WASHINGTON—Nothing says that you have arrived more than when you have the POTUS on your side. He specifically makes mention of you as an example and seemingly is going to bat for you: You have surpassed Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame by doing so.
So what are we to make of our jacket-off (Reagan’s rolling in his grave), sleeves-rolled-up, take-no-prisoners President Obama in Ohio, when he illustrates the need for “health care reform” by using a sole American citizen’s medical plight, in this case, one Natoma Canfield? Anecdotal citations are what make stump speeches: Obama has chosen Natoma to be his poster girl, without utilizing the vast resources of The White House to verify her claims.
On his zillionth “final” speech on “health care reform,” an accompanying media interview with Jake Tapper—did I say “final speech”—stumping for The Health Care Bill That Won’t Die, Candidate for Life Obama made what is all-too-frequently a fatal mistake: He didn’t slow down enough to let his operatives vet the anecdotal subject.
Natoma Canfield needs and is receiving the appropriate response to her cancerous plight all the while being used as a backdrop to a desperate full-court press to pass something—anything—by this administration and the congress on behalf of “health care reform.”
If Keith Olbermann and his pathetic PMSNBC sycophants can self-identify with the debate on health care by using self-anecdotal examples (i.e. Olbermann’s father’s recent death), then I can too: My father, my mother, both my aunt and uncle all died from cancer, the heartbreaking disease that Natoma suffers from and she is courageously battling. And I still smoke Camel straights.
But this ain’t about cancer; it’s about grandstanding. It’s about being a perennial candidate, not a leader; it’s about turning the presidency into a stand-up routine worthy of the late, great Slappy White or Jerry Seinfeld, by President Obama.
Natoma Canfield is worthy of our concern. All cancer patients are—and as far as I know, all cancer patients in the United States—especially the ones blessed enough to be treated by the Cleveland Clinic, where people come from all over the world to seek treatment, can receive treatment from one facility or another. Honestly, even the lame, ask-no-questions media would be able to find Natomas lying in the streets untreated if they could.
But they don’t. America takes care of its own and then some.
So somehow, Natoma could not make the Obama road show in Ohio, with her sister substituting instead at the “rally,” but she could call into MSNBC’s “Countdown” to the substituting host Lawrence O’Donnell (along with Michael Moore) in order to sycophantically respond to O’Donnell’s mantra that all problems related to health reform can be laid at the feet of our ominous, mean, Dick Cheney-run, patient-depriving health insurance companies.
Here’s what our Slappy in Chief said during his latest stand-up routine:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Ohio! (Applause.) It is good to be here in the Buckeye State. Congratulations on winning the Big Ten Championship. (Laughter.) I’m filling out my brackets now. (Laughter.) And it’s even better to be out of Washington for a little while.
POTUS: Yes, that kid Turner looks pretty good. You guys are doing all right.
It is wonderful to be here —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
POTUS: I love you back. I do. (Applause.)
Couple of people I just want to make sure I give special mention to. First of all, you already saw him, Governor Ted Strickland in the house. (Applause.) Ted is fighting every day to bring jobs and economic development to Ohio.
So is your terrific United States Senator Sherrod Brown. Love Sherrod Brown. (Applause.) Your own congressman, who is tireless on behalf of working people, Dennis Kucinich. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Vote yes!
POTUS: Did you hear that, Dennis? Go ahead, say that again.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Vote yes!
POTUS: A couple members of Congress are here: U.S. Representative Betty Sutton. (Applause.) U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge. (Applause.) U.S. Representative Tim Ryan. (Applause.) U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson. (Applause.)
I want to thank Mayor Tom Perciak here in Strongsville. Please, Mr. Mayor, you’re on. (Applause.) That’s a good bunch of folks we got here in Ohio, working hard. Which is why I’m glad to be back—and let’s face it, it’s nice to be out of Washington once in a while. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Connie—I want to thank Connie, who introduced me. I want to thank her and her family for being here on behalf of her sister, Natoma. I don’t know if everybody understood that Natoma is in the hospital right now, so Connie was filling in. It’s not easy to share such a personal story, when your sister who you love so much is sick. And so I appreciate Connie being willing to do so here today, and—(applause)—and I want everybody to understand that Connie and her sister are the reason that I’m here today. (Applause.)
See, Connie felt it was important that her sister’s story be told. But I want to just repeat what happened here. Last month, I got a letter from Connie’s sister, Natoma. She’s self-employed, she’s trying to make ends meet, and for years she’s done the responsible thing, just like most of you have. She bought insurance—she didn’t have a big employer who provided her insurance, so she bought her health insurance through the individual market.
And it was important for her to have insurance because 16 years ago, she was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer. And even though she had been cancer-free for more than a decade, the insurance companies kept on jacking up her rates, year after year. So she increased her out-of-pocket expenses. She raised her deductible. She did everything she could to maintain her health insurance that would be there just in case she got sick, because she figured, I didn’t want to be—she didn’t want to be in a position where, if she did get sick, somebody else would have to pick up the tab; that she’d have to go to the emergency room; that the cost would be shifted onto folks through their higher insurance premiums or hospitals charging higher rates. So she tried to do the right thing.
Well, Slappy, the facts of the matters are these:
- Natoma is not only being treated by The Cleveland Clinic—among the best in the world,
- She does not need to lose her home,
- She is not going to be out in the street, and
- She stands a fair chance of beating—again—the cancer that threatens her life.
This is because—gasp—America’s health care system cares and even more important, works. It really works, just as it is now doing without the “health care reform” Obama, Reid and Nanny Pelosi say we need. Or else.
Perhaps, President Obama and others should just leave the stand-up comedy routines to the late, great Slappy White or Jerry Seinfeld, as well as leaving providing health care to our health care industry.
Nicholas Thimmesch II, son of the late Los Angeles Times columnist Nick Thimmesch, is a longtime media and communications consultant to numerous campaigns, government representatives and public policy organizations, serving in the Reagan White House as a staff writer.