Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Sen. Al Franken discusses medical bankruptcy numbers with a health care reform opponent Diana Furchtgott-Roth from the Hudson Institute.

The setting, which is important to understanding why this went so badly from Furchtgott-Roth's point of view, was a Senate Judiciary sub-committee hearing on bankruptcies driven by catastrophic medical expenses--not the HELP or Finance Committee where the reform bill was drawn up.

Franken's squirm-inducing pauses, and his more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone, makes this almost as uncomfortable to watch as it must have been for Furchtgott-Roth herself, even though the target of Franken's quiet anger arguably gets off easy, given what she's complicit in.

By the second question she could clearly see what was being done to her. By the third question she began experimenting with passive-aggressive subject-changing as an escape mechanism--to no avail.

But it's important to notice that Franken appeared to have finished his questioning when Furchtgott-Roth fired her question back at him. It was a tactical blunder for which she paid an additional price. She could have kept quiet, taken her lumps, and been out of there--but instead she chose to lob in a hoary anti-reform talking point, hoping for a Pyrrhic victory and expecting the junior Senator from Minnesota not to have done his homework.

I suppose that, if you work for a conservative think tank, occasionally getting skewered in Senate testimony for advancing cherry-picked data and false analogies in the defense of unpopular and unworkable policy positions is just part of a day's work. The consolations are that you're well paid for your suffering, and it's on C-SPAN so most of America will never see it happen.

And, of course, that the Hudson Institute probably has a great health care plan.

(H/t to Blue Texan at


fbear said...

It looks like Al's going to be a fine Senator.

Anonymous said...

Furchtgott-Roth had seemingly not done her homework on Senator Franken. Read any of his books and it is clear even through the jokes that he is a policy wonk. Listen to his interviews and one hears how well informed he is.