Several national blogs picked up on a Sunday post at Alaska's most widely read progressive blog, The Mudflats. The article was based on a 40-minute interview Sen. Begich had given Saturday evening on Alaska independent commentator Shannyn Moore's progressive talk show on Anchorage's KBYR. Moore used combinations of carrot & stick, praise & criticism, insight & raw humor, to try to get Begich to commit to the "public option" on health care reform. She was unrelenting on trying to get him to commit.
Many who listened to the program - it is well worth a listen - did not think Begich had pledged anything. Some did. Late Sunday The Mudflats printed:
On the Public Option
(after Senator Begich lost his phone connection and called back)
Begich: I’m here, can you hear me?
Moore: We’re on the radio, so you just wave!
Begich: I’m waving! I’m waving!
Moore: (laughs) I know you’re waving… I hope you’re raising your hand to support a public option. I just really am.
Begich: I am.
Commenters at the post mostly took this as a sign that Begich had finally responded to thousands of emails, phone calls and office visits he has endured over the past three weeks. Soon, Democratic Underground declared "Senator Mark Begich of Alaska Comes Out In Support Of A Public Option." Open Left headlined "Begich Comes Out In Support Of A Public Option?" At least they showed some caution.
DailyKos diarist KingofSpades came out with "Senator Begich comes out in support of Public Option! (with Action & Poll)." One of the commenters there noted that as a consequence of the ripple effect of the initial posting from Alaska:
This is the list I found at Dr. Dean (0+ / 0-)
Begich, Mark YES
Carper, Thomas NO
Conrad, Kent NO
Landrieu, Mary NO
Lincoln, Blanche NO
Nelson, Bill NO
Nelson, E. Ben NO
Anyone else off for sure?
I had listened to the initial Shannyn Moore show podcast and was not convinced Begich had made a commitment. I wrote Monday that Begich was ambiguous throughout the interview, and that his statement, "I am" was a continuation of a riff he had going with Moore on a different subject.
Tuesday I learned that calls and emails to Begich's Anchorage and DC offices had fallen off dramatically early this week, possibly in response to the meme that Begich had come out for the public option. Additionally, I found out yesterday afternoon that the Alaska Democratic Party was now making the claim in a mass emailing to party members, based solely on "I am."
So I got hold of his press secretary early this morning. Here's what she wrote:
Senator Begich is committed to health care reform and finding ways to provide accessible, affordable health care to the millions of Americans who don’t currently have it.
However, until Senator Begich sees how a public option is proposed to be paid for in the final bill that comes before the Senate, he is not committing to supporting a public option.
Attached is the text of his Aug. 10 speech to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce where you can see his thoughts and priorities on this issue.
Thank you. Julie
Sen. Mark Begich
Julie requested that I provide links to Sen. Begich's stated positions on health care reform in this diary. Here they are:
Sen. Mark Begich's August 10th speech to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce on Health Care Reform (and other issues)
Sen. Begich's July 27th Health Care Reform Forum in Anchorage
It is important to make up for the two lost days of diminished contacts with Sen. Begich on this.
Here is the contact information:
Peterson Tower, Suite 750
510 L St
Anchorage, AK, 99501
phone. (907) 271 - 5915
toll free. (877) 501 - 6275 - good only for area code 907 callers, but good everywhere in Alaska
fax. (907) 258 - 9305
101 12th Ave, Room 206
Fairbanks, AK 99701
phone. (907) 456-0261
fax. (907) 451-7290
One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 308
P.O. Box 21850
Juneau, AK 99802
phone. (907) 586 - 7700
fax. (907) 586 - 7702
To email Sen. Begich, go to his Senate web page, and click on the icon that reads EMAIL THE SENATOR.
image - Mark Begich at the 2008 Alaska State Fair parade. He will be at the State Fair this weekend, where you can demand he really "raise his hand"