Is Kenneth Gladney a Democratic Plant?

Watching these town hall battles — which seem to have settled into a stasis as supporters of health reform have decided to show up finally — has convinced me of one thing: Obama is winning this August health care battle.

No, his ideas aren’t necessarily winning plaudits among various elements of elite political commentary. Nor are skeptics necessarily embracing any of the five broad proposals on the table. Instead, his political opposition is imploding in a fit of self-referential rage.

There are lots of very serious issues to discuss, including how we will pay for health reform, how it will affect the doctor-patient relationship, how it will affect Medicare, how doctors will be paid under a new system, how a public option or co-op will affect the private insurance industry, and most importantly — how each of these interchangeable parts will affect the other.

But we aren’t having that discussion this August. Instead we are talking about a black conservative in St. Louis supposedly beaten up by “SEIU thugs,” even though the video of the incident shows Gladney walking around while two SEIU members lie on the ground. Then, as tea party protesters picket the SEIU, it comes out that poor Kenneth Gladney had no health insurance

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. If anything was more calculated to make the Right look foolish than this St. Louis incident then I’d love to see it. Of course, that’s only one example of the nuttiness on the right, including posters of Obama as Hitler, and screaming wackos of various stripes.

Sarah Palin’s obscene death panel comment only underscores just how much the Right has ceded serious discussion of health care.

Much like the radical left in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the nuttiness of the protesters only helped to marginalize them among the larger population.

And I’ll add one more thing. I don’t think this is all about some racial subtext, as Paul Krugman argues. I think it’s about the last gasp of Reaganism, which died in the 2008 election. Just as the FDR New Deal Coalition fell apart in 1968 so did the Reagan Coalition falter in 2008. The Tea Party protesters and other assorted screamers, birthers, deathers, etc. are desperately trying to keep the band together for another go-around. Meanwhile, the country has moved on. Yes, the transition is rocky, as it was for Nixon in 1969-71 (and Reagan in 1981-83). But the era of angry, white, conservative, elderly, rural and exurban voters dominating American politics is over. And without even a Republican leader to rally them, the frustration and rage becomes more palpable. “Socialist” wasn’t enough of an insult to defeat Obama in November. It still isn’t.

As for health care reform, the various Democratic members of Congress besieged by these nutters have only reaffirmed their commitment to health care reform. Whether it still includes a public option is still up for grabs. But I have no doubt after watching the self-immolation of the Right that health care reform will pass. Perhaps President Obama should invite some of these tea party protesters to the signing ceremony. He’ll need them to push through the rest of his agenda.



  1. “As to not being able to speak at the rally on Saturday – have you ever taken pain killers?? Do you suppose, he held off for the national interview, but on Saturday at the rally, let others do the talking.”

    He looked pretty good during the interviews Friday for someone who needed to be in a wheelchair and was holding off on taking his much-needed painkillers. I'm just sayin'.

    BTW, I can't help but notice that no one here seems to have any sympathy for the minister who had his shoulder broken and dislocated.

  2. He is covered under his wife's insurance plan.

  3. There you go, Steve. I think daveinboca just answered your question.

  4. I think this whole incident is up for grabs and because the right is keeping relatively quiet about it
    after the first few hours, I am even more sure that this is not a straight-forward incident.

    I have seen, I believe 3 videos on this. Two were on the scuffle itself. One was pretty poor quality and
    short. It was almost impossible to tell what was going on. The second one was longer, and Kenneth
    was seen walking around apparently undazed and uninjured in any significant way. The next day
    I saw a video of him on Fox News (surprise, surprise) with his lawyer and he spoke of his night in the
    emergency room and that he was still in pain – from his bruises.

    The next day I saw him in a photo giving autographs from a wheelchair. Somebody is up to no good.
    And that may include the union member who got into a scuffle with him, but I don't think he is the
    only one up to no good.

  5. What you all seem to miss is that this bill does NOT provide anyone with more healthcare. It only provides an alternative to insurance (that will eventually put the insurance companies out of business). We already have healthcare for all. And in most cases, anyone can get VERY good healthcare and have almost any problem fixed under our current system. However, bringing more government into the equation will only create shortages and we will end up with rationed care. You don't believe it, but it has been proven time and again. Yes, people DO have the right to be upset and to speak out. That is what this country was built on. You can go ahead and pass around your doctored videos and other propaganda all you like, but it isn't crazy people who want to stop this bill. It is average citizens, who are tired of their so-called representatives and senators that have left them in the lurch, who want to take back their country and their freedom from what is becoming a very oppressive government.

  6. By the way…when I was between jobs or working as a temp I had no insurance. But I was still lucky to 1) have my gall bladder removed (by an excellent doctor), 2) had surgery to remove something from my neck, and 3) was hospitalized for 5 weeks with MRSA and a blood clot in my leg. Nobody ever denied me or turned me away for having no insurance.

  7. I was about to attempt a rational response to janinec. Then I read more of her posts and realized that it would be a waste of time.

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