Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More on Clarifying Sen. Begich's Ambiguous "I am"

Over the past weekend, Alaska's sole Democrat in Congress made an ambiguous statement regarding the public option. Some felt he had "raised his hand" for it. Others didn't feel he had.

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-)
Baucus, Max
Bayh, Evan
Begich, Mark YES
Byrd, Robert
Carper, Thomas NO
Conrad, Kent NO
Feinstein, Dianne
Landrieu, Mary NO
Lincoln, Blanche NO
Nelson, Bill NO
Nelson, E. Ben NO
Pryor, Mark
Tester, John
Warner, Mark
Wyden, Ron

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

Julie Hasquet
Press Secretary
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

Mailing Address:
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"


Blue_in_AK said...

I sent an e-mail, Phil, and reminded Mark that he's a Democrat and was elected as such. I have no use for "Blue Dogs," and if he's going to act like one, he won't get my vote next time around.

Sammy said...

Everyone needs to remind Mark Begich just how he got sent to Washington and who supported him.

Tell him that if the people of AK has wanted another obstructionist republican, you would have voter for one. And let him know that your support dollars are not guaranteed just because he is a Democrat.

I don't live in AK but I donated money to as many Democrats across the country as I could, including Begich. I took me until April of this year to pay off the money I put on three credit cards to support Democrats. This won't happen again if these people forget their roots.

Enough is enough.

Philip Munger said...

Wow, Sammy! Until April. That's awesome. We were afraid to look, but last year was TIGHT, and we donated out of state too - for the first time ever. I'm off to call people to call Mark's offices tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

and when you call Senator Begich, make sure you also tell him to support our veterans by voting no on the Medical Device Safety Act. It's a bad bill and will pull medical devices off the shelf in Alaska

Lazarhat said...

Actually I am shocked. Even in the age of email, nothing says 'serious issue' when a load of big bags full of actual written letters hits your desk. There's a certain tactile reality to it, isn't there? Some heft. Some weight. Especially if it's a lot of them. Email is too easy to ignore and too easy to just respond to with standard boilerplate responses. Whose 'SEND' button was actually clicked upon by a staffer or aide rather than the senator himself. As I'm sure has happened to me. Once. No response from the second email yet.

So phase two commences:

Sharpen your quill, get out your nicest parchment and let us all practice our penmanship as we hone and refine our personal participatory citizenship skills by writing a REAL letter to our Senator. Or both Senators. Just swap the names. Same office building.

Senator Mark Begich
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
phone. (202) 224-3004
fax. (202) 224-2354

Won't you please support a badly needed USPS system stimulus plan for Alaskans to 'give back' a little to Uncle Sam -- in the form of stamps purchased at your local post office? Then by mailing some actual letters affixed to their sticky parts you are giving a worthy American stamp a reason for being as well as sending along a real live holdable piece of your mind!

So ya, you betcha. ;) Write a real letter and send it to D.C., folks. Because that's were Mark will be in September.


Philip Munger said...


Excellent point - Write! with your hands.

Anonymous said...

you have an anonymous poster telling you all to tell Begich to vote NO on the Medical Device Act.

you even have this person attempting to appeal to the meme of 'supporting the troops'.

Hogwash.Think again please.

The Senate version of the medical devices act was sponsored by Ted Kennedy.

Don't even begin to think you should tell Begich to vote no.

The act is designed to overturn Bush Supreme Court protection of medical device makers and protecting them from suits brought against them for faulty devices.

Do not tell Begich to vote no on this legislation.

Unless you're a redstate wingnut idiot drone, you don't want to support the corporate medical industry, and continue to grant them exception from being held responsible for the safety of the devices they market.

Please, just because you see some comment here, don't think it's necessarily got any kind of advice that you should follow.

Some anonymous winger or worse yet, some industry flak has come here and tried to bamboozle you into telling Begich to vote no on a bill designed to protect individuals from industry neglect.

Tell Begich to vote yes on the Medical Device Safety Act.

Congress has a duty to overturn the Bush Supreme Court's decision to grant immunity to the medical device industry.

The Medical Device Safety Act will re-instate consumer protections, it's legislation that every progressive should support.

I can't emphasize enough how wrong it would be for any of us to tell Begich to vote no.

If you wanted to allow the medical device industry to go on marketing unsafe devices which kill and maim, you would tell Begich to vote no.

Tell Begich to vote yes on this issue.

Tell Begich he'd better vote yes on this issue as well as come out very soon and very publicly in support of this issue and to announce his unwavering support for a public option.

Don't get bamboozled by anonymous posts telling you what to do. This anonymous poster @ 4:30pm on 9/2 is playing you.


Anonymous said...

ps directed to phil

If there ever was justification for removing a post, removing the anonymous advice @ 4:30pm on 9/2 should qualify.

It's nothing more than wingnut spam trying to sell your readers a very destructive product.

You don't want to allow your readers to be played for fools, but that's what that post is attempting to do.

It's nothing more than right wing spam.

You should excise it immediately before any more damage can inadvertently be done.


Anonymous said...

and if anyone fell for the attempt to play you all for fools,

that post by anonymous@ 4:30pm on 9/2,

call or write Begich back and tell him you got played and that you don't want him to vote no.


apologies if this sidetracks or diverts from the discussion to urge Begich to support the public option but urging Begich to vote no on this bill would be an egregious mistake and needs clarification.