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He's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone it, people like him.
September 4, 2009 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Al Franken shows a revolutionary way to deal with an upset crowd - talk to them like adults.
posted by jbickers (111 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Comedians know how to handle hecklers!
posted by vibrotronica at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2009 [23 favorites]


Minnesota nice.
posted by billysumday at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


The headshaking that the woman in the teabagger t-shirt is doing is tantamount to throwing flaming torches in Minnesota.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:18 PM on September 4, 2009 [25 favorites]


Yeah, that's damn impressive. There's apparently more video coming where Franken was dealing with a real ugly crowd at the beginning, but the blogger posted this excerpt first so that people could see how well things turned out.
posted by maudlin at 2:19 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just finished watching this on Talking Points Memo. The man's got skills. I wouldn't call that 'talking like adults', though... maybe 'talking like diplomats'.

He never became mired in fact-checking the crowd's opinions or anecdotes, he never contradicted anyone's opinions, he stuck to very specific data, and he tied as much as possible into Minnesota patriotism. A good way to evade the crapflood of misinformation.
posted by anthill at 2:21 PM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Long, nuanced, well-informed.

He'll never get re-elected.
posted by GuyZero at 2:21 PM on September 4, 2009 [55 favorites]


I just love the way she put the question to him 'are you going to vote the way the people who voted you into office want you to vote or Obama?' Ummm...

Its almost like some of these wingnuts believe that they have some sort of super majority. Those people wearing tea party shirts no more voted for Obama than people wearing 'No Blood for Oil' shirts voted for Bush.
posted by UseyurBrain at 2:22 PM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Comedians know how to handle hecklers!

Senator Bill Hicks would not have handled it as well.
posted by empath at 2:24 PM on September 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I just finished watching this as well. I love that she included herself in the people who elected Al Franken.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:27 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to seeing how Senator Michael Richards handles these situations.

The thing is that Franken started talking to the crowd about a fully-private system like Switzerland's, which is more conservative than what I'm hoping for, and he even started to have me convinced. The man has skills... I'd like to see some of the mocking, sarcastic Al Franken making fun of his colleagues on the senate floor, though.
posted by deanc at 2:29 PM on September 4, 2009


Joan Baez also recently deftly handled a could of ol codgers who where protesting her, they ended up asking for her autograph.

Oh, and being from MN, I have to say a way to go AL.
posted by edgeways at 2:30 PM on September 4, 2009


Al Franken shows a revolutionary way to deal with an upset crowd - talk to them like adults.

To be fair, those people were also acting like adults.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:32 PM on September 4, 2009 [26 favorites]


in other MN politician news on the other sid eof things, good old Michelle "crazyppants" Bauchmann is now whinging on that people are attacking her because they (in essence) don't want her to become President.

I'd almost be willing to pay money to see her in a national televised debate.
posted by edgeways at 2:34 PM on September 4, 2009


edgeways: "good old Michelle "crazyppants" Bauchmann is now whinging on that people are attacking her"

Well that's a bit unexpected. Thanks for catching that, google.
posted by boo_radley at 2:37 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I watched this earlier today and thought that it was well reasoned and well stated. It doesn't surprise me a bit, but it will surprise a lot of people at how good of a politician Al Franken will be. The guy is sensationally smart and well-informed.

The pessimist in me said, however, this isn't a < 10 second sound byte, so it will never fly with the American public, who can't be bothered with actually thinking about something. We have collective ADHD and Franken's eloquence will be lost in that sea.

I heard yesterday on the radio that this fake grass-roots movement to shoot down any health care reform is actually working. Makes me want to cry.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:37 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd almost be willing to pay money to see her in a national televised debate.

I kinda liked her line in her last healthcare townhall.

Bachman: Over in Europe, they’re having babies in the hospital hallways
Man in audience: That happens over here too!
Bachman: I’ve probably given birth here more times than you have

No, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s a little funny, you gotta admit.
posted by Think_Long at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


in other MN politician news on the other sid eof things, good old Michelle "crazyppants" Bauchmann is now whinging on that people are attacking her because they (in essence) don't want her to become President.

I think it's pretty safe to say that no one's attacking her because they do want her to become president.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2009


To be fair, those people were also acting like adults.

In that excerpt, so far: yeah. But I'm waiting to see the video from an earlier point in the interaction that the blogger has promised, because it was apparently pretty ugly. franken apparently talked a mob into talking like adults. That's amazing.
posted by maudlin at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2009


Its almost like some of these wingnuts believe that they have some sort of super majority.

That's exactly what they believe. They know that what they believe and how they think about the world is absolutely right, and most people--all the decent people anyway--agree with them, which is why they don't need facts and stuff to back them up. It is a certainty that only ignorance and a complete absence of reflection can sustain.

Franken did an amazing job in this clip, and I think what surprised those people most was that he responded to them directly, calmly, and with respect. That alone upends one caricature that many are investing a lot of energy in, the demonization and depersonalization of the 'other' (Obama is like Hitler, Democrats are Socialists, "They" are Evil and Bad).
posted by LooseFilter at 2:47 PM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Bauchmann is now whinging on that people are attacking her because they (in essence) don't want her to become President.

I have money saved up to donate to the following GOP PACs should they announce White House runs.

Michelle Bachman
Sarah Palin
Ron Paul
Mike Huckabee

I would like as much crazy on the GOP side as is humanly possible.
posted by empath at 2:49 PM on September 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm finally feeling better about the Lizard People not winning the MN election.
posted by grounded at 2:49 PM on September 4, 2009 [17 favorites]


They know that what they believe and how they think about the world is absolutely right, and most people--all the decent people anyway--agree with them,

Of course most people feel that way
posted by edgeways at 2:51 PM on September 4, 2009


I would like as much crazy on the GOP side as is humanly possible.

What could go wrong?
posted by vectr at 2:53 PM on September 4, 2009 [25 favorites]


Yeah, this was awesome. You could clearly see the point where the mob became a series of individuals who just said to themselves "Oh shit, this is a complex, multi-faceted issue and we're talking to someone informed about the details."
posted by odinsdream at 2:56 PM on September 4, 2009 [14 favorites]


I heard yesterday on the radio that this fake grass-roots movement to shoot down any health care reform is actually working.

Sad, but true. On the other hand, if we end-up not reforming anything, you get to kick in the teeth of any of the tea-baggers, the moment they complain about the cost of their insurance or a hospital bill. You have my permission.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:56 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


he responded to them directly, calmly, and with respect. That alone upends one caricature that many are investing a lot of energy in

Yes, this exactly. Great to see Franken break through that polarization to the extent that they allowed him to speak without interruption.
posted by Monsters at 2:57 PM on September 4, 2009


mcstayinskool: Oh, I'm not so certain about that. The soundbite is specifically designed for presentation in a specific type of interaction with the MSM who actively prevent speakers from engaging in subtlety or development. Franken's not talking to a camera, he's talking to a person, and he knows that as long as he keeps making eye contact, avoids openly insulting them, and doesn't give them an out, he can keep talking.

We already know that Franken is master of the soundbite. Some of his best comedy work centered on parody of that format after all. It's nice to know that he's good at the face-to-face sales pitch as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:58 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I heard yesterday on the radio that this fake grass-roots movement to shoot down any health care reform is actually working.

Also, this is the part where I encourage you to contact your elected officials.
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml
posted by Monsters at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Of course most people feel that way

(True, but in my experience most people are more open to reflection, persuasion, and/or general reconsideration than the typical true believer, especially when presented with facts.)
posted by LooseFilter at 3:03 PM on September 4, 2009


I'm finally feeling better about the Lizard People not winning the MN election.

This will be noted.
posted by Lizard People at 3:06 PM on September 4, 2009 [64 favorites]


empath: I have money saved up to donate to the following GOP PACs should they announce White House runs.

Seriously, those are Republicans. They can raise plenty of funds on their own, crazy or not. Why not give your money to candidates you support, who undoubtedly will need it much more than anyone the right-wing business-centric party will put forward?
posted by hippybear at 3:09 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know how the 'public option' became a line in the sand for liberals. I sure as fuck didn't vote for Obama so we could have a 'public option'. I'd never ever heard of the public option until 2 months ago.

I think the wingnuts, by focusing on nonsensical stuff like death panels and stuff that's easily compromised on like the 'public option' have kind of shot themselves in the foot. All the President needs to do is go -- okay, we've decided no death panels and we're going to put off the public option for a few years. So let's do this. And the rest of it will go through without debate.
posted by empath at 3:11 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


What could go wrong?

Remember that, as evil and crazy as Bush Jr. turned out, he ran as a semi-moderate 'Compassionate Conservative'. The simple fact that The Black Guy and The Democrats won last year demonstrates that America is clearly drifting away from the Republicans/Rightwingers, and I am quietly confident that the political strategy of Scream, Lie and Act Crazy will not work (even though my opinion of the American populace in general is pretty low). What's good for FOX is NOT what's good for the GOP.

But it's no wonder Franken pretty much bombed on talk radio. WAY too reasonable, no matter what his agenda.
posted by wendell at 3:11 PM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why not give your money to candidates you support, who undoubtedly will need it much more than anyone the right-wing business-centric party will put forward?

Because I'm supporting Obama and he won't need the money in the primaries.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on September 4, 2009


All the President needs to do is go -- okay, we've decided no death panels and we're going to put off the public option for a few years. So let's do this. And the rest of it will go through without debate.
Precisely. Especially because there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the Republicans will respond by moving the goal posts on to some other crazy claims about the "compromised" plan.
posted by deanc at 3:14 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are undoubtedly plenty of non-presidential candidates who will be running for office who can use your support. Obama is not the only person on the ticket, nor is he necessarily the most influential. But you can do whatever you wish with your money. I hope it all works out for the best in the end.
posted by hippybear at 3:22 PM on September 4, 2009


Here he is, surrounded by people demanding answers to the questions they have after listening to their Faux News and talk radio. You have middle-aged woman, some old woman in a housedress that I assume is her mother, and a middle-aged guy. Why doesn't he ask them, are you going to turn down the evil socialized medicine when you reach 65 and are eligible for Medicare?

I like the way he addressed their answers, but I doubt he changed any minds. It's a sad statement when we give kudos for people just acting like adults.
posted by Houstonian at 3:29 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bachman: Over in Europe, they’re having babies in the hospital hallways
Man in audience: That happens over here too!
Bachman: I’ve probably given birth here more times than you have


Me: Probably? What, you don't know how many children you've given birth to?
posted by eriko at 3:29 PM on September 4, 2009


wendell: "I am quietly confident that the political strategy of Scream, Lie and Act Crazy will not work

Just so have you the data available...

New unemployment data show why it will take years for the labor market to recover from one of its fastest and deepest declines since World War II, even if an economic recovery is around the corner. ... In all, some 14.9 million people are out of work and looking for a job. - AP

If they're still out of work by next November, so will be a lot of Democratic congressmen.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:33 PM on September 4, 2009


Houstonian: I like the way he addressed their answers, but I doubt he changed any minds. It's a sad statement when we give kudos for people just acting like adults.

Well, changing minds is hard and slow work, and doesn't happen in a single conversation. But certainly his methods here may have nudged some people.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:33 PM on September 4, 2009


I just don't understand why this is such an uphill battle. It's a crying shame. Every media outlet should be explaining that this is a no brainer.
posted by xammerboy at 3:34 PM on September 4, 2009


palin/arpaio 2012.

just let them burn it all down so we can start over again.
posted by hamida2242 at 3:35 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be fair, her biography notes that
[t]he Bachmanns have five children, Lucas, Harrison, Elisa, Caroline, and Sophia. In addition, the Bachmanns have opened their home to 23 foster children
and....
... [the Bachmanns] own a small business mental health care practice ...
posted by boo_radley at 3:36 PM on September 4, 2009


If Al Frankin and Minnesota seceded over this issue, I think I'd move to Frankinbury pretty quickly.
posted by Hammond Rye at 3:41 PM on September 4, 2009


I heard yesterday on the radio that this fake grass-roots movement to shoot down any health care reform is actually working.

Well something has to fill the vacuum left by Obama's (and the congressional leaders') complete failure to make a coherent statement on what they want to do and why.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:45 PM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I heard yesterday on the radio that this fake grass-roots movement to shoot down any health care reform is actually working.

Don't believe everyanything you hear on the radio. The August Recess is a lot like Half-Time at a football game and it's all pep talks. No actual points have been scored in the actual game. But if you go into the Second Half believing you've lost, you won't play hard enough to win.

Every media outlet should be explaining that this is a no brainer.

Every media outlet (even including 'public' radio & TV) is heavily dependent on advertising dollars from corporate supporters of the 'status quo', and the advertisers least likely to be cutting back these days are those who are not directly selling things.

Also, as much as I believe America needs RADICAL changes to Health Care, I've always known that it can only happen in baby steps, and sometimes you need to make sidesteps... or end runs, whatever. I love rthe way this is worded...
Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich struck a blow towards his goal of establishing a national government-run health care program by attaching a provision to health care reform legislation that would let states create their own health care programs.
posted by wendell at 3:46 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


He'll never get re-elected.

Tell that to Kucinich.

And besides, it is that kind of measured apathy that keeps us chained to news cycles, and the general ramping up of the political season as if it were the sport the people that own everything wants it to be.

Please be a part of classing up the discourse instead of making blithe comments to detract from the debate.
posted by captainsohler at 3:50 PM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


drjimmy11, I must semi-disagree; Obama's biggest communication problem, media-wise, seems to be too much coherency, not enough "OMG THE INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE USING DEATH PANELS NOW!"
posted by wendell at 3:50 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Senator Bill Hicks would not have handled it as well.

Senator Bill Hicks would have known to handle Rush Limbaugh.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:56 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, don't even think about clicking on that Limbaugh link at work or anywhere decent people can hear it.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:57 PM on September 4, 2009


All the President needs to do is go -- okay, we've decided no death panels and we're going to put off the public option for a few years. So let's do this. And the rest of it will go through without debate.

It's that "for a few years" part that's the problem. Bill Clinton had all the momentum in the world, in 1993, to put health care through. Not only did it not pass, it weakened him politically and gave Republicans a wedge in the 94 elections. Now is the first time Congress has seriously debated health care in 16 years.

If some kind of public option doesn't happen, it probably won't take 16 years. But I also don't think it will just be a few.
posted by zardoz at 3:57 PM on September 4, 2009


I can't believe this is the same guy who used to put on a really bad Irish accent and act like a flatulent leprechaun with diarrhea.
posted by chillmost at 4:00 PM on September 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


sorry, ...probably won't take sixteen years to come up again. When's that edit button gonna show up?
posted by zardoz at 4:03 PM on September 4, 2009


Senator Bill Hicks would not have handled it as well.

Oh man, I'd give anything to see that at a town hall meeting. Science, make it possible.
posted by sswiller at 4:05 PM on September 4, 2009


If some kind of public option doesn't happen, it probably won't take 16 years.

I don't actually care about the public option. I won't use it.
posted by empath at 4:13 PM on September 4, 2009


empath: I don't know how the 'public option' became a line in the sand for liberals. I sure as fuck didn't vote for Obama so we could have a 'public option'. I'd never ever heard of the public option until 2 months ago.

Congratulations for NOT paying attention during the 2008 campaign! Its one of the reasons I wanted him in (one of the many many many, I admit.) Heck, I was actually EXCITED that a politician dare attempt keep a campaign promise.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2009


[the Bachmanns] own a small business mental health care practice
At least no one will accuse her of smoking the profits.
posted by Flunkie at 4:25 PM on September 4, 2009


Oh, and being from MN, I have to say a way to go AL.

I don't get it. What does this have to do with Alabama? *rimshot*
posted by nola at 4:26 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


but it will surprise a lot of people at how good of a politician Al Franken will be. The guy is sensationally smart and well-informed.

Al was speaking in a local bookstore back in 2002-2003 on his book tour and the local access channel rebroadcast it for months. I was struck by how articulate he was and thus found all the hah-hah-Franken-is-just-a-clown attacks of last year to be totally unfounded and indicative of bad faith or ignorance of the attacker.
posted by Palamedes at 4:39 PM on September 4, 2009


And then, afterwards, Al put on his spandex and danced for the crowd like Mick Jagger.

Sorry.
posted by bwg at 4:50 PM on September 4, 2009


Why are ya'll so surprised? The man was a comedian. After rooms full of drunken hecklers, teabag tinfoil-hatters may not be as much of a challenge.

But it's no wonder Franken pretty much bombed on talk radio. WAY too reasonable, no matter what his agenda.

Franken bombed because they got rid of his co-host, who was very good at cutting off his rambling and tendency to indulge lame callers. And his show was too long. And Air America had fucked-up finances. And they got rid of Sam Seder, which was stupid.

/still misses Sam Seder on her radio
posted by emjaybee at 4:50 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't actually care about the public option. I won't use it.

Then you're one of the lucky ones*. In the meantime, there are about 45 million Americans with no insurance at all and probably at least as many with insurance who would like to switch to a public option. That's why a pubic option is such a "line in the sand" for "liberals".

*Lucky, that is, unless you have a long-term chronic illness/injury, and then no matter how good you think your insurance is, it probably won't be. But hey, you're a gamblin' man!
posted by zardoz at 4:55 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why are ya'll so surprised? The man was a comedian. After rooms full of drunken hecklers, teabag tinfoil-hatters may not be as much of a challenge.
I've heard a lot of people say this. I'm not convinced that it's as meaningful as it seems on first glance.

I've seen a lot of stand-up comedians deal with a lot of hecklers. Generally speaking, they don't speak to the hecklers as adults. They don't respect the hecklers' opinions. They don't listen to the hecklers. They don't try to find common ground with the hecklers.

What they do do is cut into the hecklers mercilessly and without relent.

A stand-up comedian dealing with a heckler is pretty much the exact opposite of what occurred here.
posted by Flunkie at 5:17 PM on September 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Franken pretty much bombed on talk radio...

I loved his show. It was the only non-bombastic talk radio I have ever heard.
posted by Mister_A at 5:34 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then you're one of the lucky ones*. In the meantime, there are about 45 million Americans with no insurance at all and probably at least as many with insurance who would like to switch to a public option.

A) The plan, with or without the public option, is going to get those people insured
B) I doubt that's the case.
posted by empath at 5:44 PM on September 4, 2009


*Lucky, that is, unless you have a long-term chronic illness/injury, and then no matter how good you think your insurance is, it probably won't be. But hey, you're a gamblin' man!

Again, that has nothing to do with the public option.
posted by empath at 5:45 PM on September 4, 2009


Congratulations for NOT paying attention during the 2008 campaign!

I paid attention. Health care just wan't one of "my issues." I voted largely on foreign policy/patriot act, etc..

When I refer to liberals, I'm mainly talking about bloggers like Kos and FDL, etc. They've glommed onto the public option thing for no discernable reason. They never, ever talked about health care during the campaign.
posted by empath at 5:47 PM on September 4, 2009


(well, they did, but only 'health care reform' in the most generic sense, not the public option)
posted by empath at 5:48 PM on September 4, 2009


earliest mention of public option that I could find on Daily Kos, using their site search:

December '08

Which was after the election. I'm sure I'd get similar results from other bloggers. I'm fairly sure it never came up during the presidential debates or in the primaries.

Not a single result from Firedoglake prior to May of this year.

I'm sure most 'liberal' blogs would be similar. I think it's a simple fact that Obama was not elected because he promised a public option.
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on September 4, 2009


[the Bachmanns] own a small business mental health care practice

LOL. If anyone needs mental help, it's her. She is even more insane than Sarah Palin.
posted by kldickson at 6:09 PM on September 4, 2009


Franken pretty much bombed on talk radio...

I loved his show. It was the only non-bombastic talk radio I have ever heard.

Exactly my point.

...they got rid of his co-host, who was very good at cutting off his rambling and tendency to indulge lame callers.

Katherine Lanpher had more radio experience, but it was mostly MPR (homebase of Garrison Keillor). His show was in trouble from day one, but losing her did not help. Franken's rambling, non-bombastic, indulgent style served him well upon his entry into serious politics, but not on talk radio. (the problems at Air America are another several dozen stories) It's why you're more likely to break into politics from being a hit on Top 40 (hello, John Hall) than Talk Radio.
posted by wendell at 6:22 PM on September 4, 2009


Ha! I'd vote for Daryl Hall, OR John Oates. But not John Hall. Regarding Franken, I kind of figured that the show was not going to last, but I enjoyed it while it was around. He had a special song for the Director of Strategic Communications at the Center for American Progress. And he would nerd out with Krugman!
posted by Mister_A at 6:55 PM on September 4, 2009


It's funny, I like Franken the politician, I like/ed Franken the comedian, but Franken the candidate did really really poorly in the debates, which shocked me. I think that is one of the reasons the election was so close, he sucked 7 kinds of ways at the debate in Duluth. I was pretty anxious after that, that self-same debate Coleman (shudder) came across much smoother and knowledgeable than Franken. Thank god Coleman failed in every other aspect.

As to handling hecklers, perhaps it is not so much the ability to respond to hecklers that served him well, but the ability to not get derailed and flustered by hecklers, being use to dealing to rogue elements in the audience.

When Katherine Lanpher was on MPR I didn't care for her style, but the lady that replaced Lanpher really grates on me and I long for Katherine now.
posted by edgeways at 7:24 PM on September 4, 2009


I don't remember Obama discussing the public option during the election either. Looking back at it I doubt they would have gone that far when discussing healthcare reform as McCain was laying on the "he's a socialist" stuff pretty thick.
posted by crashlanding at 8:28 PM on September 4, 2009


People didn't really talk about the public option before the election because the public option is already a "compromise"*. Prior to the compromise, liberal blogs were talking about single payer. It's only after they took single payer off the table that the public option starting getting more attention.

It's partly because ground was already yielded by giving up single payer that the public option has is now the "line in the sand".

* In true Democratic Party style, they went to the table already having given up their best negotiating hand.
posted by hambone at 9:38 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad Franken is finally in. It was obvious to me he would be a good Senator, but I wasn't sure if Minnesotans would give him the opportunity.

Now that he's got a chance to prove himself, away from all of the hyperbole of the election, I think more Minnesotans will warm up to him.

His approval numbers aren't great right now (barely positive), but I expect them to improve over his tenure in office.
posted by hambone at 9:50 PM on September 4, 2009


Franken will tell you that everything he learned, he learned from Paul Wellstone.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:58 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


empath: "I'm fairly sure it never came up during the presidential debates or in the primaries."
crashlanding: "I don't remember Obama discussing the public option during the election either. "
hambone: "People didn't really talk about the public option before the election"

Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress.
-http://www.barackobama.com via archive.org Feb 2008
http://web.archive.org/web/20080222011842/www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/

"If you don't have health insurance, you're going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. "
- Barack Obama, October 7, 2008

". . . U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, promotes a health care plan that provides insurance to all Americans through continued employer-based private plans and a new public plan."
-October 3, 2008 - http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2008/10/06/focus1.html?b=1223265600^1711278&brthrs=1

"The Obama plan would establish two new programs. A National Health Insurance Exchange composed of private insurance companies would offer coverage for individuals and small companies without access to insurance. Refundable tax-credits would assist small businesses in providing health insurance. A new public plan, designed along the lines of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, would also offer coverage to small companies and individuals."
http://timesfreepress.com/news/2008/oct/09/health-care-and-candidates/

I stand by my statement that this was well stated and part of the reason I voted for him. I actually cheered when he mentioned it in the town hall because I was afraid he'd shy away from it in a debated.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:26 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


As someone who listened to Franken's radio show for years, this doesn't surprise me at all - this is exactly the kind of politician I expected him to be. Calm, thoughtful, and considerate.
posted by heathkit at 12:29 AM on September 5, 2009


Franken pretty much bombed on talk radio...

I loved his show. It was the only non-bombastic talk radio I have ever heard.

Exactly my point.


I didn't really follow the ratings, but wasn't Franken's show doing pretty well? He had a pretty prominent midday slot for years, though I actually paid to subscribe to his podcast commercial free. When he left the show to run for office, they replaced him with Thom Hartmann. Hartmann's even less bombastic and more thoughtful than Franken's was, though he doesn't sing songs for the guests to introduce them :(

I guess my point is that there certainly is a market for thoughtful, non-bombastic shows. There should be more of them.
posted by heathkit at 12:33 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I should have been more clear who I was referring to when I said "people". I was trying to explain why empath didn't hear much about the public option on the "liberal blogs" before the election.

While the topic was covered in the diary sections of sites like daily kos, it wasn't front-page material very often.
posted by hambone at 7:39 AM on September 5, 2009


What Congresspeople and Federal Employees have is nothing like the 'public option' that's being discussed. When I worked for the Fed Govt, I had private insurance.
posted by empath at 7:44 AM on September 5, 2009


I don't actually care about the public option. I won't use it.
posted by empath

Then don't have one, err... I mean your well within your rights to not avail yourself of the option, but I'm curious if you think we shouldn't be providing this option for anyone. Even if you don't use the public option, the fact that it's providing competition with the private health insurance plans could benefit you.
posted by hambone at 7:49 AM on September 5, 2009


Long, nuanced, well-informed.

He'll never get re-elected.


Trust, young padwan learner. This is a revolution in politics. Like any revolution, it is messy. The GOP is throwing chaos at it because they don't want the idea of people deciding based on rational means. That would be a nightmare for them.

But the revolution is here. We saw it last fall. Nutjobs said Obama was an Ay-rab. They screamed about the "real america." And the ultimate non-thinker's candidate burst on to the scene--Sarah Palin.

Obama had a message for you--Hope. The whole purpose of the "hope" mantra was to get you to believe that talking frankly to people could work. And it did. And it will continue to work.

The media sells ads by showing the shouters, the yellers, the idiots--the drama. So they give you an impression that everyone out there is a bunch of idiots. The GOP knew this and they also knew that they could sow fear amongst democrats and democratic politicians by trying to make you believe that there were so many of their nut jobs out there that just being rational to them would never work.

It isn't true. Its a gigantic bluff that democrats and democratic politicians have bought into since the days of Lee Atwater. It works exactly as much as we are willing to drop our efforts to convince others because we think we will fail. If we believe we can succeed, it can be done. Hell, we already did it. A black guy just got elected President. Don't let the republicans tell you otherwise--stay the course, back the President, back reform, convince your fellow citizens.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:07 AM on September 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is a revolution in politics.


"Revolution" means a new third or fourth party, not supporting moderate conservatives (Democrats) over right wingers (Republicans).

Stop buying into that old charade on Capitol Hill and soon there will be a revolution.

Even douchebags like Berlusconi have real opposition, because in Italy they have real opposition parties.
posted by Zambrano at 8:29 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought the purpose behind having a public option was that it has become painfully obvious that traditional market forces are not working within the health insurance industry, and based on lessons learned up to this point, it will be necessary to create another competitor within that market place which is does not have the same profit motive in order to help foster the kind of drive down in prices seen in nearly every other industry.

An excellent "compare this" example is that of LASIK, which is often not covered by insurance, and which has seen all the usual invisible hand stuff come into play with quality of service and prices. This is not happening within the normal health insurance industry.

Without a public option, the only way to guarantee actual lowering of prices for policy holders is to have strict governmental regulation of how much a company is allowed to charge. And that is less likely to actually pass Congress, because of the deep intrusion into the free market it implies.
posted by hippybear at 10:12 AM on September 5, 2009


I'd like a liberal party that's bereft of nutbags from either side of the spectrum. (Right-wingers have more nutbags than the left does, but neither is free of nutbags!)

Not just us reasonable liberals but also some moderate fence-y conservatives (who are vastly easier to deal with than wingnuts) might like this.
posted by kldickson at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2009


empath, there's a reason why it's called the public option. It's an option!
posted by kldickson at 10:32 AM on September 5, 2009


Without a public option, the only way to guarantee actual lowering of prices for policy holders is to have strict governmental regulation of how much a company is allowed to charge.

I don't understand how the Public Option (which, I should point out, I am fully in favour of, albeit only as an outside observer) would achieve that. Please explain.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2009


A public option would be freed from the normal drive to maximize shareholder value at the cost of service which the rest of the health insurance industry is bound to because of incorporation statutes. The government would likely set the prices and determine what the services offered are. This would create a competitor in the marketplace which, hopefully, would have lower prices and better service than is being offered now by private firms. This competition would foster a downward drive on private insurance prices simply by having it be a player in the same marketplace as the private companies.

Right now, Medicare does not have the same downward drive on the market because it is not available to anyone who would want it. Opening up that program for everyone could (likely not guaranteed) help control costs and make individual insurance which offers real coverage at a reasonable price something which is easily obtainable on the open market. It currently is not. Individual insurance currently is too expensive for most to afford, or offers basically zero actual coverage at reasonable prices.

IANAE, so a lot of this is what I've come to understand during my self-education on this topic. If others have a more cogent way to state this, please do so.
posted by hippybear at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2009


Teabaggers Shout Down Wheel Chair-Bound Woman At Town Hall Meeting

Teabaggers' town-hall target describes the growing 'verbal violence'
posted by homunculus at 10:51 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


hippybear: Thanks! That makes sense. And, hey, I totally misunderstood which prices you meant; I was thinking of what the insurer pays out rather than what they take in.

empath, there's a reason why it's called the public option. It's an option!

I believe the actual Libertarian objection (setting aside, for good I hope, the Death Panel cuckooery), factual or not (anyone? Beuller?), is that paying into the government-sponsored program may not be optional, i.e. that dastardly Socialist bogeyman, mandatory taxation. O NOES!!! RUN AWAY!!!

(Also, kldickson, any examples of far-left Democratic nutbags? I might make some contributions, is all. Also, I am currently imagining a strange mythical beast with two scrota, and giggling.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:54 AM on September 5, 2009


(Also also, kldickson, yes, I decontextualized the point you were making vis "option," because I'm a jerk like that.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 AM on September 5, 2009


Sys Rq: Yeah, the whole "what the health industry is paid by insurance companies" is a part of this equation which has yet to be addressed by anyone who is formulating policy. It's a necessary part of health care reform, but right now, we're only looking at health insurance coverage for the citizenry, not the health services side of things.

I loathe the pricing structure. I've ranted in other threads about how difficult it is, as someone without insurance, to find a real price quote on a needed medical service. This is because, the direct providers have no clue what is actually charged for a service, and then the quoted price is often hugely inflated in order to obfuscate the real payouts which were negotiated with each individual insurance company. A service I pay $300 for as a non-insured patient, is likely billed out as one third of that to most insurance providers. I don't have the backing of an economy of scale to help keep my own prices low, so I get reamed at the register, and mostly don't seek treatment for my problems until all my home remedies fail.
posted by hippybear at 11:04 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq, a good example is PeTA.
posted by kldickson at 11:09 AM on September 5, 2009


what I want to know is if that woman who asked the original question was convinced. that might actually answer whether franken's laborious tactic of actually discussing all this over and over again with the damn, unwashed masses works or is just a waste of time because thems all gots theirs opinions from fox news already.
posted by krautland at 11:15 AM on September 5, 2009


There's also the Huffington Post. The anti-vaxxers hang out at the HuffPo.
posted by kldickson at 11:36 AM on September 5, 2009


I don't have a strong opinion on the public option either way. It's a means to an end for me, but some people think it's an end.

The point here is universal coverage, efficiency and ending abuses. None of those depend on a public option. And if it turns out that it does, there's no reason we can't do it later.

Let's get everyone in the system first, then see if the public option is needed.
posted by empath at 12:08 PM on September 5, 2009


Sys Rq, a good example is PeTA. There's also the Huffington Post.

Which arm of the Democratic party are they?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:10 PM on September 5, 2009


Most of their members are affiliated with the Democratic Party. The same way most birther idiots are Republicans.
posted by kldickson at 12:48 PM on September 5, 2009


Yes, but many birther idiots are not merely registered Republicans, but elected ones too. What's their Lefty equivalent?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:52 PM on September 5, 2009


Why are you limiting your query to elected Republicans?
posted by kldickson at 1:05 PM on September 5, 2009


Um...because that happens to be the question I'm asking?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:12 PM on September 5, 2009


I've said it before, but I'm a huge fan of Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler, and don't think that anybody does a better job of explaining the politics behind health care in the US. I think that this post and this post, about democratic/republican messaging over the last forty years, go a long way towards explaining the bizarre nature of this and many other debates in this country.

Some excerpts:

It’s simple-minded—but it works. On our side, we stand in line to help. For decades, almost all conservative spin has derived from two simple messages. When you get to work with such clear messaging, being a conservative pundit is the easiest job in the world:

- Big government never did anything right.
- Liberal elites think they’re better than you are.

Almost all Republican spin derives from those two messages. The conservative movements has been actively pushing those messages at least since the time of Nixon. No matter what happens in the real world, the conservative pundit simply dreams up a response which derives from one of those notions.


And on the other side:

Roosevelt was kicking up, at the vested interests—the powerful. Let us guess that he didn’t spend time ridiculing average voters, as corporate cable “liberals” now do. As a class of pseudo-liberal does all over the web.

In case I sound like I'm getting off-topic, Somerby is saying all this in the context of the current "dialog" on health care.
posted by Edgewise at 2:58 PM on September 5, 2009


Edgewise, that's depressing, partially because apparently there are some people who are too idiotic to go anything but 'duhhhhh oh his message was the shortest one I'll listen to him'.

Whatever happened to thought?
posted by kldickson at 5:16 PM on September 5, 2009


I don't know if widespread deep consideration of all the issues has ever been the fashion, if that's what you mean by "thought." Somerby's not merely being cynical, saying that Democrats need to get more simplistic. One of the points he's been developing in his blog, and I agree with this, is that American liberals have lost sight of the common people, and instead play into Republican charges of elitism.

Democrats haven't been forceful about their support for the working and middle classes, and Democratic politicians are nearly as co-opted by insurance companies as Republicans. They all get donations from these companies. His point about so-called liberal cable pundits is that their lives are so far removed from struggling people that they don't really understand the case for universal health care and government oversight of health care.

Still, I agree with you to a large extent. People should have an obligation to inform themselves, if they are to participate in their democracy. But I don't know if that culture was ever well-established. In any case, that is a cultural value that needs to be built from the ground up. I've often been accused of elitism when I suggest that people who don't keep themselves informed should voluntarily opt out of voting.
posted by Edgewise at 6:17 PM on September 5, 2009


That's what I meant.

Why aren't Democrats, perhaps, simply discrediting the charges of elitism by explaining why it isn't? Or explaining that Big Government, for one, in theory should protect folks from Big Business?

Why aren't people who do in fact understand the case for universal health care putting enough pressure on those who don't?

Why isn't anyone directly confronting the insurance companies?
posted by kldickson at 8:54 PM on September 5, 2009


And I don't like the romanticization of 'the common people' by a bunch of politicians. They're just as big a mixture of good and bad as people with more money. c.f. Town Hall idiots and George Bush. Two ends of the rich spectrum; both equally stupid. Or, by contrast, to elaborate the flipside of the argument, people such as my good friend in Romania who is dirt poor and at the same time getting a computer science and engineering degree from Romania's top polytechnic university and, say, Craig Venter. Two ends of the rich spectrum; both quite intelligent.
posted by kldickson at 9:00 PM on September 5, 2009


I think this is a bit odd for a metafilter post - SLYTPolititician advocating his position post? But I see it struck a cord for a lot of folks.

Having said that, Al Franken is a twelve-step guy in real life (he co-wrote When a Man Loves a Woman which is about alcoholism) and watching this I'm wondering how much that sort of self reflection influences his ability to communicate with angry people in this context.
posted by serazin at 9:52 PM on September 5, 2009


I didn't know there was a long video to be released, associated with this one. That'll be exciting.

I also didn't know that Al Franken was such a calm, reasoned man. That's really exciting.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:59 PM on September 5, 2009


I sure as fuck didn't vote for Obama so we could have a 'public option'.

Good for you, but I sure as fuck DID vote for Obama so we could have a public option.

You've got your issues: I've got mine. You've got foreign policy. I've got health care. I've got me a pre-existing condition and half of my monthly salary going to health costs (and yes! I am insured!). I'd just like to be able to, y'know, exist without emptying my veins into private health insurance every month.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:32 AM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


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