Skip to comments.Don Walton: TV attack ads may help Nelson (D-NE)
Posted on 08/10/2009 10:13:37 AM PDT by stan_sipple
When you're in the middle, they come at you from both sides.
Ben Nelson probably is used to that by now.
The health care reform TV ads directed at him in Nebraska by two progressive, or liberal, Democratic groups have attracted considerable national attention.
Those groups want the Democratic senator to support legislation that includes a public option alternative to private health insurance.
Nelson hasn't flatly ruled out any form of public option, but don't bet on him supporting a government alternative.
The TV ad campaign in Nebraska stirred up considerable chatter on the Huffington Post, MSNBC, The Hill and other media outlets and blogs.
The Wall Street Journal took note of the ads and one sponsoring organization's description of them as "a warning shot to any senator who tries to block President Obama's public health insurance option."
The money to fund that ad campaign is "being spent stupidly," Cokie Roberts and Steven Roberts wrote in a column published in the Oakland Tribune.
"Nelson has not won four statewide elections by misreading Nebraska voters," they wrote.
"A card-carrying moderate, he's the only kind of Democrat with a chance of winning that deep-red state.
"In fact, getting attacked by out-of-state liberals is a badge of honor.
"The TV ads are a total waste of money - except to reinforce Nelson's down-home credentials."
Closer to home, the Nebraska conservative Republican blog, Leavenworth Street, earlier reached the same conclusion.
The anonymous Street Sweeper wrote:
"Nelson gets to:
Fight an Outside of Nebraska Leftists group. Say slow down on crushing the economy and upturning your current health care system (to a government that can't handle Cash for Clunkers). Stick up for the Nebraska insurance industry and its employees. Get a Nebraska Republican to vouch for him. Have everybody think the health care plan runs through him. "How is this not a win-win-win-win-win for The Benator?"
The Nebraska Republican is Mike Johanns, who issued a statement defending Nelson and condemning the ads.
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Why can't we have a civil and factual debate?
Fake grassroots organizations, monied special interests, cable TV hate merchants and talk radio windbags have stirred a witch's brew.
Not good for either democracy or representative government.
Some of the rhetoric is reckless, absolutely false or uninformed, and dangerous. History suggests it even could be lethal.
No opinions expressed here on the best system of health care reform.
But we ought to at least get a more realistic view of the landscape in framing the debate.
A single-payer government system has been off the table virtually from the beginning. A government option is not likely to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee, which is the center of gravity for health care reform legislation. Millions of Americans already are enrolled in a government health care system. The largest component is Medicare. Government is not always the answer, but it is not the enemy.
In Nebraska, we have chosen public ownership of all our electric utilities.
Our state is the only one in the nation to follow that course.
And just try to imagine what Nebraska's economy would look like without Social Security, Medicare and federal farm payments.
* * *
David DiMartino, former Nelson spokesman and deputy chief of staff, has formed a new Democratic communications partnership called Blue Line Strategic Communications. Johanns will sweep across western and northern Nebraska this week for appearances and events in 11 communities. Mark Fahleson, who blogs and tweets as GOP state chairman, has been appointed to the Republican national committee's technology committee. Welcome back, Huskers, but we've got a little hardball to play first.
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