WaPo Jabs at Betrayal of Southern Dem for Rejecting 'Badly Needed' Health Reform

Friday’s Washington Post offers a highly timely article on its front page: grass-roots liberal anger at southern Democrats who voted against health "reform." But the Post hints at its own anger between the lines. The caption under its photo on page A-22 reads: "Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) voted against health-care reform even though it is badly needed in the largely rural district he represents."

The front-page headline was "Democrat's vote on health bill leaves backers feeling betrayed." It could have been titled "Kissing Off Kissell." Liberals now want him ousted.

Reporter Philip Rucker asserted Kissell upset incumbent Republican Robin Hayes by 11 points as he "ran on a promise to bring a progressive everyman's sensibility to Congress." The caption writer may have echoed Rucker's rhetoric on the "need" for nationalizing the health-care system in North Carolina:

Still, Kissell's vote is perplexing considering the need for health-care reform here in the largely rural 8th Congressional District.

The district, at the heart of the state's weakened textile industry, stretches from Charlotte to Kannapolis to Fayetteville and was shedding manufacturing jobs even before the recession. Now, about 20 percent of residents younger than 65 have no health insurance -- among the highest rates in the nation -- and the bill would provide coverage to about 85,000 who are uninsured, according to a congressional analysis of census data.

Kissell said he voted against the bill because "it would have cut about $399 million from Medicare to find savings." Actually, the House-passed bill would have cut much more than that – is that the Post’s estimate of Medicare cuts just in Kissell’s district? Kissell said he promised never to cut a dime from Medicare, and Rucker noted in the fourth-to-last paragraph that "the electorate in off-year elections tends to skew heavily toward seniors – the age group that most strongly opposes health-care reform."

Rucker never quotes a Republican in this piece, or anyone who doubts the urgent "need" for health reform and Medicare cuts, but it might seem unnecessary with all the article's insistence that Kissell should be toast for not voting with Speaker Pelosi.

The article ends with the emphasis of Democratic operative Gary Pearce underlining Kissell's cluelessness in trying to seek votes beyond the liberal base: "That's why they call them freshmen -- because they make freshman mistakes. That's why a lot of them don't become sophomores."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis