Going door-to-door for Obamacare Dec 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 13 • By MATT LABASH
Standing here on the streets of Hollywood with two comely Obamacare cheerleaders by my side, I’m feeling fired up and ready to go. I’m feeling like the change I’ve been waiting for. I’m feeling like whatever Obama cliché you can think of. And all I want to say, like the late Todd Beamer before me, is, “Let’s roll.” Or more like, “Let’s enroll.” Because much as Beamer, God rest his soul, took on the terrorists who tried to take down America, we are now in a similar cataclysmic fight: the fight to guarantee that every American has the right to buy overpriced health insurance on a glitchy website, under threat of punitive tax penalties.
I’ve come to Florida to go door-to-door with the foot soldiers of Get Covered America, the boots-on-the-ground division of Enroll America, which bills itself as a “nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act.” These Obamacare evangelists are very serious about the “nonpartisan” nature of their business. Nearly every Enroll America staffer I speak to emphasizes it, often repeatedly. And while it might strain credulity that an organization is nonpartisan which seeks to make sure people are Obamacared for by setting $100 million fundraising goals for itself, and conducting $5 million ad campaigns, and targeting 10 different states, 9 of which are coincidentally run by Republican governors, I choose to take them at their word.
After all, Enroll America boasts all manner of nonpartisan credentials. Most of its staffers seem to have worked in the nonpartisan Obama presidential campaigns of 2008 or 2012, often both. Its president, Anne Filipic, served as deputy executive director of the nonpartisan Democratic National Committee, and came here straight from the nonpartisan White House Office of Public Engagement. The nonpartisan Obamacare czar, Kathleen Sebelius (whom Filipic also worked for), has admitted putting the arm on companies to make donations to Enroll America, sparking several nonpartisan congressional investigations.
And after decidedly partisan conservative gadfly James O’Keefe and his undercover Project Veritas crew caught Texas Enroll America communications director Chris Tarango on tape conspiring to help obtain a private list of potential Obamacare enrollee data for political purposes, a national Enroll America spokesman told me again: “Enroll America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization,” it doesn’t technically enroll people “so we don’t have any sensitive personal data,” and though the video “does not show any violation of our nonprofit status,” even the suggestion of any violation is “inappropriate” and the “employee seen in the video has resigned from his role with Enroll America.”
With my nonpartisan concerns allayed, we’re ready to roll! At the Hollywood public library, I meet up with Get Covered America’s Katie Vicsik and Rhianna Hurt, 2 of 28 Florida staffers (they also have nearly 1,800 volunteers on the ground in the state). They are twentysomething, earnest, clipboard-carrying, and as adorable as speckled pups. They’re the Platonic ideal of Obama campaign staffers (which they both were) from back in the salad days, when the winds of hope’n’change blew across the prairie, and there was still dew on the world.
To be sure, these Obamacare evangelists are not insurance saleswomen. They’re not closers. They don’t actually sign people up for policies in the Obamacare marketplace, but rather, direct them how to do so. They sing the attractively anodyne highlights of the program—“financial help is available,” no discrimination for preexisting conditions. They give phone numbers and information to help people meet in person with a Navigator (a contractor paid to guide enrollees through the process) and circumvent the plagued website. They are goodwill ambassadors. They are, in a sense, storytellers. And it’s a hard gig to be an Obamacare storyteller these days, because for the last two months, there have been so many stories told. Not good stories, either. In fact, if Obamacare threatens to bankrupt any industry, it’s the liberal-media-bias-watchdog industry. Since now, news outlets across the spectrum are falling over each other to tell Obamacare stories, mostly about how lousy Obamacare is.
Matt Labash appraises a Blockbuster ending.Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By MATT LABASH
Though four decades shy of being an octogenarian myself, I’m starting to know how they feel. For at the hurtling speed of change these days, even a casual observer of the scene is unwittingly turned into a perpetual obituarist, forever marking the loss of old friends. So it was again last week, when news broke that Blockbuster was shuttering all of its bricks-and-mortar video stores.
Tom Day and the volunteer buglers who play ‘Taps’ at veterans’ funerals across America Sep 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 02 • By MATT LABASH
Tom Day is not a man given to extravagance. He thinks he’s living high on a reporter’s nickel if he orders a beef sandwich to go at the local Buona sub shop. He shops at Goodwill every Sunday, hoping to pick up bargains, like his handsome $35 suits. But if there’s one superfluity that Day especially can’t abide, it is that of empty rhetoric.
Matt Labash, king of the crownJul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By MATT LABASH
Like most civilized people of goodwill and sound reason, I’ve always held that violence isn’t the answer. It is, however, an answer. Which is why if I ever see Larry Randolph again, I intend to knock his teeth out.
The decline of Western civilization, 140 characters at a timeMay 6, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 32 • By MATT LABASH
“The Machine,” they exclaimed, “feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being. . . . [T]he Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine.” —E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)
At the risk of being abrasive, I am about to say something unthinkable, heretical. I am about to say six words you have likely never heard from a working member of the media, and may never hear again: Do not follow me on Twitter.
5:02 PM, Mar 1, 2010 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
It was nice that Canada was able to scratch out an overtime (or do they call it "stoppage time"?) win in hockey yesterday. Word is that they care an awful lot about hockey up there, and since the Vancouver Olympics had all those problems, it's nice for the home team to end on a high note.
Caring for orphans, ransoming hostages, burying the dead—it’s all in a day’s work for Father Rick Frechette.12:00 AM, Feb 24, 2010 • By MATT LABASH
For my recent week in Haiti, I was armed by our art director with a camera, and commanded to take usable pictures. I am not a professional photographer, but he assures me these qualify. (In this week's print edition of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, you can see more photographs from shooters who actually know what they're doing.) Here's hoping the additional snaps more clearly illuminate a wild and devastated place. (Warning: Some photos are extremely graphic.) And by all means, read the accompanying story, since I am, arguably, a professional writer.
From the ScrapbookFeb 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 22 • By
4:15 PM, Feb 9, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Sure it's a little-known holiday, but it is as intensely celebrated in Matt Labash's office as National Quilting Day or Wear Too Much Axe Body Spray Day. And, by Matt Labash's office, I mean the inexorably Phoenix-scented, desk-shaped pile of scrap printer paper and Gary Hart memorabilia under which he burrows to write for The Weekly Standard, not the whole Weekly Standard office.