AFSCME mailer attacks Obama on health care (updated)
by desmoinesdem, Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 02:24:46 PM EST
My husband just brought in the mail. Almost every day we receive something from a presidential candidate or two. Today we got a mailer attacking Barack Obama's health care plan. The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees produced and paid for the mailing.
More details are after the jump.
Outside groups can campaign for a presidential candidate, but they can't coordinate their communications with the presidential campaign.
AFSCME, the union with the largest membership in Iowa, endorsed Hillary Clinton this fall and has been campaigning for her. One undecided voter in my precinct, a retired AFSCME member, told me the union has been pushing Clinton very hard to its members.
Since no one in my household has ever belonged to AFSCME, this mailer clearly is going to a wider group of Iowa Democrats. The union is also advertising on the radio (and perhaps also on television), reaching the broad population.
The mailer is a single sheet, 8 1/2 by 11. One side has big a photo that looks like a grandmother and a little girl, underneath these words:
For those without insurance, Barack Obama's band-aid solution is no change at all.
The parts I put in bold are in red on the mailer. Below this photo is contact information for AFSCME and a message about how AFSCME paid for the mailing, which was not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
The other side of the page has these words in large brown print at the top:
Barack Obama's health care plan
is not up to the job.
There are three photos on the left side: a man with his head in his hands, a woman apparently in a hospital bed with an oxygen tube attached to her nose, and an elderly woman using a walker. On the right side of the page, next to those photos, is this text:
Obama proposes leaving 15 million Americans uninsured.
Barack Obama spends a lot of time promising bold leadership. He claims his health care plan covers everyone, but his proposal does not match his words.
Instead, Obama took the timid way out, offering yet another band-aid solution.
John Edwards has said "as many as 15 million Americans would be without coverage" [Sioux City Journal, November 30, 2007] under Obama's plan.
Timid leadership won't change Washington.
Band-aid solutions won't solve health care.
And we don't have time to wait for Obama's plans to catch up with his promises.
The first sentence I bolded in that blockquote is in red print, with the word "uninsured" underlined.
The bottom part I bolded is in bold black print.
At the very bottom of the page are these words (the first sentence in red, the second sentence in brown, with larger font):
American needs real change on health care.
But Barack Obama's plan is just more of the same.
This mailer interests me for a few reasons. Although AFSCME supports Hillary, the mailer says nothing about her health care plan or why it's better than Obama's.
On the contrary, the piece quotes Edwards criticizing Obama's plan. Is this intended to boost support for Edwards (as opposed to Obama) among the anybody-but-Hillary voters?
Or is it intended to make Iowans who may not like negativity believe Edwards is behind this piece attacking Obama?
The rhetoric about Obama's "band-aid solution" being "no change at all" and "just more of the same" is a direct assault on Obama's attempt to present himself as a bold leader offering "change we can believe in."
And the line about his health care plan being "not up to the job" subtly reinforces a message some Clinton surrogates are pushing: that Obama himself is not up to the job. In fact, a careless reader skimming the page may even read it as saying directly that Barack Obama is not up to the job.
As I've written before, I think it was a mistake for Obama to offer a health-care plan that was less than universal. He let Edwards and Hillary get ahead of him on this issue. I have no idea whether this mailing will persuade anyone, but I thought it was worth bringing to the community's attention.
What do you think?
Curiously, AFSCME has argued against mandates in the past, as recently as last spring when President Gerald McEntee testified on the issue at a congressional hearing.SECOND UPDATE: Got an e-mail from the Edwards Iowa HQ. This is from a press release issued on Thursday:
Edwards Campaign Responds to Underhanded Trick by Clinton Allies Des Moines, Iowa Iowa caucus goers have been sent a direct mail advertisement that appears to be an attack on Senator Obama by John Edwards, but is actually produced and funded by an organization supporting Senator Clinton. Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, Iowa State Director for the Edwards Campaign, made the following statement: There have been a lot of misleading tactics and tricks in the last few weeks, but we've just never seen anything like this before. Either they are trying to trick people, or they've realized that on health care, John Edwards is the candidate who speaks honestly about what it really costs and what will be required to have truly universal coverage. He has led the debate on health care with the strongest, boldest plan that covers everyone and is paid for by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. It's fine to have an honest debate about policy, but Iowans deserve better than planted questions and campaign fliers designed to fool them. More information about the disguised attack by the Clinton team is available at: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/12/19/526774.aspx