Friday Talking Points [85] -- Roll Up! See The Show!

[ Posted Friday, July 10th, 2009 – 17:26 UTC ]

"Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends..."

All week long, this line has been running through my head. It's from an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer suite of songs called "Karn Evil 9," from the album Brain Salad Surgery. Which, of course, has an album cover designed by H.R. Giger, the same guy who did the artwork (and designed the monster) for the movie Alien (looking at the album cover or the album sleeve, it's easy to see the similarities).

This past week was chock full (in the media sideshow, at least) of both Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin (known as "the gift that keeps on giving" to late-night comedians and political columnists alike). We will honor this media coverage throughout this week's Friday Talking Points column introduction, by inserting random ELP lyrics from the First Impression (Parts 1 & 2) and Third Impression of this song (the Second Impression is all instrumental...).

Step inside! Hello! We've the most amazing show
You'll enjoy it all we know
Step inside, step inside.

The other thing I can't get out of my head this week is the old Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" bit from the 1970s: "Breaking news -- this just in -- Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!"

Right before your eyes, we pull laughter from the skies
And he laughs until he cries.
Then he dies. Then he dies.
Come inside, the show's about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo.
You've got to see the show, it's rock and roll....

But enough frivolity. Oh, wait a minute, we just haven't had enough frivolity. I direct your attention, ladies and gentlemen, to the upcoming tight election for who will lead the Young Republicans. The lead candidate is a 38-year-old woman who apparently hasn't gotten the "Stop driving minorities away, dammit!" memo from Michael Steele, since she got caught publicly "LOL-ing" a few racist insults. Her Facebook comments have caused quite a stir at The Daily Beast, who is breathlessly tracking the whole ugly situation for all to see.

I have to admit, my initial response to these stories was: "38 years old is a young Republican?!?" I thought this was supposed to be a group of conservative college students! Well, I guess, upon reflection, in today's Republican Party, she's one of the youngest members left. My second response to the story was: "They can't find anyone who can spell to lead the Young Republicans?"


Soon the Gypsy Queen, in a glaze of Vaseline
Will perform on guillotine
What a scene! What a scene!

Over on our side of the aisle, we have Roland Burris, who officially announced today that he won't seek election to a full term in the Senate next year (I simply can't say "re-election" because he was selected -- not elected -- to Obama's old Senate seat, by none other than disgraced Illinois ex-governor Rod Blagojevich). Whew! There's one freakshow we'll avoid next year.

Come inside, the show's about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you'll get your money's worth
The greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth.
You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo.
You've got to see the show, it's rock and roll....

And, under the big top (at least on a state level), we can finally announce that the New York Senate will end its run as Most Embarassing State Legislature In The Country (complete with duelling gavels), after a Democrat turned his coat back (after initially defecting to the Republicans) and decided that he will, after all, caucus with his party -- but only after they made him majority leader.

We've got thrills and shocks, supersonic fighting cocks.
Leave your hammers at the box
Come inside! Come inside!
Roll up! Roll up! Roll up!
See the show!

In more serious news this week, the healthcare reform battle goes on in Congress (more on that later in the column, with an epic ranting Friday Talking Points section devoted to the subject).

Cold and misty morning. I heard a warning borne in the air
About an age of power where no one had an hour to spare,
Where the seeds have withered, silent children shivered, in the cold
Now their faces captured in the lenses of the jackals for gold.

Will the Democrats compromise their compromise? Or will they truly figure out that they actually have a congressional majority? Stay tuned...

Congress has been showing some moxie against the White House, which some Democrats worry about, but which I point out is supposed to be the natural order of things. "Co-equal" branches of government are supposed to be, well, co-equal. There's a tug of war between Obama and Congress over exactly how many people on the intelligence committees are supposed to be briefed by the CIA, over what exactly the CIA has been hiding for the past eight years, over whether to end the ban on federally-financed needle exchange, and over a foreign aid "signing statement" which Obama tried to sneak by everyone. As I said, this worries some Democrats, but shouldn't really be seen as anything but the normal power struggle between Capitol Hill and the White House which was built into our system of government.

We would like it to be known, the exhibits that were shown
Were exclusively our own
All our own. All our own.

Have I forgotten anything? Oh, there was that bit about Obama getting an agreement with Russia (or at least the precursor of an agreement) to reduce the number of nuclear weapons the two countries hold by a significant amount (although we'd still both have plenty left to blow anything to smithereens we ever take a notion to, rest assured).

Guardians of a nuclear dawn
Let the maps of war be drawn.

In the Cold War era, this would have dominated the news for a solid week, but it was barely mentioned this week, as there were (quite obviously) bigger fish to fry. Such as the photo of Obama channeling his inner Bill Clinton, for instance.

Performing on a stool, we've a sight to make you drool

Speaking of fish, Sarah Palin's line about "the only thing that 'goes with the flow' is dead fish" was a pretty good one, I have to say. Just on an aw-shucks level of political soundbites alone. Although her Twitter message about Todd "slaying salmon" wasn't that great a line at all. Won't someone think of the poor dead fish? Heh heh.

Suffering in silence, they've all been betrayed.
They hurt them and they beat them, in a terrible way,
Praying for survival at the end of the day.
There is no compassion for those who stay.

OK, this column is rapidly getting out of my control, so I have to move on to the more important things before it totally loses all touch with sanity. In other words, we hereby return you to our cradle-to-grave Michael Jackson coverage, now entering its 294th hour...

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We're so glad you could attend
Come inside! Come inside!


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Just kidding! What we have to move on to, is of course, the weekly awards part of our show. And I promise, I'll stop with the ELP quotes, OK?

We had a good selection of Democrats this week who qualified for the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award, I am glad to say.

The aforementioned Roland Burris only qualified for a "Mention" (I can't even bring myself to say the word "Honorable" in this sentence, sorry), for realizing what a lost cause trying to keep his job would be next year, and wisely decided not to waste the time or money losing.

Harry Reid, astonishingly enough, (kind of) qualified this week, as he attempted to show some backbone by telling Max Baucus to start concentrating on a healthcare reform bill that Democrats were interested in, rather than one Max' Republican buddies liked. But then Reid blew it, by stepping back into Timidity Land (where he has taken up permanent residence). The only thing Reid and Baucus and the Republicans are now agreed upon, it seems, is that healthcare legislation isn't going to happen on Obama's timeline. Which is why, in horse racing terms, after a seemingly strong start to the week, Reid ended up scratched in the MIDOTW sweepstakes. I wrote about this whole fiasco yesterday, complete with an idea for Obama to regain control (by threatening a special session of Congress).

Instead, this week's MIDOTW goes to the three strongest voices in the debate so far: Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Charles Schumer, and private citizen Howard Dean. These three have shown other Democrats how to defend a good idea all week. Sanders, who is not even technically a Democrat (we're bending the rules because we can), is trying to corral Senate Democrats into agreeing not to vote with Republican filibuster attempts, so that the holdouts can be easier identified. He actually began this effort last week, so this is a slightly belated award for him (which was pointed out to me in the comments to last week's FTP, thanks).

Charles Schumer has earned his MIDOTW award this week for drawing a line in the sand, and holding firm to his position: "anything less than a strong public option on day one is unacceptable." While Obama has shied away from drawing "bright" lines in the sand (which I also wrote about this week), Schumer showed us all how it should be properly done, in multiple media appearances. A few more voices like his would be nice, but for now, we have to say "keep up the good work, Senator Schumer!"

And Howard Dean, who really would have made a dandy Secretary of Health and Human Services (I'm just saying...), has been truly impressive on the healthcare issue as well, from his website, showing what fierce advocacy should look like.

So the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week is a three-way tie between Senators Schumer, Sanders, and Dr. Dean. To all three, congratulations, and well done!

[Congratulate Senator Bernie Sanders on his Senate contact page, Senator Charles Schumer on his Senate contact page, and if you support Howard Dean then sign his petition to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

The Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week was none other than President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. He apparently leaked the story that he (and by extension, we were supposed to assume, Obama) favored a "trigger" for the public option in the healthcare debate, and compounded this sin by leaking it to a bastion of conservative thought, the Wall Street Journal. Democrats were not amused, and Obama had to answer for Rahm's missteps.

Rahm, you will remember, was likely the reason Howard Dean wasn't even considered for the Obama's cabinet, because Dean had the temerity to be right, in a difference of opinion when Dean was Democratic National Committee chair and Rahm was heading the House's "get Democrats re-elected" committee. Dean was pushing his (now-vindicated) "50-state strategy," which Rahm was seriously opposed to.

But Emanuel, by making a back-room argument among Democrats public (in the WSJ, no less), and by being (yet again) on the wrong side of the argument, earns this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

Perhaps its time for Obama to (as Reagan would, famously, on occasion) "take him out to the woodshed."

[Contact Rahm Emanuel by sending a comment to the White House contact page, to let everyone there know what you think of his actions. Heck, why not give them a phone call?]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 85 (7/10/09)

I'd like to try something different this week. Normally, we present here talking points for Democratic politicians to use over the weekend (to talk to the media, and make their case to the public). But this week, I'd like instead to offer up some talking points for The People to say to the Democratic politicians. This is the healthcare reform crunch time, and your elected officials need to hear from you. So here are seven ways to get their attention. I went a little crazy with the italics (just to warn everyone up front), because the public usually doesn't mince words the way politicians do.


   This year. No excuses.

"Healthcare reform has got to pass this year, or we know you'll be too busy campaigning next year to tackle it. So, no excuses -- healthcare reform must happen this year. We haven't been electing Democrats to Congress in droves just for the sake of having a lot of Democrats in Congress. The magic number of 60 in the Senate is not a goal unto itself. This is not Sesame Street, with 'The Count' telling us what a wonderful number 60 is. We elected you folks to Congress to get something done, and if that doesn't happen then we are not going to help you keep your jobs the next time around. 'We tried, but couldn't manage to get it done' is no longer good enough. You can either do the job we sent you and Obama to Washington to do, or you will not have that job much longer. This is the year. Get it done. No excuses."


   Anything less than a strong public option is not good enough

"You started this process by bringing everyone to the table with one glaring exception -- the single-payer supporters. So you started off by compromising. And all that talk of 'everyone gets a seat at the table' was sheer and unadulterated bunkum. Let's just admit that fact up front, shall we? Since you started with a compromise, further compromise is not acceptible. We don't care if Republicans vote for it. Can you name how many Republicans voted for Medicare? I didn't think so! Because NO ONE CARES today! In forty or fifty years, do you think history will care what the vote count was? No! History will care whether you fixed the problem or not. So let's keep our eyes on the ball, mmm-kay? It's just about time to kick the Republican obstructionists away from the table (just like you kicked the single-payer people to the curb), and get something good actually passed by the majority party. And that something had better include a strong public option, or it will be nothing more than window-dressing. And we, the American public, will know the difference this time around. So get it done right. Stop compromising, stop fantasizing about a bipartisan bill, and pass the public option."


   Sorry, Rahm, a "trigger" is not good enough

"You know what the word 'trigger' says to me? It says that you want to kill something. So, for you trigger-happy healthcare reformers, I have to say: 'nice job choosing a metaphor, guys!' We do not need to wait to know that healthcare is broken in this country. The evidence is all around us. Talk to a few million of your constituents, why don't you, and they will tell you all their heath insurance horror stories. Each and every one. The only reason we would need a 'trigger' is if we somehow weren't sure that there was a problem. Here's a news flash: there is a problem! Passing a law that says 'well, if the problem gets a whole lot worse, maybe we'll fix it' is not good enough. Somebody needs to pull the trigger and kill the 'trigger' idea, because, honestly guys, you're not fooling anybody. Sorry, Rahm."


   A co-op is not good enough

"Likewise, this idea of tiny little state co-ops is not acceptible. Maybe California could get a big enough pool to buy into it, but what about Vermont? Or Wyoming? I tell you what -- why not keep the co-op idea, and add it to a strong public plan? The more ideas in the marketplace the better! Give people as many choices as possible, but do not limit their choices by trying to substitute co-ops for a strong public option. Because co-ops are simply not good enough."


   We're watching you

"Democrats who have not come out in support of the public option should be put on notice -- we know who you are. We know what your position is, we can find out how much money you've taken from the healthcare industry, and we will fund ads that explain this relationship to your constituents. Talk to a few of the Senate Democrats who have already felt this wrath, they'll tell you. And sorry, Mister President, but we're going to go right on funding these ads -- to save you from yourselves. Most of the time, on most of the issues, we let you get away with the stinking, fetid pile of fiction that 'campaign contributions don't influence my vote,' but this time we are not going to. This is fair warning, especially those of you who live in media markets where television ads are cheap. If you attempt to sell out your constituents, we are going to point it out. Again, and again, and again."


   What is worth more to you -- healthcare campaign donations, or getting reelected?

"You may think that those millions of dollars you've taken from the healthcare industry will be enough to get you re-elected. You should think twice about that. Because we are going to make it clear in no uncertain terms if you vote with the Republican obstructionists this time that everyone knows exactly what you've done. We are going to make it our mission to see that you get defeated, hopefully in a Democratic primary. We are quite serious about this, and we think the public will be receptive to the message that you were responsible for denying them choice in healthcare because you were so busy suckling at the healthcare industry lobbyist teat. So, given the choice, would you keep the gravy train from the healthcare industry rolling if you knew it wouldn't help you keep your job? That, indeed, it might cost you your job? Because that is the choice we are presenting."


   We will actively support removing you from office if you do not deliver

"We are not going to just be disappointed if you kill true healthcare reform. We are going to actively support just about anyone who runs against you. We will encourage a nasty and expensive primary fight with a candidate of your own (purported) party. And if that leaves you too weak to defeat your Republican opponent next year, so be it! Because having you in your seat with a 'D' next to your name is completely worthless to us if you are going to vote with the Republicans anyway. It is time to make the choice, and do what is right. If you do, we will support your re-election loudly and strongly. If you don't, beware the whirlwind you will reap.


Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


13 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [85] -- Roll Up! See The Show!”

  1. [1] 
    fstanley wrote:

    Great song choices - this has been a week for show stoppers!

    I think you are right that now is the time for the public to speak out and let their members of congress know that they will not be voting for them - no matter how much money they have to spend on campaign adds - at the midterm if we do not have a strong public option in the healthcare reform bill.

    Money and the influence that comes with it is what is driving this debate. Until we show Congress that we are serious there will be no real improvement in healthcare in this country.


  2. [2] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    These TPs are great for anyone writing a letter to their congresscritter!

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Osborne Ink -

    The only thing I would substitute is "email." Since the anthrax attacks, physical (snail) mail takes as long as 4-5 weeks to be screened before your Congresscritter gets it. So, just a word of caution to everyone, use email or pick up the phone. Go to or for contact info for your reps...



  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That was beautiful.

    I wonder if I might be so bold as to suggest a candidate for consideration for a future MIDOTW, not him...

    Check this out...;jsessionid=4204CBC5110EAD5F80E5174D443766F1?diaryId=2933

    By the way, watch any basball tonight? Heh heh

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    As is normal for this time of year for an O's fan..., I do not want to talk baseball.


    I will check out the links, though.



  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Answering a few HuffPost comments here (still working on my computer upgrade, problem should be fixed within a week, sorry...).

    Mildmannered -

    I got this question over at DemocraticUnderground as well. I direct you to FTP [83] from two weeks ago. Check out the MIDOTW section for a list of people keeping track of health care lobbyist money. is a good place to start...

    PrincipiaChamp and RumiSouth -

    I always wonder, when I get inspired to do these "rant" columns, whether I'm going too far or just getting too far over the top. "Should I pull back?" I wonder. But, usually, I wonder this after I've already written the damn thing, so I just go ahead and post it to see what people think. C'est la vie. I have to say, surprisingly (to me) these have been some of my most popular columns. But it's always a risk... I mean, EVERY single person who was alive in the 1970s has heard this song on the radio about A HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES, but is it relevant to the whippersnapper demographic today? I wonder, but, again, it's usually after I post....

    So hearing your kind words is especially warm to my heart on days when I take risks like this.



  7. [7] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:
  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Osborne Ink -

    That is -- without doubt -- the coolest thing I've ever seen a high school band perform. The singer was a little off on her timing, but man those kids are really good!

    It's nine minutes long, and only Part 1 of the First Impression, but it is well worth downloading. Thanks for pointing it out!

    (From HuffPost)
    Nutcase -

    I hear where you're coming from, but I have to say that Obama himself was one of the leaders in putting us where we are now -- by (1) never supporting single-payer as a candidate, and (2) saying over and over again "if we were starting from scratch, single-payer would likely be the best way to go. But we're not. So we're not really going to seriously consider it."

    Max Baucus having doctors arrested was egregious, but Obama himself was the one who largely took this off the table before the debate even started. Like it or not, that's where we are now.


  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    one line i'm glad you repeated in more than one talking point was "NOT GOOD ENOUGH." I know that democrats tend to get bored by repeating slogans, but that one, as well as "NO EXCUSES" could really span across a number of different issues.

    trigger? co-op? anything less than a strong public option?


    bank bail-outs? "stimulus" packages? anything that pays investment bankers to take away people's homes?


  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    "NO EXCUSES"???


    Who has mentioned that concept several times in the last few months???


    "Who was it that said, 'Those who can't think, fight?' Oh... I guess it was ME!"
    -Judy Robinson, LOST IN SPACE


    I think ya'all better prepare yourselves to make good on your threats. Because it doesn't look like Obama HealthCare has much more of a chance than Hillary HealthCare had.

    So, ya'all might just have to live up to that deal you made...

    Which will ensure that my prediction of a 2010 blowout for the GOP will come to pass..


  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    You're a real card and you ought to be dealt with. :D

  12. [12] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Chris, did you see this?

    We're already halfway to single-payer.

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:


    You're a real card and you ought to be dealt with. :D

    Don't I wish! :D


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