I got out of my car this morning and headed for the newspaper racks to pick up my copy of today's St. Petersburg Times -- a daily ritual for me.
But the headline screaming from the left-hand column of the front page stopped me in my tracks before I even got to the sidewalk:
'Public option' withers in reform
But it was what was contained in the article which really pissed me off. And Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has now heard from me. Follow me below the fold for details.
First, the subhead to that startling headline, and the story's lede:
Sen. Bill Nelson sees co-ops as key. Meanwhile, a bipartisan plan falls apart.
WASHINGTON -- When the long-awaited Senate health care bill is revealed today, the guillotine will drop on a government-run insurance plan.
Sure, some Democrats will continue to fight for the "public option," but it's likely the beginning of the end for the controversy magnet. Instead, Senate leaders will move toward nonprofit health care cooperatives, a widely unknown and untested concept.
The headline, subhead and first two paragraphs themselves were enough to provoke an angry rebuke to the editor of the Times regarding journalistic standards. But that's not what this diary is about. Because the real outrage appeared in the story's jump, on page 5A. Gasp with me, if you will, at the sheer arrogant audacity of a man I am now ashamed to say I voted for, and cheered when he appeared on stage with Joe Biden at a rally in Ocala during last year's campaign:
Nelson said most of the public option advocates "don't have a clue," about what it would take to create such a plan. "The whole thing is so complicated you can't expect them to understand.
"If a co-op serves the same purpose, what's the big deal?" Nelson added.
What.... The.... FUCK????!!!!!!
Yeah, fellow Kossacks, he's talking about you and me. We "don't have a clue" how fucking "complicated" the public option is.
Nelson also repeated the concern trolling Blue Cross line about how you can't get 60 votes with a public option. But it was laying "teh stoopid" brand on me -- on us, all of us who worked out butts off to give the White House and solid majorities in the House and Senate to Mr. Nelson's party; and who have called, written, donated, signed petitions, attended town hall meetings and generally put our blood, sweat and tears into the fight for a public option.
We just don't have a fucking clue, the good Senator says.
Here, then, is my response:
Dear Sen Nelson
I have voted for you in every election in which you have run. In return, in today’s St. Petersburg Times, you called me stupid. You now have some serious work to do to regain my vote.
I can’t be expected to understand the "complexities" of a Public Option. Excuse me, sir?
As for co-ops "accomplishing the same thing, they won’t. They will take too long to set up, and as regional entities, will not have the clout to take on the big insurance companies. Only a national Public Option will do so.
Here’s what YOU, sir, need to understand:
If you vote against a Public Option, or if you vote with Republicans to prevent a bill with a Public Option from reaching the floor, I will not only never vote for you again, I will donate to, work for, and do everything within my power to elect whoever runs against you -- preferably a Democratic primary opponent, but for a Republican in the general election if need be.
You represent us. We put you in office. To suggest that we can’t "possibly understand" something you claim to understand perefectly is an unbelieveable insult to those of us who voted for you.
Actually, sir, I have read extensively about the Public Option. I do understand it. And I understand it is the last, best hope for people in my position to get health care without being bankrupted.
To you, this may just be a fun political game. To me, it is literally a matter of life and death, a question of both my physical and financial survival. If you vote to deny me the option I need, do not expect my support. In fact, expect me to work my tail off for whoever stands against you.
Good day, sir
Okay, Florida Kossacks, the gauntlet has been laid down by our senior senator. Who is with me in picking it up? Write Senator Nelson. Tell him you do "have a clue," and he'd better get one, too.
Update: Wow! First trip to the rec list! Thanks, everyone!
UPDATE NO. 2: A lot of comments have questioned my threat to work for a Republican challenger to Sen. Nelson in 2012.
I've responded to some of those comments, but the bottom line is this: I won't know until sometime in the 2012 election cycle what the situation will be.
Will health care reform be law by then? If so, what form will it have taken? What role will Sen. Nelson have had in shaping that form?
Will Nelson have a Democratic challenger in the primary? Will that challenger be a Progressive or a Blue Dog? Wouldn't it be great if it was Alan Grayson?
Who will the Republican challenger be? Will it be a rabid right-winger like Katherine Harris or a moderate like Crist?
Until all those questions are answered, I can't know what I will actually do. I do know this -- Bill Nelson has, as of today, lost my vote. And he has a lot of work to do to get it back. Voting for the Public Option -- or, at the very least, not voting with Republicans to prevent the PO from getting to reconciliation -- is his only chance to do that.