Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beta test of "party of no" health care policy

From Steve Benen's column on the Washington Monthly website:

Over the last few days, a conservative activist in St. Louis named Kenneth Gladney seems to have become something of a cause celebre in far-right circles. Depending on which version of events you choose to believe, Gladney either initiated or was involved in a scuffle at a town-hall event late last week [with SEIU members]... Gladney later went to the hospital, claiming to have sustained injuries to his "knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face."

Yesterday, about 200 conservative activists held a protest outside the SEIU office in St. Louis. Gladney was there -- bandaged and in a wheelchair -- as a featured guest. Some of the activists held signs that read, "Don't Tread on Kenny." ... Gladney did not address Saturday's crowd of about 200 people. His attorney, David Brown, however, read a prepared statement Gladney wrote. ...Supporters cheered. Brown finished by telling the crowd that Gladney is accepting donations toward his medical expenses. Gladney told reporters he was recently laid off and has no health insurance. [emphasis added]

...The new right-wing cause celebre needs to take up a collection to pay for his medical bills because he doesn't have health insurance. It's a fascinating sign of the times.

* Update: The Washington Independent spoke to Gladney's attorney, who said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article is mistaken. Gladney did lose his job, the attorney said, but now has health insurance through his wife. It's unclear, at this point, a) why Gladney initially told reporters he has no insurance; and b) why he would need to solicit contributions from far-right activists to pay his medical bills if he already has coverage.

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