With members of Congress, the mainstream media and the health "care" industry debating on television, radio, in newspapers and on the Internet, it's easy to lose sight of those who could be most affected by a possible reform bill -- the middle class.
Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), one of the so-called Blue Dogs, came under attack in a recent TV ad in his home state. The ad, featuring a small business owner named Michael Snider, made a strong case for a public option. Snider mentioned in the commercial that he had to cancel the private insurance he had for himself and his family because his premiums went up 42 percent. He also mentioned the more than $2 million Nelson had received from the health insurance industry and asked ... just whose side is Nelson on?
The ad was all well and good, promtping the apparently thin-skinned Nelson to claim such attack ads would result in killing reform. The organization running the ad responded by tripling it air time.
Nelson then called Snider, who owns a restaurant called The Syzzlyn' Skillet. Details of the conversation were scarce ... until Snider appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday night.
Video of that interview, complete with the commercial itself, is below:
The most important part of this segment isn't necessarily the ad itself -- it's the fact that someone in the mainstream media actually took the time to sit down with an average American citizen and ask them what they thought about health care reform and the public option. With all the right-wing bluster about how health care reform would hurt small business owners, Snider's appearance on Maddow's show on Wednesday did a great job of showing how false those claims are.
Also of importance was the fact that Maddow led off the segment showing video of a pro-health care reform rally. With all the video in recent days of "grassroots" right-wing opponents overtaking Congressional town halls by sheer volume, the mainstream media was making it easy to think there wasn't anyone out there on the side of reform.
I only wish she'd focused more on the pro-reform rallies.
Still, having Snider on her show, giving him a national platform to express his concerns as a constituent of Nelson's, has the chance to give the pro-reform side some momentum. If the rest of the mainstream media can get over itself long enough to actually report on how reform might affect people, we might see more of Snider and others like him.
Then again, considering most cable news channels feature countless ads from insurance companies and Big Pharma -- not to mention CNN refuses to air a pro-reform ad because it singles out an insurance executive -- that's not likely. Which makes the efforts of those like Maddow and Keith Olbermann (watch his Special Comment from Monday night's show, further down on this page) even more impressive.
If health care reform -- true health care reform -- is going to pass, we're going to need more stories like Snider's to counter the needless bluster of the "outraged elderly constituents" ... who are actually minions of the insurance companies and lobbies who oppose reform because it would hurt their bottom line.
Kudos to Snider for speaking up, and even bigger kudos to Maddow for talking to him.