Tales from the Trail

Are folks ‘for’ or ‘agin’ healthcare reform? Both, according to the partisan rhetoric

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Republicans say Americans don’t want the president’s healthcare reforms. Democrats beg to differ. What’s true? Depends how you figure, though as Mark Twain observed: figures don’t lie, but liars … well, you know.

Not that anyone would lie, of course. But opinion polls have been dumping figures aplenty into the debate in Congress, and the debaters have been eagerly using them to patch up their arguments’ foundations.

Take the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey: 46 percent want Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s plan; 45 percent don’t.

Some might see that as evidence of an American public split right down the middle. But not Steny Hoyer.

“The Wall Street Journal poll that just came out shows the majority of those responding indicate they’re for the bill,” the House Democratic majority leader told ABC’s Good Morning America.

Pelosi cracks whip for healthcare votes

USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSI“I never stop whipping,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday.

She was, of course, talking about the virtually non-stop quest for healthcare votes.  (Sorry were you thinking something else?)

“There’s no beginning, there’s no middle and there’s no end. My life is a constant whip operation,” she said to laughter at yet another event to promote healthcare reform on Capitol Hill.

People not familiar with the process for getting votes on Capitol Hill often think of arm-twisting, when in formality it is a whip operation with someone who actually gets the title “Whip.”

Millions of dollars shelled out in TV ad war over U.S. healthcare

A TV ad war is raging on healthcare legislation. And it’s costing millions of dollars on both sides. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

The campaign-style messages target Democratic and Republican lawmakers who will decide the fate of the White House-backed measure, and are up for reelection in November.

“Pass health insurance reform now,” declared an ad by Health Care for America Now, a coalition of more than 1,100 groups — including labor, civil rights, children and women. The group announced it had begun airing the spot on Tuesday in selected congressional districts at a cost of $1.4 million.

Tea Partiers converge on Washington to kill the (healthcare) bill

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The rally began with an unaccompanied rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung to an oversized American flag hoisted aloft by a middle-aged man dressed like Captain America.

But the Marvel Comics super-hero impersonator was one of the few fringe elements on display, when about 200 Tea Party members gathered in a small grassy park in the shadow of the Capitol Dome with Washington-based organizers from conservative special-interest groups, House Republicans and, inevitably, the news media.

They had come from as far away as Texas, Michigan and Georgia for a “Kill the Bill!” rally meant to launch an 11th hour grass-roots lobbying effort to stop House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats from achieving victory for the Obama healthcare plan.

Massa waning as news fodder but may rise again to plague Democrats

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Eric Massa may soon vanish from the 24-7 news cycle. But the martyred Democrat, who says he fell from grace beneath the naked power of Satan’s spawn, could reappear some day soon as a burr under the saddles of his former congressional colleagues.

Republicans would like Massa to do for them what Mark Foley did for Democrats four years ago: provide a scourge with which to flail the other guy in a mid-term election year.

Foley, a Republican, resigned from Congress in September 2006 amid allegations that he sent sexually explicit emails and instant messages to male congressional pages. As such, he was among the denizens of that swamp of Republican corruption that Nancy Pelosi vowed to drain just before Democrats took control of Congress and gave her the speaker’s gavel.

Republican wants more Massa exposure but Democrat says it’s over

House Republican Eric Cantor thinks Congress should get to the bottom of Eric Massa’s bizarre tale of congressional nudity, satanic White House advisers, the groping of men (or not) and a congressional healthcare putsch by Democrats. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the case is over. 
 

“I know that Steny joins me in hoping that the ethics committee in Congress looks into this adequately and can get to the bottom of all of this,” said Cantor, who appeared along with Hoyer on NBC’s Today show. ”The best place for this to be resolved is in the ethics committee and let’s get to the bottom of it.”

Otherwise, the whole thing seems to make Cantor want to hold his nose. And he is not alone. “I’m a little taken aback and stunned,” the Virginia lawmaker confided. “I don’t know the facts of this at all. I know that the American people are sickened.”

Massa: some tickling, nothing sexual, and it’s about healthcare vote

One day after resigning as a freshman congressman from Upstate New York, Eric Massa has found his 15 minutes of fame. USA-CONGRESS/MASSA

He landed on two major talk shows Tuesday — Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck and CNN’s Larry King — and they both wanted to know about allegations of sexual harrassment against male staffers.

Larry King asked him outright if he was gay. Massa, who is married, said it was an insult to every gay American that such a question was being asked in this day and age, and he refused to answer it.

White House responds to naked House Democrat’s satanic tale

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Eric Massa was a little-known freshmen House Democrat only a month ago. Now he’s a political media sensation and a darling of Talk Radio/TV commentators capable of provoking the White House on healthcare reform.

Why the metamorphosis? Massa abruptly resigned from Congress, revealed he had an angry run-in with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel while the two were naked in a congressional gym shower, and now claims he was pushed out of office by the White House to keep him from voting against healthcare reform.

Oh, and he’s come to the conclusion that Emanuel is a “son of the devil’s spawn.”

Democrat gets naked with Rahm Emanuel, labels him “son of devil’s spawn”

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Eric Massa knows all about awkward. The House Democrat, who leaves Congress today over a sexual harassment complaint by a male staffer, says he’s been up-close, personal and naked with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel — all at the same time.

Emanuel, Massa has decided, is a blood relative of Satan.

“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn. He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive,” Massa says in a recording from his radio show posted to the RealClearPolitics Web site.

Massa’s close encounter with Emanuel occurred in the showers of a congressional gym about eight weeks after he entered Congress in January 2009.

Obama bests Republicans on healthcare reform in public confidence poll

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Barack Obama appears to be winning the popularity contest over healthcare reform that’s been playing out in public since his White House summit on Feb. 25.

A new Gallup poll suggests that 49 percent of Americans have confidence in Obama to make the right recommendations.

That’s not a majority. But it’s way higher than the 32 percent who think Republicans in Congress would do the right thing.
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The findings appear to contradict Republican claims that the public favors their decentralized, piecemeal approach over Obama’s comprehensive reform plan.