Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 20, 2009

LETTING THE LOUDEST VOICE WIN.... Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa, the leading Republican negotiator on health care reform, claims to be working on some kind of bipartisan solution to the systemic crisis. He told the Washington Post yesterday, however, that right-wing activists have convinced him to abandon ambitious, bold, comprehensive policies, and instead embrace smaller, weaker, and more timid policymaking.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a key Republican negotiator in the quest for bipartisan health-care reform, said Wednesday that the outpouring of anger at town hall meetings this month has fundamentally altered the nature of the debate and convinced him that lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort.

After being besieged by protesters at meetings across his home state of Iowa, Grassley said he has concluded that the public has rejected the far-reaching proposals Democrats have put on the table, viewing them as overly expensive precursors to "a government takeover of health care."

Because he's heard from so many angry conservatives, the Republican senator said, negotiators should scale back any and all efforts at reform. He added that while senators have been looking at a "comprehensive" approach to helping tens of millions of uninsured families, those efforts should be reconsidered because of the right-wing shouting at "the town hall meetings."

Calls for reform are "not quite as loud as people that say we ought to slow down or don't do anything," Grassley said. "And I've got to listen to my people."

Grassley has become increasingly incoherent in recent weeks, but these remarks are among the most foolish to date. As Daniel Politi put it, the Iowa senator is arguing "he makes his governing decisions based on who screams the loudest."

That sounds absurd, but it's precisely what Grassley is saying. He has 3 million constituents. Let's say, hypothetically, Grassley has heard angry right-wing screams from, say, 3,000 Iowans at town-hall events. That would mean the senator had heard strenuous opposition to reform from exactly 0.1% of his constituents. If he's heard far-right town-hall enmity from 30,000 Iowans -- a farfetched claim, to be sure -- that would still only be 1% of the people Grassley represents.

What's more, we're not just talking about a small fraction of a larger population, but also a small group enraged by right-wing lies, and organized by right-wing groups and private insurers that do not represent the American mainstream.

So why would Chuck Grassley say Congress and the White House should follow the demands of these unhinged activists? Because he's a surprisingly irresponsible senator, looking for an excuse to oppose reform.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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What a fucked up country!

Polls showing 40% of amerikan sheeple believe that Medicare is NOT a government program.

Polls showing 42% of amerikan sheeple believe that any health care reform passed will include death panels.

Polls showing 76% of self-identified repugnican sheeple believe that the recession began since Obama became president.

We do NOT have a functional democracy. A functional democracy requires voters who have some understanding of the truth.

We have a system where he who has the most money can confuse and convince enough of the amerikan sheeple to act against their own good to protect corporate profits.

Within this system, it is not at all surprising that Grassley acts the way he does. He is just doing what his wealthy & corporate masters say to do.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on August 20, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

So Republicans have decided to take protest demonstrations seriously. The world is out of joint.

Posted by: Virginia on August 20, 2009 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Of course we lie.
We know that we lie.
We know that our corporate media will not call us on the lies.
We know that there are no ramifications for lying.
We will continue to lie.

Accept the fact that we republicans don't give a damn about the truth and you can't do anything about it that will reach the American people!

F*ck the American workers. We have the money to confuse and convince them to support our interests over their own.

It is all about power! You lose and republicans win.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on August 20, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting that Grassley is considered a "powerful Republican." He lies openly in hopes of seeding clouds of confusion and anger among lo-info voters, tells us Republicans won't back down an inch on health care reform and then bitches that the Democrats have given up on bipartisanship.

He's a prime example of where the Republicans get their power. From lying, projecting and exploiting ignorance.

Posted by: chrenson on August 20, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Don't you see? Because the angry mob was organized, riled up, and dispatched by the affiliates of $Greed Co. USA$™ to the town halls, this necessarily shows "proof" in Grassley's mind how much pull they have. Therefore, the best a bought and paid for coward can do is bend over.

Posted by: about time on August 20, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Is Grassley off the committee now?

What a coward.

Posted by: JJC on August 20, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Karl Rove said that "we are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." He added condescendingly that the poor stooges in the "reality based community" can report on the new realities that they've created, while the Republican Ubermenschen are out creating new realities for them to report on. We saw how well that worked out for Bush, and how effective Rove was at creating a permanent Republican majority, but obviously they haven't given up either the method or the philosophy behind it.

Posted by: T-Rex on August 20, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Just tell Grassley to turn down the sensitivity on his hearing aid.

There, fixed.

Posted by: GreyGuy on August 20, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

...the Iowa senator is arguing "he makes his governing decisions based on who screams the loudest."

But isn't that how it's always worked? The far right never has had substantial numbers, but they aren't afraid to scream at the top of their lungs, for however long it takes. That is how they gained their influence in the first place. Also, they own some expensive microphones, such as FOX News, and they aren't afraid to use them.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on August 20, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Have you made your daily call to Grassley's office? I have,


Personally, I think he's suffering from dementia.

Posted by: karen marie on August 20, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Grassley's supporters created these protests by feeding right wing media through "citizen" groups that are really corporate public relations lobbying groups. The whole operation was designed and engineered so that the protestors give Republicans the excuse to do nothing and protect their corporate benefactors.

This has been in operation for many many years. The only surprising development is that Rachel is now reporting on it in detail. On American TV. Astounding development.

Posted by: Jan in Stone Mtn on August 20, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Not only that -- Obama won Grassley's state, which has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in 5 of the last 6 elections, and now has a Democratic governor, and a 4-3 Democratic edge in its congressional delegation. Grassley was last on the ballot in 2004. Obama won his state by more than 9%. Are we ruled by our elected representatives or by mobs?

Posted by: Dave in DC on August 20, 2009 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks so much for falling into Obama's, Rahm's, and Baucus's trap. They LOVE when you pay attention to irrelevant sideshows like Grassley and thus take your eye off what THEY are doing to fellate their insurance-company paymasters at our expense.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on August 20, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

It makes sense if he decides to run for Governor. It's all about Republican primary politics, where grand old men can lose to library trustees willing to pander to the raw red meat bunch.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 20, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

It is an amazing demonstration of the power of shouting and the power of lies; and it often seems like lies is all they've got. Cartoon on that topic is here. Is anyone on the right of the debate actually arguing with, well, facts and stuff?

Posted by: macleodcartoons on August 20, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

T-Rex: Rove didn't say that.
Bruce Bartlett did.

Posted by: Stranger on August 20, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Wingnut Senator in 1941: because we've heard from so many angry right-wing isolationists, we've decided not to do something big and expensive like WWII, so we're going to let Hitler take over Europe.

Posted by: Speed on August 20, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Second Karen Marie on the calls. Is there any way to gin up a flood of 'angry' emails from Iowans demanding he support comprehensive reform (I kind of doubt the screamers in the crowds were even Iowans, I've never met one that could work up that much ire about anything)

And Grassley is clearly demented. Voters are so d_mn stupid they just keep voting the same old coots back in, even though they would not trust their crazy old grandpa of the same age to even take out the trash, let alone run the country. The way these SOBs refuse to give up the stage, pretty soon we are going to be having public policy made in an Alzheimer's ward.

Posted by: dcsusie on August 20, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Grassley is important only to the extent that the Democrats - seeking an excuse for their own failure to perform - use the asserted need to negotiate with him as cover for that failure.

This process is beyond absurd.

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on August 20, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

For those whose political analysis goes no further than criticizing Obama and the Democratic Party for failing the people, Grassley's turn is incoherent and crazy. Why would Grassley give up a successful strategy to exploit Democratic Party weakness?

Grassley's turn is part of another story: the intimidation of GOP office holders by the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity faction of the GOP. For Grassley to even appear to negotiate with Dems is unacceptable to the GOP base. The propagandists are setting legislative strategy on that side of the aisle.

Grassley is as craven as every other GOPer who meekly apologizes to the almighty Rush after suggesting that Rush does not lead the party.

Posted by: tom in ma on August 20, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Can you spell "Charles Grassley", boys and girls"



Good. I knew you could....

Posted by: S. Waybright on August 20, 2009 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Come on, Steve, it has been obvious since the Specter deal that Grassley can not vote for any health care reform bill and survive a primary dominated by the most radical and energized Republicans in Iowa. The only possible R votes are Snowe, Collins and Martinez (assuming he is done with politics).

Posted by: Th on August 20, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, it must be the middle of August! I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Part of the reason that the big lobbying firms have been working to crank up the whackos and make all the noise has been to give Congressmen and Senators who never intended to vote for reform a 'plausible' excuse. I've been waiting for the inevitable round of announcements from scumbags like Grassley that they were going to "listen to the will of the public" and vote against, as if that wasn't the plan all along. Kabuki, kabuki.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 20, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Message to President Obama --

Which do you think is more important for Republicans

1. meaningful health care reform?
2. failure for your administration?

Hint: Barack this is not a trick question. I just checked and my cats know the answer.

Posted by: oh really on August 20, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Is there no credible Democrat willing to contest Grassley for his senate seat??

Posted by: gdb on August 20, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

I am NOT a wacko. I am a thirtysomething mother with a college degree so lay off the name calling. I DO NOT want socialized medicine. I lived on the border of Canada most my life and they came here to get treated. I don't want the government intruding in the private sector. Just because there are people who disagree with you doesn't mean we are crazy. Besides, I seem to recall a lot of liberal LOUD mouths during Bush's years

Posted by: Tina on August 20, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

No, Tina, you're not a wacko, you're simply ignorant and easily manipulated.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on August 20, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Follow the the money, The Republican Party members in the House & Senate have been bought and paid for by big besiness and thats the bottom line.
Anyone that votes for them in the next election is no better than a thiefe and lier even to thier own family.
we need a Mr.Smith to vote for and send to Congress, a guy that can wake up in the morning and look at himself in the mirror and feel PRIDE that he (or she) has done the right thing.

Posted by: emebc on August 20, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Tina: check out the websites advertising medical tourism for Americans. Large corporations that are self-insured are setting up in-house medical tourism for their employees to save money. Some large insurance companies are looking at how to handle liability to send people overseas for treatment. A Canadian coming to the US to get botox or Lasik is a long way from hip replacement in Thailand or heart bypass in India.

Posted by: Th on August 20, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Tina, if you want me to take you seriously, stop talking about socialized medicine. The changes in even the most radical bill are SO far away from "socialized" medicine that it's ridiculous to use the phrase. (None of them can reasonably be called "fascist" either, by the way.)

If you want me to take you seriously, tell me when, exactly, you want the government to stop their "intrusion into the private sector", so I know when there will be no more enforcement of contract law or any of the government regulation that actually enables commerce in the private sector of a modern industrialized nation to exist. Perhaps we can phase it out slowly, doing away with food and drug safety regulations, border and customs control, and banking law?

It's not people who disagree with me that I have a problem with, it's people who throw around nonsensical charges with no basis in reality that bother me. Make a case based on something other than emotional rejection of something imaginary and I'll listen to it.

If you don't want to be lumped in with the whackos, then don't act like one.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 20, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Grassley is more afraid of losing the primary than the general election. In the primary, the nuts (who make up a large part of the Republican party, especially its activist wing) to whom he's kowtowing could wield decisive influence.

And Grassley is pretty flaky himself.

Posted by: Pol on August 20, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

So it turns out that Republicans do negotiate with terrorists.

Posted by: shortstop on August 20, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Why not just chop health care reform into a zillion single-issue bills? I'm quite certain it can be done in such a way that nothing meaningful happens. I believe the strategy is called 'divide and conquer'. But hey, at least every congress-a-hole gets to campaign on having voted FOR health care reform.

Posted by: Chopin on August 20, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

oooops. I meant the above comment for the previous 'two bills' post.

Posted by: Chopin on August 20, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Is anyone here from Iowa? 'Cause that sounds like the bat signal to call his office in support of reform in a loud, clear, unmistakable voice, from where I'm sittin'.

Posted by: jibeaux on August 20, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

You write, "Grassley has become increasingly incoherent in recent weeks."

Exactly. Which is why the Dems should keep on being nice to him. He's digging ever deeper that gaping Repub hole. And, as the Repubs become ever more ridiculous and extreme, strong liberal themes and voices are emerging.

Posted by: CMcC on August 20, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Chuck Grassley: braying Republican mobs have convinced me to do what I had already planned to do.

Posted by: buggy ding dong on August 20, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK


Define "socialized medicine."
And by "I don't want the government intruding in the private sector," can we presume you oppose rules that prevent companies from selling you sausages made of sawdust, medicines made of tap water and piss, and tickets for rides on rusty airplanes piloted by drunks? Please clarify.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Gregory on August 20, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

And by "I don't want the government intruding in the private sector," can we presume you oppose rules that prevent companies from selling you sausages made of sawdust, medicines made of tap water and piss, and tickets for rides on rusty airplanes piloted by drunks?

Of course she doesn't. Those rules benefit her personally, while healthcare reform will benefit other people more than it benefits her, so therefore it shouldn't be done.

Most people learn by kindergarten that it's not nice to take things from other people and refuse to give them anything in return, but then you get people like Tina who seem to have missed out on those basic lessons.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on August 20, 2009 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Of course she doesn't. Those rules benefit her personally, while healthcare reform will benefit other people more than it benefits her, so therefore it shouldn't be done.

I doubt she's given it even that much shallow thought. Tina's post shows she's able to regurgitate Fox-issued pablum. It doesn't demonstrate that she's capable of going through even the simplest process of attempting to justify her self-centeredness.

Posted by: shortstop on August 20, 2009 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Grassley is incoherent at all. I think he's diabolical. First he says he takes his cue from the public who show up at his meetings. Then he stirs up fear & anger at his public meetings with the kill-granny lies, etc., then he says Congress should scale back health insurance reform because the public is all stirred up & fearful & angry. This is Chuck Grassley listening to himself (& his financiers).

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

Posted by: Marie Burns on August 20, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

It�s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want �faceless bureaucrats� making medical decisions but they have no problem with �private sector� �faceless bureaucrats� daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people (honestly where can they go with a pre-condition). And who says that the �private sector� is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that�s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a �lynch mob� advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types AKA �screamers� are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It�s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that�s all I been seeing, they hate and can�t debate. Too bad.

Posted by: Paul on August 20, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, S. Waybright - I think you're on to something (as opposed to just being "on something", like Michelle Bachman is). Republicans who oppose healthcare reform because "people are just so angry" ought to be routinely derided as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" who are afraid of big ideas and bold initiatives. They're never shy about labeling others when they're in power, and even when they're not.

Posted by: Mark on August 20, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

A "surprisingly irresponsible" senator?

That can't be.

He's a "...key Republican negotiator in the quest for bipartisan health-care reform... ".

It said so in the paper.

Posted by: JW on August 20, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Chucky G needs to see a doc ? Make use of his health care plan to see if his increasing incoherent state is caused by a medical condition ?

Posted by: bigutah on August 20, 2009 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Does anybody still doubt that Grassley has been looking for any way possible to kill reform. I'm willing to be that if all sessions were recorded we'd find that Grassley did nothing but twittle his thumbs in negotiations and hum. He's a republican so his town halls will attract mostly republicans because he has shut down engaging with dems.

He doesn't want reform and never did and spends all his energy finding ways to prevent it. When 76% were demanding HC ins reform Mr.Grassley just ignored them and went looking for oppositon.

Just repeating "death panels, kill grand-ma, and gov take over of HC demonstrates what a lying political low life he is. He leads opposition for opposition sake and then calls that being "bipartisan". Can't take this guy seriously or even part of the discussion anymore.

Posted by: bjobotts on August 20, 2009 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Grassley said at a townhall meeting "I am a farmer" and the crowd cheered (of course). But, all I see him planting is manure. It's a crop which can only yield smelly hot air.

Grassley has recently been acting as sharp as a blunted nail who enjoys getting hammered by voices he already agrees with.

He should also recall that his people are only a small part of the entire country. If he intends to be any kind of leader within the Senate then he should try to reflect the nation's interests to some extent.

Posted by: MarkH on August 20, 2009 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what Grassley is doing, besides fending off a primary challenge, but it's sure not his job.

Senators are supposed to ignore the rabble; that's why they have 6-year terms. It's the House that's supposed to blow with the wind.

Second of all, Iowans have historically been pretty community-minded. They did, after all, raise public education to an art form.

I can't imagine his recent behavior will go over well in a general election.

Posted by: hamletta on August 21, 2009 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

There is only one way to show Grassley how wrong he is. Use your vote!

Posted by: Mike Holt on August 22, 2009 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

I deliberate on the dispatch is good and on the point. This brief in point of fact helped me in my assignment.

Posted by: WP Themes on December 24, 2009 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

I think the collection is suitable and on the point. This send in point of fact helped me in my assignment.

Posted by: WP Themes on December 25, 2009 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Luxuriously I believe that this despatch is something which insufficiency more limelight of your readers.

Posted by: Vigrx on December 26, 2009 at 4:07 AM | PERMALINK

Again a honesty a possessions post. Because of your crony

Posted by: WP on December 31, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK



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