health-care program” versus “bad Americans fighting it and undermining truth and goodness”—has not played well. “Americans don’t take well…to bullying, especially of the moralizing kind,” writes Dorothy Rabinowitz (Wall St J 8/15-16-09).
The response at town halls gives reason for hope, writes market strategist John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital. “It may be that the deep resentment expressed in town halls will embolden ordinary people to pressure Congress to stop the train. If that happens, America will begin the long and painful road towards economic restructuring, individual freedom and enterprise. Under those conditions, America would represent a great investment opportunity” (Asia Times).
Despite the fact that support for the Plan is down 21% in 3 weeks, Obama may still be right when he proclaims, “We’re going to get this done one way or the other” (Wall St J 8/21/09). Constituents’ outrage may not matter. To win the ultimate prize of a government takeover of medicine—thus setting what Lenin called the keystone in the arch of the socialist state—Democrats might risk it all, even their congressional majority (Jim Geraghty, National Review Online 8/13/09).