SIGNIFYING NOTHING

Posted in Rants on February 7th, 2018 by Ed

This week the website for a group calling itself "United States of Care" came seemingly from nowhere to the front and center of social media, at least for people in the "You're not a Trump fan" algorithm. Very Serious People are lining up to applaud its Very Serious Approach to "getting the politics out of healthcare" (what?) and solving this problem once and for all.

A couple things here.

First, the website is absolute word salad. If anyone can figure out what this group stands for you are either a genius or drawing unwarranted conclusions from this mess of boardroomese, buzzwords, Third Way talking points, and frenetic website layout. This may be a record for the most words ever used to say absolutely nothing.

Second, the fact that it didn't exist a week ago and now it's literally everywhere on the internet is a big red flag. There is some very substantial money behind this thing to afford that kind of saturation exposure that ensures that every single journalist, freelancer, blogger, and social media "I like politics" person sees it in 48 hours. That's a marketing budget in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Believe me: I've been pitched these "Get everyone important to see your site!" services and I have at least a general idea of what it costs.

Third, the first two points make perfect sense if you do ten seconds of research into who's behind this thing. If that isn't raising some red flags, you might want to do some googling. Bill Frist, former Republican Senate Majority leader and multimillionaire owner of a chain of hospitals across the South, might not be as interested in "taking the politics out of health care" as the pretty banner makes it seem. Jim Douglas is a fixture on the McCain-esque "Reasonable Republican" circuit. Steve Beshear is one of those conservative Democrats you get when you need to say you have A Democrat but Zell Miller is busy. Dave Durenberger is another retired Republican from the Senate.

If this doesn't turn out to be an Astroturf group for the insurance industry I'll eat my hat. It's brilliantly marketed, the exact kind of thing that looks and sounds GREAT as long as you don't think about it or do any research into what the group is. It's so vague that any viewer can project anything onto the group's mission and goals, and the whole "Let's be Serious, we're Very Serious People, let's meet in the middle" shtick plays extremely well with aging centrist types and people with very low information about politics.

It's hard to draw firm conclusions from anything this intentionally ambiguous, but I'm confident putting my money on the idea that Bill Frist is not genuinely concerned about the little guy's access to health care.