| So. There was a meeting hosted by a president in Montana yesterday. While I'm at the NN09 in Pittsburgh, I followed Facebook accounts of the ugly, ugly protests - and Charles Johnson's coverage in the Gazette left out the uglier aspects of the Tea Baggers, the white supremacists, the Obama = Hitler signs, etc & co, and the pushing and shoving that went on. (Rumor: a Tea Bagger was arrested?) Remember: these protests are not about health care....
I'd point you to the various summaries of Obama's speech in Bozeman, but better to read what he said. For me, the biggest news was that he reaffirmed his commitment to the public option, and his continued advocacy for a surtax on the wealthy (as opposed to taxing health care benefits) as a means for paying for health care reform. You'll notice that both stances differ substantially from where Baucus (apparently) stands.
Which brings me to Matt Gouras' excellent analysis on the visit:
By making a rare presidential visit to Montana, Barack Obama has put even more pressure on the rural state's senior senator, Max Baucus, and his panel to produce bipartisan health care legislation in just a month's time.
Given the context of this visit - the fact that Baucus' committee is essentially single-handedly holding up health care and gutting provisions that the Democratic caucus thinks crucial to reform - you can't help but think Obama's visit is intended to put pressure on Max by appealing directly to his constituents. And then there's this from the Gouras report:
For his part, Baucus doesn't appear worried that a bipartisan group of six senators has already blown through several targets for producing a Finance Committee bill. The veteran senator has told Obama that "it will be ready when it's ready" - even if that means waiting until September.
Heh. Tough words, eh?
Probably as a result of signals from the White House, which Jane Hamsher helps us interpret. The WH, through Emmanuel, is blaming Baucus for the logjam in Congress, and he and Jim Messina are being set up to take the fall if all fails, and for any untoward deals cut in Baucus committee with the health-care industry. (Wasn't it in the Indy's profile that Baucus said his whole life prepared him for this legislation? Little did he know how prescient that comment may be...)
So now Obama's in Montana playing "good cop."
Oh, and in case you want a good laugh, check out Montana GOP chair (and Missoulian!) Will Deschamps lame attempts to put forth positive policy on health care:
Deschamps said the current system does have problems, but he doesn't think the federal government ought to be the one trying to fix it. Asked what role central government should play in health care changes, Deschamps said he "didn't have a hard and fast answer."
He said the government should use other means to change health care.
"Maybe they should spend their time in the (public relations) end of it," he said. "They should promote healthy living."
Some people can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, he said, particularly young people who don't think they'll get sick.
"There ought to be some way to encourage them to buy health insurance without government interference," he said.
That would lower premiums for everyone else.
Uh...okay...so basically stick with the status quo. Cool.