Friday, August 15, 2008

John Cornyn: To Whine or Not To Whine, That’s The Obfuscation

Texas’ Junior Senator John Cornyn has been getting quite a pass from the press these past few days. I’ve been watching it but it is best summarized over here. My main beef with this is that it is an example of pure lopsided treatment in this senatorial race.

Texas Democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega has trouble getting 2 inches of print in a regional rag, and Cornyn has press from one end of the state to the other fawning on him.

And it’s not like he is strapped for cash getting his name out. The guy’s got over $9 million.

So why in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks does this guy’s campaign start whining when The Houston Chronicle puts out a single Op/Ed piece on Cornyn’s statement that praised the healthcare system of Texas and wanting to make it the national standard?

It’s all in a memo that his campaign put out to Cornyn’s supporters, asking them to complain to the Chronicle about their criticism. This is an overt attempt to pressure the media to toe the line and stay on his side of the issues. I’ll not produce the entire diatribe, just the meat [emphasis is mine]:

“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Cornyn spoke to a Pachyderm Club meeting in Houston that was covered by the Houston Chronicle. The subsequent article focused on health care and led off with the sub-headline "Senator says state is a model for nation, despite having so many without insurance." Needless to say, the headline did not accurately reflect Senator Cornyn's views.”

In his remarks, Senator Cornyn did not talk about health insurance at all. Instead, while relating several reasons why Texas's economy is in better shape than most other U.S. states, he mentioned the 2003 law reforming medical malpractice law in Texas. Since its passage, doctors and medical school graduates have been flocking to Texas, providing health care services in underserved areas and improving patient access in others. The development has made Texas the envy of the medical community nationwide, and several states are attempting to duplicate our accomplishment.”

After his remarks, Senator Cornyn was approached by the Chronicle reporter, who raised the entirely separate subject of health insurance for the first time. Senator Cornyn did not disagree that there were too many uninsured in Texas, and added there were numerous steps that need to be taken to reduce that unacceptably high number. In fact, Senator Cornyn has pushed for a variety of solutions, including funding for community health clinics, enabling small businesses to pool their resources to offer group health insurance, increased outreach efforts to boost SCHIP enrollment, and more.”

The campaign takes issue with the fact that the article didn’t cover Cornyn’s prepared remarks to the "Elephantitis Club," but did report on Cornyn’s remarks to the Chronicle reporter after the speech. Actually, in this article, reporter Alan Bernstein did both.

I totally agree with the Chronicle that Cornyn’s prepared remarks were not newsworthy, but what he said afterward was. You can read something and sound brilliant, but what comes off the top of your head is more revealing.

So what Cornyn said afterward is completely fair game for comment.

What he said was this:

“So, you have to understand what I mean when I say I want to make Washington, D.C., and the rest of our country more like Texas (because), frankly, we know the policies that actually work.”

And this is where Senator Cornyn stuffed his foot down his throat.

And The Chronicle - and Rick Noriega – jumped all over him about it.

And rightly so.

Rightly so because making the way Texas treats its citizens with regard to healthcare the national norm is exactly equivalent to what Bush did to national education when he took the Texas model for education, No Child Left Behind, and made it the law of the land – a thoroughly discredited unfunded federal mandate that has been foisted on the 50 states.

John Cornyn wants to do to national healthcare what George Bush did to national education.

And when he is quoted on this, he complains that this was not what he said, it was off-topic and . . . it was unprofessional of the Chronicle to print this.

This is a complete obfuscation. John Cornyn says a lot, he has lots of staffers who put the words together for him, but he is liable for all the words he says. Moreso, he should be judged in particular for his off the cuff remarks, for they more accurately reveal how he thinks.

And whether he does.

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