Friday, June 8, 2018

Selling Walden: Mr Nice Guy.

Greg Walden is presenting a kind face.  He is all about community health.

Except back in DC, where it counts.

I got the pop-up ad at  Another one at Greg Walden was popping up everywhere with ads on the internet, with a smile and word of support for Community Health Centers.

If Greg Walden is politically vulnerable it will be because the Democratic candidate, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, can make the case that Greg Walden is not what he seems to be. It will be hard to do. Walden is skilled and deceptive.

There are two Greg Waldens, the DC Walden and the District Walden. Back in DC, as Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he helps lead a party whose policies are pushing to reduce Medicaid eligibility, to reduce insurability for pre-existing conditions. But in the District he talks about delivering healthcare, not withholding it. 

Greg Walden can pull this off, in part because of language and tone. He doesn't sound harsh and angry. Walden does not sound like Fox News. He doesn't say mean things. His tone is empathetic.

Walden's message is characterized by what he does not do, not joining into the GOP voter appetite for criticism of the unworthy out-group, including "illegal aliens", "welfare cheats", "bloated entitlements," and the like. The premise of that talk is that there are good people (i.e. hard-working taxpaying Americans, normal regular people}  and there are bad people (the undocumented, the lazy, outsiders, people of color, soft-headed liberals) who are parasites and leaches dragging down the good people. Greg Walden goes the opposite way, toward language of inclusion, not division.

Click: Walden's Facebook
His policy message is about the healthcare service he supports. He appears to want what liberals want: health care for nearly everyone. His Facebook page has constant reassurances of healthcare programs he supports.  Childhood cancer. Community Health Centers. Opioid Crisis. Athlete safety. Generic drugs.

He sounds like a liberal.

His webpage and newsletters, and now his paid advertising, are all about Community Health Centers and his desire to expand health care access. Prior to passage of the ACA rural hospitals were in a financial crisis caused by having to provide unreimbursed care to the uninsured working poor. The ACA fixed that. Most of those poor and uninsured Americans were able to sign up for the Oregon Health Plan under the ACA's expanded Medicaid eligibility. Now Oregon's hospitals get partial reimbursement for the care they are required to give. The ACA is a life-saver for rural hospitals.

In DC Greg Walden worked to repeal the ACA. 

In his dual roles as head of the campaign committee to elect a Republicans majority dedicated to ending the ACA, and then as the Member of Congress chairing the Committee to do that repeal, Walden worked against the interests of his own rural hospitals. 

Won't that get him into political trouble? Likely not. 

He does not advertise that he wants to endanger rural hospitals. He sells the opposite proposition.  And most important, Walden doesn't look or sound like someone who would take away health care and endanger rural hospitals.  He looks and sounds so nice, so warm, so kind, so empathetic. 

He doesn't look stingy or mean, not at all.

In fact, I suspect Walden is sincere in wanting to improve rural health care, even as his actions do the opposite. It is very possible he feels bad about what he is doing. His problem is that his ambition and skill as a legislator and politician has put him into a situation where he helps lead a team--the GOP caucus in the House--that does the opposite of what he likes to sell. He chose to be an insider rather than a resister. He goes along with Trump and his Party. It is 

He has been captured by his teammates. It is a different Greg Walden from the one people voted for in the past.


  1. Walden is exploiting the complexity of our health care system--to try to convince Oregon District 2 voters he cares about their healthcare. In reality, Walden is only providing cheap bandaids on system he in collusion with the Trump administration are sabotaging. Medical providers in District 2 need to speak out now and spread the truth about Walden's record. This is the issue Walden is vulernable on and those who oppose him need to get out early and define Walden's role in sabotaging our rural hospitals and clinics before Walden white washes his record. Will Walden have the courage to actually attend a town hall in Bend or Medford to discuss health care? Jamie McLeod-Skinner should challenge him to and hold her own town hall since it's predictable Walden won't have the courage to debate this issue in public.

  2. There certainly are some artful mental gymnastics going on to reconcile his genuine concern with his dogmatic impulses.

    But there is a consistent ideology underlying his passionate drive to cripple healthcare - he wants to cut the federal government and shift the costs to the states.

    He very rarely articulates this since he seems to have internalized a fundamentally deceitful way of talking about the issues. But, every now and then, he says it out loud.



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